If there’s a fifth main character in The Dubrovnik Book Club, it’s Knjizara Svih Nacija, the bookshop itself. It was named by my Croatian collaborator, Darko, and translates literally as The Bookshop Where All Are Welcome. Isn’t that lovely? It certainly fits right in with the story.

But where is this bookshop, and does it exist? If you’re in Dubrovnik and you want to find it, simply head up Ulica od Puca in the old town, past the orthodox church on your right, and it’s in the middle of the next block. Except sadly it isn’t, but you will see any number of the traditional shop fronts it could be hiding behind.

There’s a very special sort of shop front you find in Dubrovnik, and more or less in Dubrovnik alone (I have found something similar in Sicily – but that’s another story). They date from medieval times and have a single arch with a decorative corbel on the top. But the arch is asymmetrical; one side has the bottom half bricked up to form a window (or the old serving counter) and the other half is the door. The space behind is very small – so much so I had to make The Welcoming Bookshop double fronted to make sure all the book club members could fit in.

For many years there has been an international bookshop in Dubrovnik, selling books in different languages for tourists and locals alike. If you’re short of something to read while visiting, it’s near the Onofrio Fountain. These days the two Algebra bookshops in the main street, Stradun, sell foreign language titles too, so you won’t be short of choice.

The medieval interior of The Welcoming Bookshop is important to the story, as it draws Karmela in. Although largely hidden by bookshelves, what she sees and wonders over on her first visit is an amalgam of architectural features I spotted while wandering from shop to shop in the old town one wet Saturday afternoon. So although the bookshop itself isn’t real, the constituent parts of it are. It could exist. I want it to exist. And that’s the magic of writing.