Artist Feature: Korina Hunjak

Ever since Shtriga launched late in 2020, we’ve been privileged to collaborate with several pretty talented and even more hardworking artists on our covers. We’re starting the Artist Feature season with Korina Hunjak; illustrator, graphic novel artists, art teacher and cover artist extraordinaire. Korina has done the cover illustrations for both Johnny’s Girls and Girls in Black, and is in the talks to work on A Town Called River!

Who is Korina Hunjak? Tell us something about yourself.

Hello! I’m an artist focused on comics and illustration (and sometimes design). I hail from a small townlet in the hinterlands of Crikvenica but am currently residing in Rijeka, Croatia.

Tell us something about your art. What are some of your relevant works?

I mostly work in digital mediums, sometimes using a combination of traditional media and digital painting. I love experimenting with different approaches to drawing and I love writing my own stories for picture books and comics as well. 

The recent work I’m most proud of is a picture book I wrote and illustrated called In the company of Light (U društvu svjetla), published by Sipar in 2020, which tells the story of a small photon of light traveling from its birthing place in the center of the Sun all the way out to the limits of our Solar system and over the edge of the heliosphere. The story is told through dreamy illustrations depicting conversations of the photon with humanlike planets and celestial phenomena. My aim was to create a modern sort of mythology using real facts as the basis for the story, to pique the interest of kids of all ages for astronomy and to get them thinking about the bigger picture of our planet, us, and the vast universe surrounding us.

The other project which I’m really proud of is my first longer comic Animosities (Zvjerinjak), which I managed to draw and self-publish over the course of several months in 2019. It marked the beginning of my more serious involvement with drawing comics and set me on a path I’m really glad to be on today, creating personal comics and being actively involved in the Croatian (and European) comics author community. The story itself deals with the themes of otherness, acceptance and rage, questioning how far we should go seeking justice for the wrongdoings dealt to us by fate and circumstance.

Korina Hunjak's Animosities comic book cover.

You did covers for Johnny’s Girls and Girls in Black (and sketches for a few more). Can you tell us something about the illustrations and your creative vision for the covers? How did you choose these particular motifs, how did you choose what to portray and what not?

I always prefer to read the material I’m illustrating beforehand so I can get to know the content in depth and previsualize certain images before even starting to sketch. It was possible to read Johnny’s Girls at the time, so while I was reading it, I took notes of interesting visual details peppered throughout the book, such as the changing appearance of the characters, details from their environment, the general atmosphere and so on, and made a list of things that would be interesting to depict in the illustration. Following Vesna’s guidelines for the time period and general historic feel of the picture, I decided to depict the two main characters in clothing from a defining event of the book, and around them stylized buildings which reference various posters from the Art Deco era. I also added a decorative border containing a subtle hint to an important story element. The drawings were rendered in a style reminiscent of lithography to further visually connect them to the era in question.

Does it often happen that you find details in the books which the authors weren’t even aware of themselves? 🙂

It does happen sometimes! I guess I have a knack for noticing certain things, or maybe I’ve just gotten used to looking for the imagery in everything over the years, whether written or otherwise. 🙂

What is important for you when you make illustrations or covers for books?

It’s important to hear from the authors about the intended feel of the content, what kind of emotion it should convey or what kind of visual style is best suited to its needs. I prefer when I can illustrate scenes with emotional impact, but it is equally nice simply to create visually appealing images without worrying too much about the message or emotion of it.

What are some of your future projects?

I would love to dedicate more time to creating longer graphic novels and writing and illustrating more of my own picture book stories. Maybe the biggest project I’ve got waiting on the back burner is a science fiction omnibus comic following the inhabitants of a future colony on Mars and the fate of a hyper-technological Earth. The other project waiting on me to sit down and start sharpening pencils is a fantasypunk graphic novel of the road dealing with the themes of moving on and the meaning of life. I hope I’ll one day have enough willpower and discipline to see them both through. :,)

Where can we find your art or follow your work?

You can find and follow my art on Instagram (@korina.hunjak) and Facebook (, as well as my own website (, where you can read almost all of my comics in full. Thank you!

