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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
Catching on to Juho glancing over his shoulder, the interviewer naturally followed the young author’s eyes to the stacks of boxes and manuscript paper. There was simply too much for anyone to steal, and even if they were to go missing, that wouldn’t invalidate the fact that Yun Woo would have actually written the number of manuscripts that would have been stolen. Yun Woo had something that could never be stolen in his possession. After looking at the awe-inspiring sight of cardboard boxes and manuscript paper, the interviewer moved on to ask a question, “So, would it be safe to assume that your method of fighting fear is consistent with your prolific writing?”
Writing really was an emotional outlet for Juho, but did that mean that there was a correlation between his way of releasing his emotions and his prolific writing?
“Hard to say. What comes out of me as a byproduct of my emotions tends to be… well, overly emotional, so I keep it all at home, as you can see. The stories are so sloppy that I almost feel sick when reading them. But in terms of training my endurance for writing, it seems like it did help in some way.”
Then, after pausing briefly to collect his thoughts, the interviewer asked shortly after, “So, what about fear? Your fear enables you to write prolifically, doesn’t it?”
“It does help, but I never publish a book as if I’m being chased by my own fears.”
Several of Yun Woo’s books were still in the bestsellers’ rankings of the bookstores across the country. There was a lot in common between publishing multiple books within a short period of time and sprinting. No matter where one was, the scenery grew fuzzy and blurry when they were sprinting. Then, as the interviewer was about to move on to the next question, the young author said, “I guess it is true in a sense that the surroundings become a lot less visible when sprinting.”
Hearing the young author’s answer, a troubled look appeared on the interviewer’s face. At the same time, he seemed delighted by it.
“I gotta be honest with you, Mr. Woo. You’re impossible to read.”
“You think so?”
“We need more people like you to interview.”
Unfortunately, Juho had no intention of participating in another interview. Then, taking the notes in his hands, the interviewer flipped them to the next page.
“OK. Now, why don’t we talk about the results of the awards? You were the first winner from Asia to win two of the four most prestigious literary awards for science fiction. You were staying at Kelley Coin’s house in the States when the winners were being announced, right?”
“Yes, that’s right,” Juho said. The magazine had also visited Coin’s residence at one point, and at the brief mention of the place, the interviewer played along immediately, saying, “It’s a beautiful house.”
“I agree. The park nearby is really nice, too.”
Then, after talking about Coin’s residence for a little while, the interviewer got right to the point.
“How did it feel when you found out that you had gotten the award?”
“I was happy. There’s no mistake that the award was a tremendous honor. At the same time, I think it felt more like the award came to me as my work grew out of control rather than from me earning it.”
“Grew out of control?”
“Yes. All I did to win the award was to write. That’s it. It’s nothing new to an author.”
The interviewer nodded, indicating that he understood where Juho was getting at.
“Did you ever regret not being able to attend the ceremonies?”
“Not really. At the end of the day, I’m the one who chose not to. More than saying that I was unable to attend them, it’d be more accurate to say that I didn’t.”
“I see. It appears to me that you’re not all that crazy about winning awards. You’ve set a record by being the youngest winner of the Nebula AND the Hugo, and I think ‘Language of God’ was definitely worth that much. How did you feel when you found out that you were the youngest winner of those awards?”
“I didn’t feel anything in particular.”
“Did you ever think that you were moving up too fast?”
That thought was no longer in Juho’s mind because of the sheer number of years he had lived up to that point.
“There’s a saying that goes, ‘It’s never too late,’ which makes me wonder if there’s even a point in distinguishing when something’s too early or too late.”
“You don’t think that your journey leading up to the award was all that short, do you?”
“Do you think winning awards was ever a goal of mine?” the young author asked, and quickly recognizing the error in his interpretation of Juho’s answer, the interviewer rephrased his question, “As you mentioned earlier, it seems like you define success a little different from most people. Did you not want to win awards?”
“I did start developing an appetite for it when I was nominated, but it wasn’t even on my mind before that.”
“Did you not know about the awards at all?”
“I knew they were around.”
“Were you not expecting that to be nominated?”
“That’s probably a better way to put it,” Juho said, and the interviewer asked with narrowed eyes, “Is there something you want more than awards?”
After a brief pause, the young author asked, “What made you think that?”
“I just don’t feel any sense of accomplishment in your answers whatsoever.”
At that, Juho chuckled quietly. Just as the interviewer had said, it wasn’t the awards that Juho was after. It had never been them from the get-go.
“I still have a ways to go as a writer, and there are still mountains to climb for me. It’s too early for me to indulge in my accomplishments.”
“Aren’t you proud of yourself whenever you see the trophy? Although, I don’t see it anywhere in the house,” the interviewer said looking around the house. In a place completely void of furniture, chairs, posters, or anything baseball related, it didn’t make sense for there to be trophies. Then, remembering where the trophies were, Juho said, “They should be in boxes somewhere. I’m not really sure which ones, though.”
It was bound to come out eventually, and Juho had a vague memory of having packed them together with his clothes. Meanwhile, noticing the young author’s lack of interest in the whereabouts of the awards, the interviewer asked, “OK, I get that winning awards isn’t really a priority for you, but you seem almost careless about them. Do you really know just how prestigious those awards are, Mr. Woo? They’re priceless in the literary world.”
Because Juho was well aware of the value and significance of the awards, he shook his head.
“You don’t think that I went out of my way to write a speech for ceremonies of awards I don’t even know the names of just so that Coin could read them on my behalf, do you? Like I said, I was happy to win those awards. What else can I do?”
