Step Behind a Curtain!

Are you ready for a sneak peek into our upcoming urban fantasy novel A Town Called River, by Igor Rendić? The novel’s first chapter, Step Behind a Curtain, is available now for free download from our page. You can read it in epub, mobi and pdf.

And if you like what you’ve read, consider pre-ordering an ebook. It’s available through various stores, so check out this link to see if your favorite place has it. You can also follow us here or on our social media to get info about the paperback release and other news, and add the book on Goodreads and The StoryGraph.

If you missed our chat with the author, we have an interview with him on writing, publishing, translating and life in general.

Returning to his hometown of Rijeka, Croatia, to wrap things up after his grandmother’s passing, Paul gets more than he expected in terms of inheritance—way more than just a stuffy old apartment downtown.

The legacy of his grandmother’s work as a krsnik—a traditional magic user tasked with keeping the thin line between the humans and the things that prey on them—falls on his shoulders, threatening to change everything he thought he knew about life, the city he left behind so long ago, and himself.

As the line keeps getting thinner, it’ll soon be up to Paul, with help from some unexpected (and witchy) places, to prove worthy of his legacy while fighting for the city’s humanity, and trying not to lose his own along the way.

A Town Called River is out on 11/11/2021. The book’s publication is supported by a grant from the City of Rijeka.

Release Day: Girls Back Home

The portal to world 753 just opened today, so hop on to the newest adventure of our murder-solving lesbian doppelgangers! Girls Back Home, the third installment of our queer retrofuturistic mystery series Ranger Paraversum by Vesna Kurilić, is out now and ready for your eyes.

Lina and Karol were just enjoying their precious time together in Lina’s world, when an invitation to a family get together throws them into chaos known as Karol’s posh family. Karol, for some reason, doesn’t want to have anything to do with them, but when presented with an offer she can’t refuse, the girls decide to use the opportunity to solve a cold case from Karol’s childhood. But the Prodan house is full of secrets that are just ready to burst out in the worst way possible.

Isolated country estates, opulence, secrets, family drama, forbidden relationships, flying cars, questionable taste in art and so much more wait for you in this sapphic mystery set in an alternative history where the World Wars never happened.

Perfect for fans of Agatha Christie who always wished for something a bit more gay. Available here. Read more information on Ranger Paraversum here.

Author Feature: Igor Rendić

This November we’re publishing the urban fantasy novel A Town Called River by the award winning author and translator Igor Rendić. We sat down with Igor and asked him a few questions about himself and his writing so you can get the chance to learn more about him before his book gets out. And he delivered his answers beautifully, almost like a story.

Tell us something about yourself. Who is Igor Rendić?

Ah, introducing oneself to strangers, a great task for someone who doesn’t consider themselves particularly interesting. 

I’m a writer and literary translator from Croatia. I’ve always enjoyed fiction in most of its many and varied forms (long ago I would have said first films and then books and then the rest, but for a long while now it’s been books first and second), and now that I’ve been getting published for over a decade and a half, I can’t really imagine a world where I never became a writer.

Although, if things had gone a bit differently at several points in my life, the part after ‘writer’ could have been “tour guide” or “criminal psychologist”.

I had at one point been a very keen pub quizzer (gave it up because I stopped having fun although I’ll still play quizzes at cons) and a conrunner (gave it up because 14 annual cons in a row is a nice number to retire after).

I enjoy hiking and I enjoy pizza, and those two things have so far been in a kind of equilibrium.

How long have you been publishing your work?

Since 2005, when I visited the local gaming&comics shop and on a pin board next to the cash register I saw a printed out call for submissions for an anthology to be published by Istrakon, one of Croatia’s sci-fi conventions. I told myself, “Why not” and wrote two stories and sent them both (you could send up to three back then). They published both and that was it.

What’s your favorite book you’ve translated?

Oooh, that’s a tough one, but after thinking hard about it I think it’s Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Children of Time which is to me top notch science-fiction—big ideas, great worldbuilding, compelling (non)human characters and fluent yet not simplistic prose. It was a pleasure to both read and translate and I’m glad to have done my part in bringing it to Croatian readers.

Have you published anything before in English, or was it all in Croatian?

Yes, in fact the first time I ever submitted a story in English, I managed to get it published! Back in 2014 I saw a submission call for a steampunk anthology. Once again I said to myself “Why not” and got to writing. The theme was not just steampunk but also “other worlds”, i.e. specifically not set on Earth. So I wrote a story titled “Ayelen”, about  steampunk-technology level humans colonizing other worlds through portal-type cracks in reality. The plot was set on a world that is mostly archipelagos and vast oceans, and my characters were the crew of a small military vessel patrolling the seas against pirates and such—but since I love mashing up subgenres, I combined steampunk not just with a high seas adventure but also supernatural horror.

I’ve also published several stories in Croatian fanzines that have done issues in English, but those were all translations of stories originally written and published in Croatian.

Where can we read your stories? Give us the links! 