Pride Month Reads

Tomorrow is the first day of Pride month so we would like to celebrate our books with queer rep (which is… most of them!). If you’re still searching for something to read, you can check out our recent releases in queer horror, fantasy and romance.

Queer horror

There are a few titles of queer horror we have to offer, from a free story to a whole collection.

Of Monsters and Dogs, by Antonija Meznaric

Of Monsters and Dogs is a free short story you can read here, on our site. This sapphic horror story has an opposite of the meet cute—it’s more of a meet with… a lot of blood.

During a completely ordinary night walk with a dog in their park, Danijela suddenly hears a shriek. Rushing to help, she meets a young woman who was attacked by a vicious doghead – a violent creature from local folklore that shouldn’t have been anywhere near their hometown. But it hurt Nana’s dog, so now she’s ready to get some revenge on. And Danijela can’t very well leave her to deal with a dangerous supernatural beast on her own…

CW: animal death (offscreen) and gore.

The Gentleman, by Vesna Kurilic

The Gentleman is a short story in which our geeky narrator enjoys some time on a sci-fi convention. What was supposed to be a fun cosplay show soon turns into a bloody affair when he ends up at the wrong place at the wrong time… the toilets.

Short and fun, this gay steampunk horror romance story is available here.

CW: blood and gore.

What do Nightmares Dream of, by Antonija Meznaric

What do Nightmares Dream of is a sapphic horror comedy novella. Sanja is a tired teacher who finally bought an apartment—a place to call her own, away from her abusive grandmother. She only had to get indebted to the bank for the next thirty years, which turns out not so great when she learns she’s not alone there.

She’s ended up with a supernatural roommate—one hellbent on playing around with her nightmares. In a world that doesn’t believe in magic, it’s up to Sanja to find a way to deal with the creature, before it sucks her dry.

You can expect:

  • awkward lesbian flirting
  • an exasperate priest (he just wants to do some illegal exorcism, okay)
  • creepy imagery
  • hunger
  • Slavic folklore
  • loneliness, depression, anxiety and existential dread.

CW: mention of suicide, mention of child abuse.

This novella is available as an ebook and a paperback.

Mistress of Geese, by Antonija Meznaric

Mistress of Geese is a collection of queer folk horror tales about isolation, loneliness, destructive powers of nature, magic and creatures lurking in the dark.

This collection contains five novelletes, set in remote areas of Croatia, inspired mostly by Croatian/Slavic folklore.

You can expect everything from trans women, lonely sapphics to wlw/mlm solidarity, all of them trying to survive creepy cults with their “old ways”, disturbing events and monsters. You can check blurbs for individual stories here.

CW: everything you could expect from a folk horror; from animal death, gore and violence to body horror.

Get this collection before the geese get to you.

Queer Fantasy Romance

And now on some lighter topics, we also have a few titles for those interested in romance, fantasy and suspense!

Ranger Paraversum series by Vesna Kurilic: Johnny’s Girls, Girls in Black and Freddie and Ivan go Ice Skating Together

Ranger Paraversum is a queer romantic suspense fantasy series set in an alternate World War II aftermath, with some parallel universes, bountiful happy queers, world hopping and murder!

In Johnny’s Girls we meet Lina—an apprentice cartographer who works for a secret society that holds the keys to the multiverse. In her world, fighting has just ended in the City of Rijeka and WW II is finally coming to an end. But before she gets to celebrate, a visitor from another world, another Rijeka, comes looking for her in search of help. Because the visitor, Karol, needs to find out what happened to a missing colleague, but doesn’t trust anyone else with the task than, quite literally, herself—her otherworldly doppelgänger.

Lina follows Karol to a golden version of Rijeka set in a world where the World Wars never happened. Even though everything is shiny, there’s still a darkness lurking below. As the two women team up, they will soon discover there’s more to each other than the surface likeness which the eye can see—making this, unfortunately, a matter for the heart to resolve.

This steamy dieselpunk with vintage lesbians will try to answer a complex question: could you fall in love with someone who looks just like you?