As the young author finished speaking, he noticed the interviewer glancing over his shoulder. Although it was a quick movement, Juho had caught him nonetheless. The interviewer was able to find answers to his questions even without hearing them directly from the young author. Then, without asking if Juho was burdened or afraid to hear the news that he had won, the interviewer moved on, and Juho was able to tell just how experienced the interviewer was in interviewing authors in their homes.
“So, what IS your goal in life?”
Though it was a question that Juho had expected the interviewer to overlook, the fact that Juho found it easy showed just how deep his desire was to be great. A great storyteller. Meanwhile, the room sank into silence as the young author immersed himself in thought. Finally, Juho decided that now wasn’t the right time to bring it up.
“Well, to get all my stuff sorted out, first of all. Especially the manuscripts.”
“Oh, right. That could be a goal, too. It’s important to keep things organized,” the interviewer said. Although he seemed caught off guard for a brief moment, he kept asking more questions, as if telling the young author that he wasn’t going to let up that easily. Nevertheless, that didn’t last long.
“All right. Well, I have a feeling that I’d be making a fool of myself if I were to tell you my life’s goal is. I don’t want your readers to think that I’m begging them to buy my books just so that I can get there sooner. I wanna get there with my own ability.”
After a brief pause, the interviewer raised his hand and let out a subtle chuckle, almost like a sigh.
“Perhaps, you’re a lot more experienced with interviews than I realized. I didn’t think you’d turn down the question like that.”
An interviewee had the right to refuse to answer any question that they didn’t feel comfortable answering. However, exercising that right was another challenge in and of itself, and that was especially true for those who lacked experience with interviews. The simple fact of refusing someone didn’t come easy to a lot of people, and most interviewers didn’t let up that easily. Knowing all that, Juho reminded himself that he had to be all the more emphatic in his answers, while still remaining polite. Leaving no room for questions, Juho led the interview so that it would be rude for the interviewer to ask about the subject.
Although it was clear that the interviewer had a lot more questions about it that he wanted to ask, he got over it by moving on to the next portion of the interview. His impressive concentration helped Juho tremendously, enough to make the young author forget just how rigid and uncomfortable his chair was.
“My understanding is that there are some books that haven’t been exported yet. Is that right?”
Not all of Yun Woo’s books had been translated, which meant that they could be enjoyed only by those who knew Hangul.
“Yes, a short story called ‘River.'”
“And I found out that you even won a literary award with that piece, the youngest winner in Korea.”
“It’s a privilege, really.”
“Would you care to explain a little bit of it?”
At that, Juho gave the interviewer a brief summary of the story, which was about a person who was drowning to death.
“So, it’s about death, then?”
“In simple terms, yes.”
“Death was definitely one of the endings that you showcased in ‘Language of God,’ and your attitude toward death left quite the impression on me. Is ‘River’ any similar to that?”
They were completely different stories. Not only were the dying people from different social standings and situations, but the setting was also entirely different.
“I’d say ‘River’ is a bit more personal, and it feels somewhat like a confession.”
“As in, of your own?”
“No, I’m referring to the feel it carries.”
Seeing that the interviewer was expressing a strong interest, Juho decided to take a step back, “Although, I don’t know how much is known about the piece, so I don’t know if I can even talk about it.”
Because the interviewer hadn’t read the piece, it was inevitable that his questions would be shallow. Yet, he asked again, “How is it like a confession? Have you experienced something similar to what happens to the protagonist?”
“Actually, yes. I drowned once.”
Of course, the interviewer didn’t buy it.
“I really hope somebody translates this,” he said.
“It’s a short story,” Juho said with a shrug, and the interviewer approached the subject matter from a different angle.
“It might be entirely foreign to us, but it was incredibly popular here in Korea, right? So much so, that your fellow authors who participated in putting the magazine together had a book concert. You never attended, of course.”
Juho hadn’t publically attended the concert. At that moment, the young author hesitated, and the interviewer caught on immediately.
“Is there something you’d like to add?”
“I’m all ears.”
Because the young author had been giving evasive answers, the interviewer asked upfront, and Juho came to a conclusion that now was the time to bring it up.
“It was a while ago, but I didn’t attend the concert as an author.”
“And what does that mean?”
“It means I attended as an audience member.”
“Wait! You mean you were there?” the interviewer asked after catching on to what Juho was saying with a delay.
“Yes. I still remember my seat. A13.”
“… This will catch your readers by surprise, especially those who were sitting next to you. Please, do tell more,” the interviewer said, and Juho brought up a certain member of the audience that came to mind.
“I remember saying hello to someone who had brought a camera to take pictures of Yun Woo.”
“And did you two talk at all?”
“No, not really. It was while we were waiting in line, so we didn’t talk all that much. She was one of the people who had predicted that Yun Woo would be at the concert.”
“Well, seems like she was right,” the interviewer let out quietly, and Juho agreed.
“She showed me her camera, saying that she was ready to take pictures of Yun Woo the moment he appeared. I remember thinking, ‘Well, now would be the time to press that shutter release button.'”
As the photographer behind the interviewer burst into laughter, the interviewer said, “I sincerely hope she sees this interview.”
“I hope so too. I really want to take a picture with her.”
They were planning to release the magazine containing the interview in Korea as well. Although there was no way to know whether or not she still remembered that day, Juho was now ready to take a picture with her.
From then on, the interviewer asked about his writing process in great detail, such as habits and secret spots, and the young author answered each and every question with honesty.
“All right. I’d like to talk about your most recent book for a little bit.”
He was referring to the book with the photo of him and Coin, which was one of the hottest topics among readers.
“‘An Insect Leaves No Trace,’ was it?”
“First edition, one-million copies! If that isn’t impressive, I don’t know what is.”
As the young author nodded affirmingly, a subtle smile appeared on the interviewer’s face.
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