Here you go, all the links in one handy place. Most of it is online or free to download. 

What sort of stories do you like to write? Are there some particular (sub)genres you prefer more than others, some topics you like to revisit and so on?

I don’t usually think about this, so your question actually got me thinking and browsing my folders…

As far as the three genres making up speculative fiction goes, I don’t think I have a strong preference between fantasy or science fiction, but I do lean a bit more towards those two than towards supernatural horror.

But that’s a boring, statistics answer.

I’m definitely into heroes and people doing heroic stuff, but I’ve also over the years developed a taste for worlds and plots where their victories are bittersweet at best. My worldbuilding has been increasingly involving settings where the current world is built on the ruins of one or several older ones. I like the blurriness of the line between SF and fantasy, and the equally blurry line between science and magic it creates. I’ve challenged myself to write darker stuff, but even when I make a grimdark downer, there’s still a glimmer of light in the distance. My early works were strong on plot and worldbuilding and ideas, but weak on characters—through hard work I’ve managed to eliminate that weakness, and I know this because several of my stories that resonated most with readers in the past years were character pieces first and foremost, either dealing with interpersonal relations or people facing personal challenges while simultaneously tackling external problems.

You already have a few awards for your work. Other than that, what’s your favorite story you’ve written and what are you most proud of?

It’s a story that, when I finally finish the translation, will be titled “Snow, as if dusted with glass”. The original, in Croatian, won an award and it’s the story most people have told me they like, but the reason I’m most proud of it is, well, it’s a story that lives and dies on character and emotion, two things which had for a long time been my weaknesses as a writer and that I’d been working on for years—paying attention to good and bad character and emotion work in other people’s writing and learning how to recognize the flaws and problems in my own writing. It’s also the story I consider a significant roadmark in my development as a writer, as I can honestly say that only a year previous I would not have been able to write a version of it that was 20% as good as the one that actually came into being.

What can we expect from your first solo novel A Town Called River?

You can expect a man coming back to Croatia after more than two decades living abroad and discovering he’d inherited not only his recently deceased Grandmother’s apartment but also her magical powers—as well as her enemies and problems. There’s also witches and other magical creatures, dreams and nightmares, great local food and a lot of the main character’s flailing about in the very deep end of the pool he’s been dropped in against his own will. It’s definitely dark in places but emotional in others and there’s also (I hope) moments of humor and interesting character interaction. There’s talking and discovering secrets, and there’s fighting and thinking your way out of troubles. And, if I’ve done my job right, you should by the end be interested in visiting Rijeka.

What are your plans for the future?

The sequel, definitely, because my editor and publisher expect it. Seriously though, a sequel (two, in fact) to A Town Called River was always on the table, since the very early days of plotting and worldbuilding for ATCR.

There’s a list that has, over the past 20 years, been regularly updated, expanded and contracted – novels, novellas and stories I would like to write. Some of those will definitely be written in the near future; in fact just the other day, to get ATCR out of my head for a bit, I wrote the introductory chapter to a fantasy novel that’s been on my mind for a few years now.

Other items on that list will probably never move past the “title and a few sentences of an outline” stage, which is, I’ve been told by older, more experienced and accomplished writers, the way it always has been and always will be.

Where can we find you online?

I have a website, which can be found here.

And I have an Instagram, which is mostly the books I’m currently reading, photos from my hikes and walks, and food.

What would you like to say in the end to our readers and other writers?

If you like writing, write. If you want to be a writer, write. Carve out the time exclusively for it, be it minutes or hours. Build discipline; give yourself a mandatory daily minimum of words or time spent writing. Don’t wait for someone to give you permission to write, to be creative. They certainly wouldn’t wait for yours. Also, don’t wait for “the right time to start”. Time definitely doesn’t give a toot about you and your writing.

And, if you’ve been identifying with those “writing is a chore and misery” and “I don’t like writing, I like having written” posts and quotes and find yourself liking and sharing them and scrolling through them instead of writing, please, ignore them and block such pages, and not just because they’re taking you away from actually working on something creative. Writing is work, definitely, it’s discipline and it’s very often bashing your head against obstacles, but it’s also supposed to be FUN, from outline to draft to final edits.

We literally get to create worlds and people and creatures and magic and technology and adventures of any kind you could possibly imagine. If you’re not going to have fun doing that, why do it at all?

A Town Called River is out this November. Learn more about it here. Add it on Goodreads and The Storygraph.

Cover Reveal: A Town Called River

On this beautiful sunny day in Rijeka, we’re sharing with the world the first look on the cover of our urban fantasy novel A Town Called River by the award winning author Igor Rendić. This is Igor’s first solo novel, prior to which he helped write the historical urban fantasy saga Flumen Obscura with six other authors, and published numerous short stories, some of which amassed multiple regional and local awards for best speculative fiction works.