CW: suicide.

Get the girls here.

Girls in Black

Set in the aftermath of Johnny’s Girls, we follow new adventures of Lina and Karol, this time in Lina’s world. In a newly freed Rijeka problems are starting to brew. New governments, new leaders and, on top of it all, a new murder; this time in a very old place filled with some old friends. Tensions, suspense and romance are all tangled in this fast paced LGBTQ+ alternative history murder mystery novel. You can get it here.

Freddie and Ivan go Ice Skating Together is a standalone gay romantic suspense novella, set in an alternative mid-twentieth century, right between Johnny’s Girls and Girls in Black, that can be read and enjoyed without knowledge of the main novels.

Freddie and Ivan went on a holiday retreat, hoping for some romantic fun and a bit of ice skating. They even packed Freddie’s drag armoire, Madame Frederique’s wardrobe, and left Ivan’s mysterious day job at home, trying to distance themselves from the gruesome affair of Freddie’s last party.

But they’re soon interrupted with a very cold murder in the middle of the snow-covered mountain, and end up roped into trying to find out who could’ve done something so awful.

You can find this holigay murder novella here.

If you check something out we’d like to hear from you. Leave us a comment on social media or Goodreads.

Recent Titles

We’re a bit late with this post, but better late than never. In case you missed our latest releases, we’d like to point out the great novels we published last month.

Girls in Black by Vesna Kurilic

Continuing where Johnny’s Girls left off, Girls in Black is the second novel in the Ranger Paraversum Series. This queer, retrofuturistic romantic suspense follows Lina and Karol in a mission in Lina’s world. What was supposed to be a romantic vacation soon turns sinister when Lina’s old orphanage asks her for help with a dead body. Aftermath of war, soldiers, possible witchcraft, confused nuns, and some steamy fun awaits you in the pages of this book.

Ranger Paraversum is a queer portal fantasy full of parallel universes, vintage lesbians, and a forbidden doppelganger romance. Perfect for fans of His Dark Materials who never get over the bench scene in the last book, and avid readers of Agatha Christie’s. 

If you still haven’t read the first part, Johnny’s Girls is available on most major stores.

Krasna zemlja by Ana Cerovac

Krasna zemlja, a continuation of the award-winning historical fantasy Krsnik, is now out and available in print and ebook. Krsto od Kastva is still trying to get to his missing wife, in the midst of the war between the Republic of Venice and the Uskoks over Istrian land. And while everyone begs for help with their problems and suffering, Krsto just tries to deal with his issues. But as a krsnik – a magical person who can heal wounds and fight for the good of the people – he has bigger responsibilities than just his marriage vows. Gritty and dark, this series portrays the horrors of war and how there are never good decisions to make when caught in its claws. Perfect for fans of Witcher. Available only in Croatian.

Novo u ponudi: Krasna zemlja Ane Cerovac

Nakon dugog čekanja stigao je i taj dan, kada je Krasna zemlja, nastavak romana Krsnik Ane Cerovac, službeno vani i spremna za čitanje.

Ovaj povijesno-fantastični roman o krsnicima, štrigama, povijesti i ratu dostupan je u dva formata. Za one koji više vole tisak roman se može nabaviti na za 139,99 kn. Za one koji preferiraju eknjige, Krasna zemlja se može nabaviti na Kobu ili Smashwordsu za $6.99 (što je otprilike 44 kn).

Koji god oblik odabrali, želimo vam sretno čitanje!

Ovim putem vas želimo pozvati i na prvo predstavljanje koje će se održati u petak, 23. 4. povodom Noći knjige 2021., u 18h. S obzirom na epidemiološku situaciju, predstavljanje će biti online, kao Facebook live event na Shtriginoj stranici (@shtrigabooks). Vidimo se u petak, iza ekrana, u sigurnosti naših domova. 🙂

Knjiga je pisana uz potporu Grada Rijeke i objavljena uz potporu Grada Pule, Grada Opatije i Istarske županije – Regione Istriana.

