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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
“Mr. Woo is resting in his room,” Isabella said, conveying the news about Yun Woo to Coin, who was staying in a hotel in Denver, Colorado. He had finished his room service meal by that point. Coin was solely responsible for Juho and Nam Kyung being forced to walk about the streets of New York. As he relaxed with his feet on the table, Isabella said, “Was that really necessary? You hardly ever touch the place.”
The apartment he had provided Yun Woo with was in one of the buildings that he would visit once or twice a year at most, and he was leaving the management of the building to a hired hand.
“That’s gotta be the dumbest question I’ve ever heard.”
“My houses, cars, properties. I paid for them with the money I made out of my books. If I don’t show them off to Yun Woo, then who else can I do that to?”
Holding back her laughter at his shameless remark, Isabella said, “One would think that you bought those houses just so you can show them off.”
“That’s right. I wanted to show that pretentious journalist up.”
“That’s gotta be the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.”
Then, without giving an answer, Coin redirected his attention to the view out the window, from where he could see countless cars and homes.
“I make a living by writing.”
“That, I know. What else would you have left without it?”
“My social skills and sense of cooperation.”
“That’s a terrible joke,” she said, looking at the author. However, he was serious.
“I mean it. There’s no way to get around them, no matter how well-off I might be. Those are skills necessary for survival, don’t you think? This damn ecosystem of ours,” he said, looking down at the streets and the pedestrians walking on them. Looking at his back, it sounded, to her ears, like he was picking a fight with the rest of the world.
“I know my place in the literary world, and it all started when I threw a punch at the face of this world’s hierarchy.”
“You punched a person, I believe.”
At that, Coin’s shoulders moved up and down as he laughed. His face wasn’t visible from where the editor was.
“Good point. You see, it’s strange how I made enemies with the rest of the literary world and some societies when I punched that person.”
Although his personality had definitely been one of the major contributing factors to his reputation in the industry, there also existed an even bigger contributing factor, and Isabella was also well aware of that. If it had been the nose of another rookie author that Coin had broken with his fist, things wouldn’t have blown out of proportion like they had. In fact, nobody would’ve remembered it ever happening. Coin had authority, and breaking some rookie author’s nose wouldn’t change a thing. Those with authority tended to have connections. Lots of them.
“I’ve won both the Nebula and Hugo four times each, along with countless awards in the genre, pure literature, screenwriting, and children’s literature categories. My skills have been approved, and even though people might hate my guts, they have no choice but to approve of me as well. At the end of the day, my books are the ones flying off the shelves.”
“So, you survived solely on your skill as a writer.”
“That’s not entirely true,” he denied it, which took the editor by surprise.
“Luck. The fact that I’m the only survivor is evidence of that.”
Coin was a world-renowned author, and of course, given that he had had a rough start as an author, getting to that point meant having to fight his way through. Isabella recalled shedding tears when reading Coin’s writing. At the same time, she also recalled shedding tears reading books written by other authors. There had to have been authors who hadn’t been as lucky as Coin, and even more suffered under an unfair system.
“It’s all made by men,” Coin said. Both system and authority had been born out of the hands of men, and that applied to just about everything Isabella saw when looking over Coin’s shoulders. It was a bitter reality, and it was all the more vivid to Coin.
“In this world, there are murderers as well as doctors.”
“Yes, just like in your writing,” Isabella said, remembering one of Coin’s manuscripts in the past. A murderer and a doctor had been two of the characters in one of the novels Coin had written. “Someone who committed a murder in order to protect their child, and another who revived the dying patient for money and fame. Someone who became a murderer after killing a burglar, and another who became a doctor after saving a murderer.”
“That’s right. It’s my job to write about people,” Coin said with his eyes fixed on the window. Although Isabella wasn’t seeing anything particular, Coin had to think otherwise. “Now, tell me. Whose side are you on?”
Crossing her arms, Isabella played along with the author’s childish attitude.
“He stabbed a person to death, though.”
“But the court rules it’s self-defense.”
“… I’d still take the doctor’s side.”
“Right. You mean the one that takes bribes and only accepts patients he feels like,” Coin said with an apparent sarcasm in his tone.
“Yep, that doctor. The one that neglects patients who are poor and helpless,” the editor answered, standing her ground.
“Because the murderer bought his innocense. I just can’t accept it.”
“I knew you wouldn’t. I’m sure there are plenty of readers out there who think like you. At the same time, there should be just as many who would disagree with you,” Coin said.
“But you know what? Both sides of the argument are wrong. Both of those characters are monsters, so there’s no use in choosing a side. Those characters changed once they tasted the sweet temptation of their world.”
“I thought it was your job to write about people?” Isabella said poignantly.
“That’s the problem. The monsters always turn out to be people in the end.”
Coin’s writing was both warning and insult. It was a means of pointing fingers at the uncomfortable truth that said, ‘There exist people like this, and you, too, may very well be like them one day. In fact, some of you are already there.”
“Then, whose side are you on?” Isabella asked.
“I’m on my side,” he said at once, and the editor played along, “Opposed to what?”
“To myself before I started writing. As everyone knows, I tend to soften up when I write. It’s only gotten worse as of late.”
“That’s something I don’t hear every day. The difference must be apparent only to you.”