This beautiful illustration and cover design was made by Korina Hunjak, who also worked on covers for the Ranger Paraversum series by Vesna Kurilić. Since the story is set in the town of Rijeka, Croatia, literally ‘a town called River,’ the cover is playing with the layout of the town with letters following the river passing through to the sea. Its clear callout to the urban fantasy series Rivers of London also gives you a hint of the atmosphere and style you can expect in it.

Follow the journey of Paul, who returns to Rijeka under the sad circumstances of his grandmother’s passing. Soon, he learns she kept a whole secret life from him, one he now inherited. The legacy of his grandmother’s work as a krsnik—a traditional magic user tasked with keeping the thin line between the humans and the things that prey on them—falls on his shoulders, threatening to change everything he thought he knew about life, the city he left behind so long ago, and himself.

As the line keeps getting thinner, it’ll soon be up to Paul, with help from some unexpected (and witchy) places, to prove worthy of his legacy while fighting for the city’s humanity, and trying not to lose his own along the way.

A Town Called River is out this November. It’s perfect for fans of Rivers of London and The Dresden Files. You can add it on Goodreads, and we’ll soon have more details and a preorder links.

Cover Reveal for Girls Back Home

Girls Back Home, the third installment of the Ranger Paraversum series by Vesna Kurilić, now has a cover and we’re happy to share it with you! Feast your eyes on this fantastic illustration, evoking the art deco style of the book itself, featuring the main characters and the omnipresent smoke—this time joined with a major feature of the book: the dreadful northern wind bora.

Cover art by: Korina Hunjak

The cover illustration artist is the amazingly talented Korina Hunjak, who also worked on the first two books. We spoke with her before about her work in a short interview you can read here.

What can you expect from the book? The adventures of our world hopping, mystery solving, dopplegänger lesbians, Lina and Karol, continue with the scariest situation of all—meeting your lover’s family. Especially if you have to keep the existence of the whole multiverse and multiple version of yourself a secret. It doesn’t help when dead bodies start to drop, too…

To learn more about our queer retrofuturistic romantic suspense series check out the first two books: Johnny’s Girls and Girls in Black, or you can read the standalone novella Freddie and Ivan go Ice Skating Together.

Girls Back Home is out 25th October, 2021, and you can pre-order it on all major stores.

Exciting News

Today we have a bit of an announcement of another kind: during the next few weeks, there’s going to be a lot of interesting stuff happening on our social media. A group of first year Master’s students, from our local Academy of Applied Arts in Rijeka, have worked hard on illustrating the stories from our Mistress of Geese collection during the past few months. Through their college course “Ilustracija i strip B” (Illustration and Comics, B), under the mentorship of red. prof. art. Marina Banić Zrinšćak and her assistant Korina Hunjak, they’ve created beautiful illustrations and vignettes for the stories, and we’re pretty pumped to be able to share them with you.

We were so thrilled and honoured that the professors chose one of our books for the young artists’ practice, and we surely were more than excited to see the results! Join us on this trip around the five novelettes from the collection, all set in different parts of Croatia, in the following few weeks by checking out @shtrigabooks on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Students from the Academy of Applied Arts in Rijeka whose work we’re going to feature at this time are:

  • Ana-Maria Jurić
  • Antonio Filipović
  • Klara Punjek
  • Lana Drožđek
  • Lejla Tomić
  • Mariana Ban
  • Paola Glavaš
  • Petra Hršak
  • Sara Sabol

Be sure to check their other art out, too—there’s plenty of goodness where the featured illustrations come from!

Mistress of Geese—Now in Paperback

Mistress of Geese, the queer folk horror collection written by Antonija Mežnarić, is now available in paperback, too! As you can see, our cover photo artist Mojca Brenko-Puzak, a folk horror aficionado and an amazing photographer, took the opportunity to do a bit of a ‘coverception’ with her copy of the book.

Photo by: Mojca Brenko-Puzak

The book collects 5 novellettes about isolation, loneliness, terrible folklore, and insatiable nature. Inspired by Croatian folk heritage, these stories delve into fears and anxieties of queer characters while they’re fighting to survive monsters, supernatural and human alike, and getting lost in the forests, canyons, mountains or at sea.

Are you ready to follow the geese in the night? Or are you afraid of their Mistress?

The paperback edition is available through Amazon and Book Depository.

2021 ESFS Awards

Some great news here at Centipede HQ!

Each year at Eurocon, the European Science Fiction Society gives out ESFS Awards in different categories, in order to promote European speculative fiction worldwide. This year, we got the news that our small publishing cottage Shtriga recieved the 2021 ESFS Award for the Best Publisher! We’re joint winners with the Bulgarian publishing house Colibri and Russian Azbooka / Азбука, so big congratulations to them too!

We’re small and new, but we have a lot of passion for publishing and hope to grow with time. There are a lot of stories in Croatia that await to be shared with the rest of the world.

Big thanks to the ESFS for the award and the Croatian nomination! This is truly an honour.

In case you still haven’t had the chance, you can check out our current and upcoming releases, meet our authors or read a free, short, sapphic horror story by Antonija Mežnarić here.

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.