Writing alternative history

A world where the Carpatia sank while trying to help the Titanic. A world where there had been no World Wars. So many possible divergences, small and big. One girl taken into the fold of a convent orphanage, the other girl adopted by a rich family; both girls with the same face, almost the same name, but different futures.

This and more is hidden in the backbone of Ranger Paraversum, a portal fantasy series written by Croatian award winning author Vesna Kurilic. She will talk to us about writing alternative history—what it is, why she loves it, how to approach historical research, what to keep, what to lose, and how to still stay sane in the process. Join us at our first Facebook live event at our page @shtrigabooks to chat about history, romance and mystery on April 8th, 8 pm CET.

Vesna is a scorpio, a ukulele player and great lover of low maintenance house plants. Her first novel (in Croatian) about a werewolf pack on the borders of the Austro-Hungarian Empire earned her several national awards and made her rethink this whole writing business. Her recent release is the #holigay murder mystery novella Freddie and Ivan Go Ice Skating Together available here.

A firm defender of all things romance and queer, she moonlights as a librarian and reverently updates her ‘Read’ shelf on Goodreads. She blogs about writing, reading and cosplaying at, shares her cat’s curious sleeping poses at @vesnakurilic and hopes against all odds that no one will try to reach her through her Facebook page.

February Romance Reads

If you’re looking for a steamy, geeky queer romance books, we’ve got you covered. Here are our romance titles by Vesna Kurilić, perfect for this month of love.

Johnny’s Girls, Ranger Paraversum, Book One

Johnny’s Girls is a novel about lesbian dopplegangers traveling the multiverse and solving murder mysteries. In this alternative history adventure, Lina and Karol are a part of a clandestine organization keeping the secrets to crossing over into parallel universes. When Karol needs to find out what happened to a former colleague who’s gone missing, she asks for help from the only person she can trust—her other-world self. Set in a historical setting, contrasting the aftermath of World War II to a world where the world wars didn’t happen, this dieselpunk romance with a dash of locked room mystery is perfect for those in search of some vintage lesbians. Book two is coming in early April, so you still have time to catch up with Johnny’s Girls.

Freddie and Ivan Go Ice Skating Together, a standalone Ranger Paraversum novella

It was supposed to be a romantic retreat in the middle of nowhere, with a posh party at an idyllic mountain hut. A chance to get back into society, showing off Freddie’s glorious dresses and meticulous make up, while Ivan pursued his own secret agenda that may or may not have anything to do with ice skating. However, Freddie and Ivan’s romantic plans were soon to be interrupted with a truly ice cold murder.

This novella can be read without any knowledge of Johnny’s Girls. A perfect winter read with snow, ice, drag getups and a murder most gay.

The Gentleman

The Gentleman is a short story with a geek at a convention who sees something he shouldn’t have. A bit of a steampunk tale, a bit of a terrified-but-horny trope, this hot short story sheds light at the fact that it’s sometimes better not to know what cosplayers do in the bathrooms.

Johnny’s Girls, Freddie and Ivan Go Ice Skating Together and The Gentleman are available on all major stores. For more information check out our books.

The Mistress is Here!

Our first collection of short reads, the folk horror compilation Mistress of Geese by Antonija Mežnarić, is here! It’s available through Amazon, Kobo, Apple and elsewere.

From the blurb:

The undiscovered, occasionally almost uninhabited remote areas of the old European land of Croatia hold secrets only the bravest of women can find. The only question is, will they survive the discovery or be taken into darkness as the land demands?

Mistress of Geese is a collection of folk horror tales about isolation, loneliness, destructive powers of nature, magic and creatures lurking in the dark.

The five novelettes Antonija wrote, directly inspired by old Croatian folk tales (and even one family legend) offer a fresh, queer, folk-heavy take on slavic horror. 

Jela lives in complete, self-imposed isolation, but when a malevolent curse falls down on the neighbouring town of Lepoglava, she needs to—quite simply—follow the geese.

Bura lives in a remote village, hidden in the Velebit mountain range in the late 1950s, when she gets lost in the woods, which have suddenly gone unrecognizable.