“Well, in any case, that’s why I’m on my side.”
Isabella clicked her tongue. Although she wanted to let him have it, there was no means to do it. She couldn’t think of anything to say. Then, she remembered a coworker of hers who had decided to leave the company last month. The coworker had already been searching for a new job, and their young age didn’t work to their advantage. Everyone around them, including Isabella, had tried to talk the coworker out of their decision because they knew just how cruel the world could be. It would be a battle that the coworker had no chance of winning. When hearing Coin say that he had softened up, Isabella couldn’t help but chuckle. According to the world-renowned author she had been working with, she was supposed to be rooting for him rather than opposing him. Then, Coin turned away all of a sudden.
“So, I have no problem showing off to Yun Woo. If anything, I should be showing myself off to him because it’s something to be proud of. All these literary societies will have to give me more awards, and more people will have to read more of my books. Even if Yun Woo were to achieve the Double Crown, he would still have a ways to go until he caught up to me, and I have been going out of my way to let him know that.”
Isabella shook her head at the author’s paradoxical thought process.
“There’s nothing tackier than showing off your wealth.”
“Maybe in the hierarchical sense.”
“Huh. Does that mean you recognize that Yun Woo’s skill level is equivalent to yours?”
At her question, Coin’s mood deteriorated in no time. Then, he turned around and laid himself on his bed. Letting him be, she checked her phone and said, “Why don’t we make our way to the ceremony, now? The people from Dong Baek Publishing are already there.”
The author remained silent, and Isabella sighed heavily, saying, “Here we go again.”
In the end, Coin and Isabella ended up running late for the ceremony, interrupting the presenter working the crowd up. In wasn’t long before the crowd in the hall, which was significantly bigger than the one for Nebula’s ceremony, recognized Coin’s unnecessarily confident presence. Everyone there was an author, and authors tended to be sensitive to their surroundings.
“Kelley Coin,” somebody let out. Among them, were those who blamed Yun Woo for sending Coin as his representative.
“Why isn’t he saying anything all of a sudden? Juho asked looking at the presenter on the screen. Although talking uninterruptedly even up to a moment before, the older, half-bald presenter was looking into the distance in a daze. Meanwhile, Susan shrugged while eating her popcorn, “Who knows? Maybe there’s been an accident of sorts.”
Juho had flown from New York just the day before. He had stayed in Manhattan for three days before that, catching up with Nabi in the meantime, who was on a business trip. Unfortunately, meeting with Sanders proved to be difficult due to their conflict in schedules, forcing them to hold off on their meeting. Meanwhile, eating bread made and offered by Susan, Juho thought back on the time he met with Nabi. She had taken the young author to a Korean restaurant in the States.
“It still feels surreal to think that I was at the ceremony when you won the Nebula. You weren’t there, of course, but that’s just a minor detail. That had to be one of the happiest days of my life.”
“But I’m not ready to let up just yet.”
Juho didn’t find her words surprising. She was an ambitious person, and it seemed like her mind was already full of thoughts about the Hugo Award. As the young author remained unfazed, the agent slammed her hand down next to a plate on the table and said, “If you were to achieve the Double Crown, you’ll be the center of global attention, Mr. Woo.”
“You mean, more than I already am? I don’t know if I like the sound of that.”
“What are you talking about!? Everyone will look up to you! No author has ever made a name for themselves at your age!” she said, looking straight at the young author’s eyes. “Everyone will think that you’ve led a successful life.”
At that, Juho chuckled and said, “You think so?”
“Of course! There are plenty of people out there who want to be like you, live like you, and lead a life like yours, even as we speak.”
Juho couldn’t remember what he had said to Nabi in response because he had been distracted by another thought. He reminisced to his past. Everyone had probably thought of him as someone who led a failed life, and the name Yun Woo had always been associated with downfall and misfortune. The media had constantly shown his face on the screen and brought up his name once people forgot about him. Did the unfortunate author think that he had led a failed life, too? Perhaps that had been why he had drowned his brain in alcohol as a means to avoid thinking about his life.
“What do you think?”
Juho looked up at Susan’s voice. She was holding a shiny white teacup in her hand, which looked new.
“Oh, you mean the Hugo Award.”
Then, Susan stared intently at the young author.
“What’s the matter?”
“You don’t seem nervous. Not one bit. Your editor, on the other hand, seems like he’s on the verge of having a heart attack.”
At that, Juho looked at Nam Kyung, who was sitting next to him, and whose limbs were shaking uncontrollably.
“Are you OK?”
“I feel like my heart’s about to burst,” the editor said, looking deathly pale. At that, Juho was made certain that he wasn’t joking.
“Should I call an ambulance?”
“I’m OK… for now.”
Juho looked at the two talking candidly. There was not one bit of awkwardness in the air from the moment they first met. Being an editor, Nam Kyung excelled in interpersonal relationships. On top of that, Susan was just as interesting.
“It’s an honor to be sharing this moment with you, Mr. Woo.”
“Same here,” Susan said, placing her hand on the editor’s, which was still shaking uncontrollably.
“Me too. Watching the ceremony on live TV at Kelley Coin’s house? I’m flattered.”
At that moment, the crowd on TV exploded into applause, and the three turned their eyes toward the screen at once.
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