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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
“Congratulations, Mr. Woo! The Double Crown! You’ve done it!”
“I was so overwhelmed when the presenter said your name!”
Dong Baek and Jang Mi said, sitting in front of a wall with red wallpaper on it. Juho was seeing them for the first time since winning the Hugo Award. While the young author had watched the ceremony live from Coin’s residence, both Dong Baek and Jang Mi had been at the scene. Juho bowed to them as an expression of gratitude. If it weren’t for them, ‘Language of God’ would have never come out to the world. A book had to go through a slew of processes until it was released. When an author won an award, the honor wasn’t meant to be hogged by the author alone.
“How was your trip?” Jang Mi asked, curious about his visit to Coin’s residence. Then, the young author gave her a brief description of the house, starting with Coin’s apartment in Manhattan and then talking about the corn plantation on the way to the house. The president and the editor listened intently to the young author’s story. After all, it was about none other than Kelley Coin.
“He made us breakfast, too.”
“Oh, my! How’d it taste?”
“It just tasted like bacon.”
The bacon had been quite the delicacy in and of itself, and cooking it on a frying pan had only enhanced the flavor. Meanwhile, Jang Mi looked at the young author with envy and added that she was a fan of Coin’s books.
“How about you, Ms. Hong? How was Worldcon?”
“The best,” she said, sticking her thumb out. With that, Jang Mi and Dong Baek told the young author about their experience at the convention. Because the location varied every year, the convention also tended to change slightly every year, and according to the two, the Worldcon in Denver had been quite liberating.
“We were getting a lot of questions about you, too.”
In some sense, it was natural for people to ask about an author who wasn’t attending the ceremony. While they talked, Jang Mi spun the Lazy Susan on the table, and the dishes on it switched places with one another.
“A lot of people were asking if we had pictures of you, too.”
“And just as many people were curious about your writing process.”
“We were getting a lot of questions about what kind of books you read.”
“As well as your favorite Hollywood celebrity.”
According to Jang Mi’s own words, Worldcon had been a one-of-a-kind experience. Then, the young author was struck with the thought that the piercing in between her nostrils would’ve shone all the more at the convention.
“We’ve been getting those questions in Korea every day, but it felt different hearing them in another country.”
Then, she brought up the names of the people who had asked her questions. From a bestselling American author to an editor from a publishing company in the UK, a leading official of an association, and a competing candidate for the same award, there was quite an array. Considering the occasion, it wasn’t surprising that titles like those were being brought up.
“Was it fun?” Juho asked, and Dong Baek smiled at the young author’s innocent question.
“Honestly, we were there to work, so we had to be on our toes a lot of the time. There was some trouble while we’re there, too. At the end of the day though, it doesn’t change the fact that it was an unforgettable experience.”
“I mean, we were the first Koreans to be invited to the ceremony! Yes, it came with a heavy responsibility, but the result couldn’t have been more rewarding.”
Then, dipping his chopsticks into his noodle soup, Juho said, “Do you think it would’ve been better for me to be there?” Though his tone was indifferent, the meaning was much more profound. At that, the president and the editor locked eyes with each other, communicating that they were on the same page. The young author seemed to be pondering something important, so Jang Mi took the initiative.
“Well, it would’ve been nice for us. I definitely think you would’ve had a lot of fun if you were there. There were a lot of things to see. Although, it was kind of hectic.”
Then, Dong Baek backed her up, “But, let’s put it this way, you were able to stay in Coin’s residence BECAUSE you decided not to attend the ceremony, am I right? Every decision has its pros and cons.”
That time, picking up a piece of bok choy out of his soup with his chopsticks, Juho said, “Should I reveal my identity?”
A rattling sound reverberated throughout the room at the jarring statement from the young author. Meanwhile, the young author simply smiled. The comfortable atmosphere froze over in a matter of seconds.
“Uh…” Jang Mi let out, moving her lips in an attempt to speak. However, putting the thoughts running amok in her mind into words was proving to be a challenge. Yun Woo revealing his identity was a substantial matter, and it was especially true in the time they were living in, immediately after a nineteen-year-old author had achieved the Double Crown.
“May I ask how you came to that?” Dong Baek asked quietly.
To which, the young author answered in a calm tone of voice, “I thought it was about time for me to start thinking about it.”
The room sank into silence. Sensing the tension in the room, the young author said, “Frankly, I’ve been hearing mostly good things since my first book.”
“Right. The beginning of Yun Woo,” the president said. It was a rather heavy answer to a light-hearted remark.
“I had just come up to high school back then, and something was telling me that things were about to get complicated, so I figured it would be wise to take a step back. You know?”
“Right. I agree that it was a wise decision,” Dong Baek said.
“I’ve written a number of pieces from then on, and thankfully, I’ve yet to disappoint my readers.”
“On the contrary, you’ve brought them joy.”
“But here’s the thing. That’s not why I write. I’m not writing in order to please others.”
Dong Baek and Jang Mi nodded at his statement simultaneously. According to their experiences, each author had their own motive for writing. Not only was it their means of making a living, but it was also a need that arose from self-realization. While some dedicated their entire lives to their writing, there also existed those who simply wrote as a means of passing time.
At that point, Juho added, “Not to say that I’m looking for negative criticism, of course. I’m human too, so I do think about it. If I were to be honest, I want every single one of my readers to be happy.”
“You do?” Juho asked
“What was that? Oh, right. Yes. I believe contradiction is the word we’re looking for here.”
Then, leaning back on his chair’s backrest, Juho asked, “So, should I come clean about my identity?”
