I’m a funny sort of writer. I like to draft out a book, and then research the locations in depth. But I suppose, given I’m currently working on my fourth book set in Croatia and my second in Dubrovnik, I do know the ground pretty well.
It all started in 2019 when I heard a Dubrovnik-based tour guide’s story about growing up during the Homeland War, and I just knew I had to put it into a book. The Olive Grove (set on Korcula) was born, and as readers rather liked it, I have carried on – with the tour guide Darko Barisic’s help – writing books set in Dalmatia.
When I arrived in Dubrovnik at the very end of March I had some definite research objectives in mind and the first was to find a shop. Not one particular shop, but an amalgam of the best traditional shops that would not be out of place on Ulica od Puca, one with a few original features peeping through.
In search of ceilings
It was this last part that proved the most difficult, with so many of the interiors completely boarded out to suit modern retail designs. But taking to the side streets rather than Stradun I found wooden ceiling beams, both plain and carved stone corbels, a vaulted roof and even the corner of a fireplace. The more I looked, the more I found and of course the shop workers I spoke to were incredibly helpful, if a little bemused, when I wanted to take pictures of their ceilings.
Knowing how important coffee is to Croatian culture I was itching to set a scene in Gradska Kavana. Being early season there we plenty of tables outside on a grey Friday morning, but the coffee was delicious and the terrace really is an exceptional place to people watch from. It’s really important for a writer to get a proper feeling for the place; the aromas and sounds add so much more to a book than a Googled picture ever can.
One really lovely thing was when I went back on Saturday for a special coffee to celebrate publication day for my first Dubrovnik novel, The Collaborator’s Daughter, the waitress recognised me and gave me a ten percent discount. I know I’m far from local, but I certainly felt like one at that moment.
The old harbour at night
Much of my time that morning had been spent tramping the streets high on the seaward side of the old town so I could get a feel for where one of my characters lives. Perhaps it sounds strange, but seeing the parts where there are fewer rental properties and more homes gave me such a sense of the place; washing hanging on lines, glimpses of courtyard gardens with resplendent orange trees, groups of young boys playing football. More than anything I want to take my readers to the real Croatia, not to a tourist resort for a holiday romance. But it’s always a challenge when they also want their virtual trip to be to somewhere they’ve heard of.
The last scene of the book I’m currently working on is set in the old harbour at night and it was fabulous to wander around, listening to the water wash against the boats, watching people come and go from the restaurants, and tourists trying to take pictures of Dubrovnik’s famous cats. It was a perfect place to end my all too brief visit to the city, but I am sure I will be back. When people are so welcoming, how can I stay away?
About the Author
Eva Glyn is an author, published by an imprint of Harper Collins, who writes books set in Croatia. She is in Dubrovnik this Spring to research her summer 2024 book, which is set in the old city, and to celebrate the launch of this summer's book, which is also set in and around Dubrovnik.
The Collaborator’s Daughter is set in Dubrovnik in 1944 and 2010, and is published by Harper Collins. Find out more on Eva Glyn’s website, www.evaglynauthor.com.
And for a little more information about Eva Glyn follow this link - https://harpercollins.co.uk/blogs/authors/eva-glyn