Croatian Author Sanja Srdic Jungic on New Novel, Ti Si Moje Sve

Total Croatia News

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In your first interview with Total Croatia News, you’ve mentioned the possibility of writing a fantasy novel in the future or at least a novel with a fantasy twist. So, were you true to your word?

Actually, I was! I think your news portal was the first official channel through which I mentioned the possibility of bringing some fantasy elements to my novel. I can’t talk much about it since it would be a huge spoiler, but yes, there is a bit of magical realism in my second novel and reactions are super positive, even though it’s completely different from my first novel.


Now that you’ve mentioned it, what are the main differences between your two novels?

My first novel, Zvijezde među nama, was a true chick lit novel and a perfect summer read, following the story of a young Croatian woman Nora who follows her passion of working in movie production and subsequently falls in love with a famous American actor. Ti si moje sve, my second novel, is a tad more serious, even though we are following a much younger protagonist this time, seventeen-year-old Elena. We meet Elena at the worst part of her life, right after a tragic accident in which her beloved father dies, and Elena is struggling with keeping up with school, family relations and friendships. The only positive thing in her life is Aleks, boy-next-door who sparks up her life a bit. This is a novel about coming of age and a mixture of romance and drama.

How much of you can be found in the main characters in your novels? How do you write a character to be more lifelike?

Both of my protagonists have some similarities with me, but I try to distance myself from my novels as much as possible. Nora inherited my sarcasm and stubbornness, while Elena is very empathetic and cares deeply for her family. And as for making my characters more lifelike, I use dialogues. They are really my strong suit, so the dialogues in my novels will often make you laugh, even in the most inappropriate situations my characters sometimes face.

How has your life changed with the publication of two books?

Well, definitely not as much that I can quit my day job, ha ha! I’ve become more aware of the audience of my novels, to whom I’m very grateful, and also the media following me and my social channels. I’ve once written a post about our president’s website and it soon caught the attention of Večernji list, who published a whole article on the topic, it was mental! But I can still walk my dog in my PJs without it being reported by the paparazzi, so that’s nice.


Is that what prompted you to seek international success?

Well, not exactly. The Croatian book market is really small; if you sell a thousand books this is considered a great success. And everything usually stops with those 1000 books, if you are lucky enough to sell them. I wanted something more.

You were publicly recognized by a bestselling British author, Robert Bryndza who is, in his own words, a fan of your work. The Croatian media picked up this story where you explained that Robert became a mentor of yours in the process. How did your collaboration start and what is the value of mentoring for the new writer?

Robert Bryndza is a wonderful man who I met in one of our bookstores (I work as a marketing manager for a Croatian bookstore chain) during his promotional tour and he is the first person who instigated me to start working on the translation of my novel with renowned Croatian translator Neven Divjakinja and who not only became my mentor, but a friend during the process. To me, having a mentor who understands all of my fears and frustrations is invaluable. Not only can Robert recognize when I’m slacking off and give me much needed kick in the butt, but he is a true example of what a writer can accomplish when he sets his mind to it. For Robert, it’s millions of sold copies and translations in more than 30 languages. One can only dream of such success, so not only I have an excellent role-model, I can also discuss my every move with him. Being one of a few Croatian authors published outside of Croatia can be lonesome, so I’m really lucky to have Robert there with me every step of the way.

Is there any difference between Zvijezde među nama and The Stars Among Us and how the process of publication differed?

There are some differences between the Croatian and English edition, not so much plot-wise, but they had to be done. I was working with a wonderful editor, Stephanie Dagg, who is also the editor of Robert’s chick lit novels, so we changed some of the characters names and situations they were in so it could be more relatable to international audience. I won’t even start with the difference in the process – I will only say that it’s much more professional than any of my experience in Croatia, and it was more tiresome than publishing both of my books in my home country. But all the hard work paid out when I saw my novel on Amazon.


And for our audience who might not know what The Stars Among Us are about what would you tell them?

I would ask them if they ever had a crush on a celebrity and what would they do if they had a chance to meet said celebrity. That’s basically what happens with Nora, who quits a perfectly good job to become an extra in a Hollywood movie being filmed in Dubrovnik. She hopes it will help her move on from a painful break-up and give her breathing space to find out what she wants to do with her life. To Nora’s delight she discovers that she loves every minute in her new “temporary” career. It doesn’t hurt either that the handsome assistant director, Ivor, takes more than a passing interest in her. But then events take a dramatic and unforeseen turn when Lucas Winter, a world-famous actor and Nora’s teenage heart-throb, unexpectedly arrives on set…

Finally, your novel was somewhat inspired by some real-life experience…?

I had the privilege of being an extra in not one, but two seasons of Game of Thrones and it was one of the most exciting experiences in my life! I really wanted to pass down my impressions through my novel, but the whole romantic plot between an ordinary girl and not-so-ordinary American actor is obviously pure work of fiction… or is it?

You can find Sanja’s novel on Amazon in both paperback version and Kindle. We look forward to reading it and wish Sanja the very best of luck!


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