About The Book
Grace Wilde is running—from the multi-million dollar mansion her record producer father bought, the famous older brother who’s topped the country music charts five years in a row, and the mother who blames her for her brother’s breakdown. Grace escapes to the farthest place from home she can think of, a boarding school in Korea, hoping for a fresh start.
She wants nothing to do with music, but when her roommate Sophie’s twin brother Jason turns out to be the newest Korean pop music superstar, Grace is thrust back into the world of fame. She can’t stand Jason, whose celebrity status is only outmatched by his oversized ego, but they form a tenuous alliance for the sake of her friendship with Sophie. As the months go by and Grace adjusts to her new life in Korea, even she can’t deny the sparks flying between her and the KPOP idol.
Soon, Grace realizes that her feelings for Jason threaten her promise to herself that she’ll leave behind the music industry that destroyed her family. But can Grace ignore her attraction to Jason and her undeniable pull of the music she was born to write? Sweet, fun, and romantic, this young adult novel explores what it means to experience first love and discover who you really are in the process.
Why South Korea?
I’ve always loved books with non-American settings. I love travel in general—experiencing new things, tasting new foods, and seeing the world with fresh eyes. I love how books can transport you to places you’ve never been or bring back memories of those you have. I can pick up Stephanie Perkins’s Anna & the French Kiss and go back to my own visit to Paris or Kirsten Hubbard’s Wanderlove and dream about going to Guatemala.
When I started writing Hello, I Love You, the question wasn’t “Why South Korea?” It was “Why not South Korea?”
I was writing a book about Korean pop music. I had been inspired by Korean dramas. It made sense to set it in Korea.
Travel is different for different people. We all see the world in unique ways, because we’re unique people. And I think books—and book settings—are the same. I knew from the beginning that I didn’t want to write about a Korean living in Korea. I wanted to write what I knew: a foreigner stepping into a new culture and being completely overwhelmed and ultimately learning to appreciate something unfamiliar.
I’ve lived in three different countries, including one in Asia. It was one of the most difficult—and also exciting—times of my life, going through extreme culture shock, having my worldview completely blown open, and realizing that I can be incredibly judgmental.
And in my book, I wanted to explore that terrifying, exhilarating ex-pat lifestyle.
When I wrote Hello, I Love You, I had never visited South Korea. Research was tough. I’ve never looked at so many Google maps or read so many blogs about street food. But I was actually lucky enough to get to make a trip to Seoul right when I received an offer of representation from my agent. (Like, literally, the same week.) It was so fun to visit the places I’d written about and take part in a culture I had only experienced through research and my Korean friends.
The Korea in my book isn’t an “insider’s view” of the country and culture. It’s a view from the outside looking in, from the perspective of a girl who literally hates the world and everyone in it—a girl who has to be broken before she can see the wonderful thing that’s right in front of her face. And it’s my tribute to every ex-pat out there who has ever gotten frustrated by language barriers, cried from homesickness, and eventually learned to love their new home and culture.
Places Visited in Hello, I Love You
Bupyeong Underground Shopping Mall, Incheon
N Seoul Tower, Seoul
Myeongdong shopping district, Seoul
Gwangjang Market, Seoul
Insadong neighborhood, Seoul
Cheonggyecheon Canal, Seoul
My Favorite Contemporary YA Novels with Non-American Settings
Wanderlove, by Kirsten Hubbard
Hostage Three, by Nick Lake
When You Were Here, by Daisy Whitney
Just One Day, by Gayle Forman
Lock & Mori, by Heather Petty
Wish You Were Italian, by Kristin Rae
About The Author
Katie M. Stout is from Atlanta, Georgia, and works for an international charity that sends her to fun places like Spain and Singapore. When she’s not writing, you can find her drinking an unhealthy amount of chai tea and listening to Girls’ Generation, Teen Top, and all her other favorite K-pop tunes.