Made in Croatia

Meet First-Time Croatian Chick Lit Author Sanja Srdić Jungić

By 19 February 2019

February 19, 2019 - Getting published as a first-time author these days is tough. Doing so in Croatia with a genre that barely exists among Croatian writers is tougher still. Meet a young lady who succeeded - Sanja Srdić Jungić.

The last time I met Sanja Srdić Jungić was a couple of months ago. As marketing manager for popular and innovative book store, Hoću Knjigu, Sanja had kindly agreed to help me look for a publisher for my next book, Around the World in 80 Disasters.

We haven't met since, but it turns out she has been hiding a little secret of her own and has quietly not only written her first novel but also managed to find a publisher and get it published. I meanwhile... A terrific achievement for a first-time author these days in Croatia, especially in a genre where few Croatian authors venture - chick-lit novels, which is a genre I confess I am yet to explore myself. 

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Inspired by her experience as a Game of Thrones extra in Dubrovnik, the plot of Sanja's first novel, which has been VERY well received by Croatian literary critics before its official release:

Nora has always been approaching her life from the safe side, up until a painful breakup, after which she decides to leave everything behind to find happiness in Dubrovnik. By becoming an extra for a Hollywood movie filmed in Dubrovnik, she is hoping to find a more suitable job in the world of production while enjoying the incredible opportunity. And all that in the pleasant company of cute assistant Ivor who is showing an unusual interest in her. Her ambitious plans are potentially in danger when Lucas Winter, world’s famous actor and Nora’s teenage celebrity crush, suddenly becomes a part of the filming crew...

1. Before we ask you about the book, tell us who Sanja Srdić Jungić is.

I’m a 30-year-old dreamer (hence the name; it’s like my mom knew my personality prior to my birth) from Zagreb, currently working as a marketing manager of a bookstore chain Hoću Knjigu. Books are my passion, so I’m very fortunate to be working for a bookstore chain that is doing things a bit differently, with lots of cool and fun events. I have been writing for most of my life and I started my career as a journalist, but this is the first time I have written a novel.

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2. Your first novel “Zvijezde među nama” (roughly translated as The Stars Amongst Us) will soon be available in bookstores. Describe briefly what readers can expect.

Hopefully, a romantic story with a few butterflies, some laughter, a tinge of sadness and a whole bunch of fun :).

3. You chose to write a chick-lit novel which is very unusual for a Croatian author. Where did you get the idea? Do you like reading chick-lit yourself?

I’m reading all kind of books of different genres, chick-lit included. I didn’t really think about it beforehand; I just started writing, and by the time I started to believe that I’m onto something and that I might be published I started to ask around about the situation with chick-lit authors in Croatia. It’s true, there are none. As far as I know, the last chick-lit books published by a Croatian author were those of Lana Biondić and that was almost 15 years ago. Jagna Pogačnik wrote in 2005 that chick-lit doesn’t really exist in Croatia, not even in the form of Lana Biondić’s books so I hope my novel will change that. 

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4. They say that the best books come from the author's real-life experience. How true is this for your novel?

My friends and family will definitely recognize me in some parts of Nora’s (main character) story, but I like to think that Nora is a smarter and more cheerful version of me. She also tends to make tough decisions without analyzing them to bits, which I very often do. But there is one experience that affected the first part of the book, and that is my experience of being an extra in Game of Thrones which was filmed in Dubrovnik, as well as working briefly for few production houses. Being part of Game of Thrones is still one of my favourite lifetime experience and I wanted to share the joy and enthusiasm with my readers. 

5. Some of the first reading reactions before the release were pretty positive. How do you feel about it?

Happy and terrified at the same time :). Hopefully, my future readers won’t have too high expectations after reading those reviews, but since the reviews came from highly experienced readers/book bloggers, I tend to think their reviews were honest and that the novel has a high potential of being well-liked among the audience. 

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6. Because "Zvijezde među nama" is part of a romance genre, specifically chick-lit, we assume you have some role-models. Which authors inspired your writing?

I do like reading romance and chick-lit novels as much as everything else, but I wouldn’t say I have specific role-models. I like the style of Colleen Hoover, Emily Giffin, Renee Carlino, Jill Santopolo, Alice Peterson, Sally Thorne and Sophie Kinsella. 

7. We know that it is very difficult to find a publisher for a debut author in Croatia. How did you manage to publish your book?

Croatian authors are very much underrated and publishers usually don’t consider publishing the works of first time authors because they are rarely profitable. I would say that the profitability of books depends on not just the quality, but also the PR behind it, which is usually non-existent with young authors in Croatia, but that’s a whole other story. Therefore, I knew that publishing my novel would be a difficult task. I contacted a few carefully selected publishers under a pseudonym since I work directly with most of them, presented the story with a synopsis, my ideas for PR and how could I contribute in it and all I got was no reply or a generic reply, which was sad but unfortunately expected. 

A few weeks later I heard about Neven Kepeski (MB books) and his success with young and very popular YouTube star Nika Ilčić and her recently published book. I correctly assumed he was thinking outside the box when it came to publishing, so I presented him my story (this time in person) and he sent the manuscript to his editor Ivanka Vranković, who is a romance novel editor for Gloria magazine. 

Her first impression (and I hope that hasn’t changed) was that the story was fantastic; she gave her green light to Neven and Neven decided that after publishing Nika’s story, as well as the book written by renowned psychiatrist Dr. Robert Torre with the genius title (Ima li života prije smrti/Is There is Life Before Death), my chick-lit novel is the way to go. 

8. It may be too early to ask, but we’ll take the opportunity anyway. Are you writing or are you ready to start writing yet another book?

I actually do have a second book on my mind. I wrote just one and a half page so far since my job involves many book promotions outside of working hours and I also can’t concentrate on working on two books at the same time, but I’m hoping to finish it by the end of the year. I told the story in brief to my best friend and to my editor and they are convinced it’s a wonderful story, we just have to see if I can pull it off. 

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9. We know you're a great fan of Harry Potter's series. Is there a possibility that you will surprise us with some future fantasy story?

Even though Harry Potter is my favourite book and I’m a fan of Song of Ice and Fire and Lord of the Rings, I’m not much of a fantasy fan, so I would say not likely. But I can say that my second book will feature a brief fantasy moment, so I hope the Harry Potter fandom could appreciate it as well :).

You can follow the Sanja Srdić Jungić literary story on the Facebook page of the mysterious Miss S

"Zvijezde među nama" is scheduled for release next month. 

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