Four friends visiting the Istrakon sci-fi convention in Pazin get into magical trouble when they drink something they shouldn’t have touched.

Luka and Kate believed they had a perfect plan to trick strict village rules. Years later, Ema and Laura go on a perfect vacation in Dalmatia… except that the powers lurking in the depths of the sea have other plans for them, and so does the village itself.

Augusta is caught in a fairy tale in the worst possible way—as a maiden sacrifice to the river dragon for the safety of her postapocalyptic village. But Lian, as it turns out, isn’t really a dragon and Augusta has something else to bargain with, other than her life—something much, much more dangerous.

If you’ve read Mistress already, don’t feel shy about letting us know what you thought on Goodreads!

ps. If you’re in love with the cover as much as we are, go give Pannonian Mermaid, the photographer, some love!

Wintery Goodness

Upcoming Shtriga Books winter releases

We are happy to announce our lineup for this winter season 20/21! Starting with December, our titles are ready for a chilly release schedule.

Freddie and Ivan go Ice Skating Together (Ranger Paraversum #1.5)

The first winter title is also a true #holigay treat, written by Vesna Kurilic. An Agatha Christie inspired mystery in historical drag, this novella has everything you need to tuck yourself in for a cool evening with cocoa and cookies—ice skating, murder, a fluffy and bantering established m/m couple, some suspense, a little holiday retreat on a glittery, snowcovered mountain range—except it’s all gone horribly wrong.

Even though this novella is part of Ranger Paraversum series, it’s a stand alone, and you can read it without any knowledge from our recently published lesbian dieselpunk romance Johnny’s Girls.

Mistress of Geese (collection of novelettes)

Set to publish on winter solstice, this title hides a number of eerie folk horror novelettes written by Antonija Meznaric. These stories about loneliness, isolation, terrible magic and insatiable nature span from more historical settings to contemporary times, ending in a dark, magical post-apocalyptic future. Completely queer, focusing on struggles of different women and (loosely) inspired by Croatian folklore, the collection Mistress of Geese gives a new spin on folk horror.

Krasna zemlja (Između orla i lava, knjiga druga)

We are honored to be able to announce our first title in Croatian and our newest author addition! Krasna zemlja, written by Ana Cerovac, is the second part of the award winning trilogy Između orla i lava. These novels are a deep political intrigue interspersed with bursts of folklore-inspired fantasy action set against the backdrop of an Istria torn between two actual historical beasts.

After the first book in the trilogy—Krsnik—swept up and took the Croatian public by surprise, Ana continues weaving the tale of her titular hero Krsto od Kastva, the adventures and obstacles he faces while trying to reunite with wife Marija, and the human stories of the Istrian people thrust in the war which ravaged the region in 1616.

Publishing date TBA, for now available in Croatian only.

For more information on covers, release dates, buy links, holiday giveaways and more follow our social media or subscribe to our newsletter—Centipede News.

What Do Nightmares Dream Of—going live!

It’s time to wake up because our sapphic horror novella about dreams, repressed trauma and loneliness is now live!

What to expect from this title? Our protagonist Sanja has a lot on her plate. Not only is she in debt to the bank, stuck in an unfulfilling job with a non-existent love life, but there’s also a supernatural pest haunting her dreams. She has to fight her nightmares, decipher whether the new cute substitute teacher is flirting with her or not, and figure out what to do with her life.

With just a touch of a gloomy atmosphere, dark humor, lesbian yearning and a lot of rain, this novella plays with a twist on the old Slavic folklore.

Content warning: mentions of child abuse (backstory) and mentions of suicide (side character, past).

Sanja’s nightmares are waiting for you to read them here.

Now Live: The Gentleman by Vesna Kurilic

Exciting news! Our first fall release for 2020, the queer urban fantasy short story The Gentleman is live and available from all major retailers. Find your preferred store here.

Vesna wrote the story as a sort of a love letter to the cosplay show at her favourite convention, Rijeka’s Rikon, and didn’t fail to include the obligatory ‘cosplayers always make a mess in the toilets’ scene. (Fair warning: she’s a cosplayer herself.)

See more here, or get the story!