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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
“Your new book has been drawing massive attention since before its release, and the fact that it’s your first novel since your victory over the Hugo and that it includes a photo of you only added to the hype,” the interviewer said, and Juho nodded quietly.
“Also, your portrayal of love was quite riveting. I was completely taken by surprise when I read the book myself.”
Both fans in Korea and overseas were reacting similarly to the novel, and having read an article about it ahead of time, Juho nodded.
“A lot of people were expecting and predicting that the novel was going to be about pure love.”
“So they did.”
“So, you knew?”
“I know the internet just as well as I know English.”
As if the interview had just gotten a little easier, the interviewer smiled.
“Well, what was that like? I’m sure you already knew that the product you had in your hands was quite different from what most people were expecting.”
“I knew what people were expecting from me.”
“So, you weren’t all that worried about meeting their expectations, then?”
The interviewer seemed to think that the young author took no interest in what other people thought of him.
“No, I did try hard. I wrote so that I could meet my readers.”
Juho had been quite conscious of his readers, and with Juho’s answer, the interview took a different turn.
“Do you write for your readers?” the interviewer asked.
“Isn’t that what all authors do? A book can only be remembered if people read it. Readers are incredibly valuable to writers.”
“In that case, do you ever think to yourself that you want to give your readers what they want to see?”
“Of course. There have been times when I felt like giving the world what it wanted to see.”
As if he had expected that answer, no change appeared on the expression on the interviewer’s face aside from a subtle look of interest.
“Well, what do you think? Do you think your work up to this point is consistent with the kinds of stories this world wanted to see?”
“Hm. I don’t think so. They were stories that I wanted to write more so than stories that people from across the globe wanted. At the end of the day, I write for myself as well.”
Then, without looking at the notes in his hands, the interviewer said, “Your most recent novel was about goodbyes.”
As the young author remained silent, the interviewer kept on, “And it’s implied throughout the earlier parts of the novel. There’s no relationship with the opposite gender or any exciting encounter between two individuals anywhere. In fact, it’s just the opposite. The story’s about lifeforms that are growing further apart, and the only creature that is allowed to go into the boy’s body is the insect. Which, to me, sounds more like a goodbye than an encounter,” the interviewer said and asked, “So, how exactly did you want to portray love? What was the picture that you had in your mind?”
It was a relatively easy question, so Juho said, “I wanted to write a story that was unmoving.”
With that, the interviewer moved on to the next question without hesitation, “What brought you to do that?”
“I went to some amusement park with a romance writer I know.”
“… You don’t say,” the interviewer said, looking like he needed an explanation.
“There’s an author by the name of Sang Choi who is an expert when it comes to romance. We went to an amusement park once, and that’s when I thought of writing about love.”
“In conjunction with goodbye?”
“Yes,” Juho said, noticing the interviewer’s brow furrowing.
“I’m having trouble seeing the correlation. Aren’t amusement parks typically where people are happy? How were you able to think of an idea that is so contradictory to your surroundings?” the interviewer asked, speaking slightly faster.
“He asked me about my first love,” Juho said.
“Ah, all right,” the interviewer let out, sounding more relieved, as if he had found a clue. “That’s something I’d also be interested in hearing about.”
“I hate to disappoint you, but I couldn’t give him an answer.”
“Because I couldn’t remember,” Juho said. He didn’t recall feeling anxious that he hadn’t been able to remember. After all, it was natural for one to forget about goodbyes. Although, it did leave a bitter aftertaste.
“I tried as hard as I could to remember, but I just couldn’t for the life of me. Although, I’m pretty sure I was on cloud nine back when I was in love, and it started coming to me just how distant it had all become. On one hand, I felt like I’d matured on, but that I was a cold, heartless person on the other, which made me think to write about it.”
Then, the interviewer looked away from the young author for a little while. He had to be thinking about the book.
“In the beginning, there’s a man who’s leaving his hometown on a train, which is part of the outer story. He’s perpetually anxious, feeling like he’s forgotten something,” the interviewer said.
“And in light of your personal experience, would it be safe to assume that love is the thing he’s forgotten about and left behind?”
Even until the end, the novel offered no explanation. Similarly, the young author decided to speak sparingly about the mystery, “The lack of explanation in the novel was intended, but I don’t see a problem with your interpretation.”
At that, the interviewer nodded for a little while and asked, “Let’s talk about the inner story for a little bit. Your portrayal of the insect stood out quite a bit. Given that it was one of the central components of the novel, you went into great detail and length about the insect, almost as if you were obsessing over it. Was the insect modeled after an actual insect?”
At that, the blueish bug came to Juho’s mind.
“Yes, I actually came across it in the mountains,” he said.
“You don’t know what kind it was, do you?”
“No, unfortunately. It just fell on my forehead,” Juho said, pointing at his forehead, and a slight look of disgust appeared on the interviewer’s face.
