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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
In response to the host asking about failures, the young author said, “It’s exactly as I said. I’m sure you’ve experienced failure at some point in your life, right? It’s embarrassing, and you’d do anything to go back and fix it. Yet, you hope it will benefit you somehow in the future. That’s how my failures are to me.”
At that moment, a quiet chuckle came out of nowhere. It was Pyung Jin.
“I’m not gonna lie, Mr. Woo. That sounds odd coming from you.”
“I don’t blame you. I get that a lot,” Juho said. He had often been referred to as an author who was immune to failure. Whenever he would hear that, the distance between others and himself dawned on the young author all the more. Now, he was finding himself in a similar position to the host’s. The reason they weren’t making small talk with each other was simple: they were strangers to each other. Meanwhile, the host took the opportunity to speak as the conversation came to an end, “Does that mean you went through the same process when writing the new novel?”
“‘An Insect Leaves No Trace,'” Pyung Jin murmured quietly.
“You can say that.”
“It’s a very interesting title. It reminds me of the title of your first book, ‘Trace of a Bird.'”
Then, as Juho shifted his position on the seat, the host asked the very first question about the new novel, “Is there any connection between the title of your new book and your first?”
When the finalized title was announced, many had made a connection to Juho’s debut title, ‘Trace of a Bird.’ However, the young author shook his head slowly and said, “No. The working title was ‘Insect.’ I kept playing around with it until something came to me, and that’s how the title came about.”
“So, there’s no correlation between the two whatsoever?”
“I wouldn’t go as far as saying that they’re completely unrelated, either. The atmospheres of those two novels are just the opposite of each other. If ‘Trace of a Bird’ can be described as simple and liberating, ‘Insect’ is convoluted and closed off, which explains why a bird would leave a trace when an insect wouldn’t.”
The host listened intently and with a determined look on his face, as if he wasn’t going to miss even the most minute of information. And when Juho finished speaking, he looked at the critic and said, “What was your take on the book, Mr. Lee? Would you mind enlightening us as a critic?”
“This is slightly embarrassing, especially with Mr. Woo around,” the critic said, hesitating. However, despite his attitude, Juho was fully aware that he was a person who wasn’t afraid to speak his mind. Remembering the bitter criticism he had heard from Pyung Jin, the young author said, “Please.”
Then, straightening his tie, the critic said, “Frankly, when I first heard that your new novel was going to be about love, I immediately expected to see the pure side of Yun Woo. I was curious about how you’d portray love on one hand, all the while holding on to my preconceived notions about your age on the other.”
Juho listened to him quietly.
“But all of that shattered completely about five pages into the book. Into thousands of pieces,” the critic said, emphasizing the last part of the sentence. Meanwhile, the host played along to him, nodding.
“A claustrophobic feel. Forgotten and revived memories. The frame story really shined as a stable delivery mechanism for such a bizarre story about raising a bug,” the critic said, his sparkling tie moving with him everytime he spoke.
“Everything worked in perfect harmony, and it was very impactful. Before I knew it, I caught myself thinking, ‘Yun Woo’s done it again.’ There was a reason behind your fearlessness in releasing a new book at a time like this. I realized just how confident you were.”
Then, Juho noticed the camera focusing on him, observing as if they were going to capture even the smallest change in his expression. However, the young author simply blinked.
“And there were also things that went beyond my understanding this time around.”
“And what were they?” the host asked. There was no way that he was going to let that opportunity slide. As he gave the floor to the critic, Pyung Jin said, “The book hasn’t been out for that long, so I won’t go as far as spoiling it, but I think anybody who reads the book will know where I’m coming from.”
“And where exactly is that?” Juho asked. Although his expression shook initially from the young author’s straight-forward question, the critic got right to the point, “Have you ever drunk alcohol, Mr. Woo?”
Then, barely managing to keep a straight face, Juho said, “I have. A handful of times when my parents offered me some.”
“Have you ever gotten drunk before?”
“In front of my parents? I wouldn’t dare.”
“It happens growing up. If I were to be honest, when I was a student, I drank with my friends without the adults knowing. At a school trip, for example. Did you ever take alcohol to those trips, say, in a water bottle?”
“No,” Juho answered honestly.
(TL’s Note: It’s a common school experience in Korea to go on school trips that span a number of days. This is where students who are more “curious” bring alcohol without their parents and/or teachers knowing, most likely to share with their friends at night.)
He had never gotten drunk in front of his parents or snuck alcohol in his water bottle to a school trip or retreat. However, he did recall drinking day and night as an adult.
“Why are we talking about alcohol all of a sudden?” the host said as if keep Pyung Jin from going too far. However, that was merely another way to continue the interview.
“There are a number of scenes in the story, both inner and outer, that involve gradual memory loss. But the way everything unfolds has an uncanny resemblance to someone who’s growing drunk,” the critic said. He was catching on to the young author’s intention quite accurately.
“Memory serves as an important piece and a device within the novel. It brings a paradoxical element to a story that is gradually closing up as it progresses, and it brings readers a sense of liberation. It’s bound to drive somebody crazy because of how frustrating it is. At the same time, it’s just so incredibly satisfying. You might be wondering what I’m getting at, but you’ll know as soon as you read the book yourself,” the critic said, skillfully adding a subtle recommendation for the book, like someone who was a regular in a book-related TV show. “How were you able to portray that with such realism when you’re underage yourself?”