The room sank back into silence. Then, Dong Baek asked as he took a sip of water, “Is that what you want, Mr. Woo?”
“I’m not sure.”
“Or would you rather stay anonymous?”
“I think that would bother me in the long run.”
“… So, it seems like it wouldn’t help one bit if I were to suggest that you follow your heart.” Juho nodded at his statement, and Dong Baek added with the proper posture of a businessman, “Well, here’s my thought.”
“Please. That’s why I brought this up in the first place,” Juho said.
‘He’s really mature for his age,’ the president thought to himself. Then, he brought up the thought he had been having for a long time, “I think you should reveal your identity.”
He wanted the young author to come out to the world with his mask off.
“Why is that?” Juho asked.
To which, Dong Baek answered without even taking the time to breathe, “Because it’ll boost sales substantially.”
“Yes. If you were to reveal yourself, the books would sell even more.”
“But, my understanding is that my books are already selling well.”
“They’ll sell even more,” the president emphasized. They’ll sell even more. As the president of a publishing company, Dong Baek was well aware that every author wished that their books would be read by more people.
“You seem to be certain of that. How would you know? It’s very possible that people will be disappointed to learn that Yun Woo was nothing like the Yun Woo they had imagined.”
“You’re incredibly charming, Mr. Woo,” Dong Baek said, and Juho looked away at the president’s sudden, slightly uncomfortable compliment. Nonetheless, Dong Baek didn’t let up. If anything, he pressed on, “You have a mysterious side to you. For example, your calm, unfazed nature, as if you had poured all of your feelings into your work, and your maturity. You’re strangely mature for your age, but I find us often speaking the same language, Mr. Woo. I see how you’re able to write like that, and to understand is to accept.”
Dong Baek was certain.
“I still remember the day when I talked to you for the first time. As far as I’m aware, you’ll be greeted with opened arms by your fans, Mr. Woo.”
Juho recalled the president showing similar confidence previously. It had happened when they first discussed ‘Language of God.’ His prediction had become a reality, and it showed that he had the ability to read the market and the readers. Charming. Shaking off the memories of the lowest point in his past life, Juho said, “You’re very convincing, Mr. Lee.”
As Juho picked up his water cup, the atmosphere eased up again.
“Anyway, those are my thoughts. Should you need a press conference, please don’t hesitate to let us know, Mr. Woo. We’ll take care of it.”
“I’m not sure if that’ll be necessary.”
“Just so you’re aware of the option,” Dong Baek said as he spun the Lazy Susan. “There’s still time, so think it over, Mr. Woo.”
It was the complete opposite of Seo Kwang’s opinion. Nevertheless, Juho nodded with a smile on his face.
“Should I reveal my identity?”
Although Juho was murmuring to himself, it was still loud enough to be heard by those around him. Then, a pool cue came into Juho’s view, and Seo Joong sprung up from his place, asking, “What!? Are you serious!?”
“Say it louder, why don’t you?” a voice said, criticizing Seo Joong and his behavior. It was Dong Gil.
“How can I be quiet!? Yun Woo’s gonna reveal his identity!”
“Nobody’s said anything about revealing anybody’s identity. It was a question.”
“Well, when people ask questions like that, they usually have an answer in their minds.” Then, looking toward the young author, Seo Joong said, “Am I right?”
With that, Juho rose from his seat. Then, three of the balls on the table sank into holes with a crisp sound that reverberated through the living room. One cue ball was moving the entire table. Buzzing through each other, the other balls dodged or collided with the white cueball, either bouncing against the cushions or sinking into a hole. When a ball started moving, it couldn’t stop itself.
“Having trouble figuring out what you wanna do?” Dong Gil asked, and Juho said with a shrug, “Just something every high school junior goes through.”
“Oh-ho! Man, you’re a junior now, huh? I spent ages deciding on whether or not I should go to college.”
“That’s different,” Dong Gil said with a disgruntled look on his face as if annoyed with Seo Joong for putting his own insignificant worries on par with Yun Woo’s, and Seo Joong responded by taunting him, wiggling his butt.
“Eh, how different can it be? Everybody feels like their bad decisions will make the world fall apart at one point. I mean, I was going through a living hell when I was writing ‘One Room,’ but in hindsight, I realize that it was hardly any different from the time when I was trying to decide whether to go to college or not.”
Then, shoving his hands into the pockets of his sweatpants, he added, “So, coming from somebody who wrestled with similar concerns, how about you give it about five years or so? You know, think long and hard.”
“Don’t listen to him. It won’t help at all,” Dong Gil said, giving Seo Joong a disgusted look. Then, he shared his thoughts unhurriedly, “I’ve never been anonymous, let alone win the Nebula or the Hugo. I’ve never written anything like your pieces, either. I’m not sure what kind of advice I can offer.”
“What I do know is that it’s impossible to stay hidden forever,” Dong Gil said, sharing his level-headed opinion. Just as he had said, considering the circumstances, it would be incredibly difficult to conceal his identity, both impeccably and indefinitely.
Seo Joong interjected, “All right, how about this? You wait it out as long as you can. That doesn’t sound half bad, does it?”
It was an interesting opinion.
“If what Dong Gil said is true, then it means your identity will come to light sooner or later. In that case, just enjoy yourself.”
Before the young author even had time to answer, Dong Gil said cold-heartedly, “No, it’d be better to reveal it yourself in that case. It’s your identity, after all.”
“Do you have to exaggerate everything like that?”
“You tend to make light of the world around you.”
“And you’re so rigid. Ugh, makes me feel like I’m choking.”
In between their conversation, Juho organized his thoughts.
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