Talking locations of Still Unwritten with Caroline Khoury
Locations of Still Unwritten with Caroline Khoury
I write escapist love stories and location has always been very important to me. You can expect to travel to many far flung, exotic destinations in my novels and Still Unwritten is no different, though the love story begins in a town in the UK that is very close to my heart.
1. New Malden
New Malden is a suburban town in south-west London. It’s the town I grew up in and returned to after living abroad for ten years. It’s also home to the largest population of Koreans in Europe and was the inspiration behind having a Korean romantic lead. The place where the ‘meet-cute’ happens between Fran and Jae-Seung (my protagonists) – is my favourite coffee shop in the town called 63 High Street.
I wrote most of the book here, fuelled by the best coffee. It was very important to me to set part of the novel in New Malden as I consider the book a love letter to the Korean community I grew up with. I also love K-drama and K-pop and thought it would be fun to write a story with a K-pop idol.
Fran and Jae-Seung’s love story takes them on an exciting journey that begins in Seoul. The South Korean capital is a city I haven’t been to, but it was important to me that the story was partly set there. 63 High Street is run by the loveliest Korean family, and they shared many stories with me of their trips there which enabled me to imagine the scenes for the book. The hotel that Fran stays in ( The Intercontinental above) and the stadium where she discovers Jae-seung is in fact a global pop idol are real places.
Fran is half Sicilian and I loved writing the scenes set in her home country. I have never been to Sicily, but Italy is one of my favourite countries. A couple of years ago, I dated a lovely Sicilian guy and he graciously shared lots of tales of where he grew up, all his favourite places and the food he loves to eat. The island of Favignana which you can reach by boat from the mainland seemed like a stunning place to set some of the book and the Riserva Naturale Orientata dello Zingaro on the mainland sounded breath-taking.
I lived in America for three years, in a town in New Jersey called Montclair and was very fortunate that it was a forty-five-minute bus ride to New York City. The Big Apple is an incredible place and Fran and Jae-seung explore parts of the city that I know well. (Bryant Park see below)
5. North Carolina
I wanted Fran’s journey to find her mother to take her to this state. It’s thanks to my best friend that I have the scenes set in Wilmington as she has been on holiday there many times. I would love to go there one day as the beaches sound incredible.
The Body and Pole club in NYC!
The pole dance studios in Seoul and NYC both exist and all the locations I mention in New Malden are real too. I love writing travel romance and do generally try and include locations I have visited, but for Still Unwritten, I was more inspired by people I have had the good fortune to have in my life who could share their travels with me.
To immerse yourself in the locations of Still Unwritten, I highly recommend a trip to New Malden. The high street is lined with Korean cafés and restaurants. Even the King came to visit recently to meet the Korean community. I also think the island of Favignana sounds magical and would love to visit there one day.
What a lovely tour Caroline. Many thanks!
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