“I’m flattered, but there’s not much to it. I just observed people around me when they were drinking. That’s all,” the young author answered unhurriedly.
At that, the critic shook his head subtly, as if he wasn’t buying Juho’s answer.
“In that case, how did you think of utilizing something that you have yet to experience in your book?”
“I saw something that’s left quite the impression on me once. After that, I realized just how ugly a person can be when they’re drunk.”
“… I see,” Pyung Jin said as he let up. However, he was merely looking for another opportunity to ask even more questions. “Have you ever had any urges, then?”
“Like wanting to try alcohol yourself or wanting to get drunk so that you can have a deeper understanding of what you’re writing.”
Like a critic, Pyung Jin was well aware of the tendencies of authors.
“Would you rather me just come clean?”
“I have had those urges, and it turns out they become stronger over time.”
Without a doubt, Juho had had the urge to drink, and it became more pronounced when he wrote. It had to be a change that came with time. His life had become a mess from alcohol abuse in the past, but the more he grew further from that past, and the more his memories of that past faded, the stronger the urges became. However, Juho chose not to give into his urges because, within him, there also lived the fear of failure.
“And how do you alleviate them?”
“I’d say liberate is a better way to describe it. After hearing Coin’s personal account of his experience with alcoholism, I drive them out with fear.”
It was widely-known that Coin’s alcoholism eventually led him to admit himself into a hospital. Nevertheless, as the host briefly explained Coin to the future viewers, Pyung Jin still didn’t seem entirely convinced.
“Is that all?” he asked.
“Would you like to know how I was able to write that scene with such realism?”
“… By all means,” Pyung Jin said, his eyes sparkling as much as the stones on his tie while glaring at the young author. At that, Juho decided to quote a piece of advise he had received from another author.
“So, this is something I learned not too long ago.”
“When you don’t know something, all you gotta do is ask, apparently,” the young author said. He had asked questions to his old alcoholic self the entire time he wrote. ‘Is this close enough? Is this good enough to get some sort of reaction out of you?’
“I know somebody who wasted his life away, all the while blaming it on his issue with alcohol. When I took my manuscript to that person, he turned me down in the blink of an eye, saying that he couldn’t afford another drink with what I was offering to him.”
At that, a certain look appeared on the critic’s face, as if he was thinking: ‘He dared treat Yun Woo’s manuscript with such disrespect?’
“So, I made revisions so that he could at least afford a drink, but to no avail. According to his own words, it was so boring that the words shook before his eyes. We repeated that process a number of times, and eventually, he snatched the paper from my hand and wrote the words himself. Although, they were only legible to him, unfortunately.”
It was truly a bleak sight.
“So, what happened in the end? Did he read what ended up on the final draft?”
“Yes, he did.”
“What did he say?” Pyung Jin asked.
“He just quietly listened and went about his way,” Juho answered. Unfortunately, the man hadn’t said anything.
That had been the end of it. No compliments or affirmations. Finally, the critic let up quietly. From then on, the host asked a number of other questions, and as the taping neared its end, the host turned toward the critic and said, “Mr. Lee, if you’d like to add anything before we wrap up, now would be the time.”
At that moment, Pyung Jin seemed quite dissatisfied.
“I can’t help but wish we had more time. I was hoping we could get to talking about your other books. Oh, before I forget, there’s a show that I’ve been appearing in. Do you know which one I’m talking about, Mr. Woo?”
It was ‘The Great Book Club.’
“Yes, I’m a fan.”
“Is that so? Then, I’d like to take the opportunity to ask you to join us in the near future. I’d love for us to touch on the topics that we couldn’t get to today.”
“Is it OK for you to bring up another show here?”
“It’s fine. They’re from the same station.”
Although Juho felt that he had answered a quite a few questions, the critic still looked as though he wasn’t satisfied. Seeing that, it dawned on the young author just how curious his fans had to have been for the last three years.
“Well, that was your first official interview. How was it?”
“Yes. I didn’t have any trouble, thanks to you.”
“Do you think our viewers will get to know your identity, which was shrouded in mystery up to this point, a little better?”
“I sure hope so.”
“I’m not sure what the final cut will look like, but I’m sure nobody’s going to doubt that you wrote those books yourself after seeing it,” the host said after some brief contemplation.
As the young author smiled subtly, the host added, “Thanks for joining us today, Mr. Woo,” looking at him and bowing. When Juho looked up, the camera was focused on the host, and that told the young author that he could no longer speak. Then, the host bowed to the camera, marking the end of the taping session.
“Great job, everyone!”
The producer and the writer shouted as they rose from their seats. Meanwhile, feeling his strength leaving him as his body loosened up after the taping, Juho breathed a sigh of relief, paying no attention to his shoulders dropping. Then, the very people who he had greeted him before the start of the show came and greeted Juho all over again, as if they’d gone somewhere else once the taping began, “You did great, Mr. Woo. You’re a great speaker, just as I thought you would be.”
As the young author responded accordingly, the same people asked, “Would you mind if I ask for your autograph?”
“Not at all.”
So, the visitors, who had watched the taping, started crowding around Juho once again. There were still some people who had yet to received the young author’s autograph. Taking the books one by one, Juho wrote his name and signed them, taking pictures with those who requested it. After that, the young author returned to the waiting room with his editor, and, to Nam Kyung, who was complimenting him with excitement, Juho said, “Can we go home now?”
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