“I was relaxing by the water, and something fell from the sky on my face. When I took it off my face, I saw that it was some bug. It was crawling all over me, as if I were a tree.”
“You’re not afraid of bugs, are you?”
“Not really, no.”
“Is the insect in the novel completely identical to its real-life counterpart?”
“Not necessarily. It took on a slightly different shape in my head.”
“Why did you go into such detail about the insect in the novel?”
“Probably for a number of reasons. There’s the presence of the insect, first of all, and part of me wanted to show readers how the boy came to fall in love with it. I also wanted to make it clear that the insect wasn’t a made up image in the boy’s mind… but I’d say that the biggest reason was that I wanted to.”
Juho had never had a solidified plan while writing the novel. His desire to write about the insect in great detail had simply been a natural occurrence, and he had wanted to convey the riveting colors of the insect in his writing.
“Maybe there was a part of me that didn’t want to forget. Should my memories about the insect start to fade, I could always refer back to my novel, where I left traces of it.”
“I thought insects weren’t supposed to leave any trace?” the interviewer said, chuckling quietly as if satisfied with his level of understanding.
“There seem to be a lot of similarities between you and the boy in the inner story, Mr. Woo.”
“I’m sure a lot of people out there are similar to the boy,” Juho said. People were bound to find at least one or two things they had in common with each other as long as they tried.
“Is there a character that you consider to be the closest representation of yourself?”
“… the closest representation?”
“Yes, among the characters you’ve created up to this point.”
Juho immersed himself in thought. All of the characters he had interacted with in his fantasy lingered before his eyes. Not only did they each come from different backgrounds, but every single one of them acted however they saw fit. In the end, after some contemplation, Juho said, “I don’t think I can pick one.”
“Is there none?”
“I never intended for a character to be a representation of myself. Every character is similar to me in some sense, but at the same time, they’re nothing like me in another sense. I want my characters to act according to their own wills.”
“What do you mean when you say that you want them to act according to their own wills?”
“It’s exactly as I said. They view their worlds a certain way, influenced by their past experiences. They’re capable of making choices, judging what’s right and wrong, and doing things that I wouldn’t even dream of. Similarly, the things I would do without thinking twice don’t even cross their minds,” Juho said.
“Have you ever found yourself intruding in their territory during the creative process? You are the writer at the end of the day, so I can see that as a possibility.”
“Rarely. Although, there are times when I find mistakes during revision,” Juho said honestly, and exclaiming quietly, the interviewer shifted his position on his seat. Because they had been talking for a while, the young author and the interviewer were able to get to know each other a little better, which prevented the young author from coming across as conceited.
“I’d love to see you write one of these days,” the interviewer said with a quiet sigh. To which, the young author responded politely, “I hope so, too.” Then, the interviewer reverted back to a certain photo that had been previously mentioned.
“When discussing Yun Woo, the name Kelley Coin is bound to come up at some point. We can also see this author, who we’re all familiar with, in the photo with you. Did you ever discuss using that specific photo with him?”
“No. He also didn’t know which book the photo would be included in.”
“Did he have any complaints regarding the photo?”
“Nothing yet. He did come out better.”
“I wouldn’t even have dared to think about doing what you did if I were in your shoes. There was a reason you picked that photo in particular, right?”
“I get a lot of doubters in general. At the time, it just so happens that there was an impostor causing quite the ruckus. I expected people to be skeptical even if I were to reveal myself, so I thought about how to build trust when introducing a person for the first time.”
“And you thought Kelley Coin was just the person you were looking for?”
“That’s right. I needed a mediator who was known both by me and the readers.”
“A-ha,” the interviewer let out. When there was somebody trustworthy between two people who were meeting for the first time, a tacit trust tended to form. If one were to say, “I was brought here by so-and-so,” the other would most likely respond, “You must be that person. I heard a lot about you.”
“This was my so-called first encounter with my fans as well,” Juho said.
“I see. When was this photo taken?”
“Around the time of the ceremony for the Hugo Award, I believe.”
Then, the interviewer took interest in the young author’s relationship with Coin.
“He flew all the way to Korea to meet you, right?”
“How did you two become friends?”
“I ordered coffee for him.”
Having already known about Coin’s love of coffee, the interviewer laughed as if hearing a good joke.
“He actually didn’t recognize me at first. He was practically snarling when he told me that he was there to meet Yun Woo, while the person he was looking for was right before his eyes. He didn’t seem too fond of Yun Woo, though.”
“But you knew that he was Kelley Coin?”
“Yes, which was why I played it safe. But he found out eventually.”
“What did he say when he found out who you were?”
“Nothing special. He was pretty candid about it, saying that he had thought something was odd. He had a sharp eye, though. It wasn’t long before he pointed out my mistake and caught on to my identity.”
“Coin’s definitely known for his writing, but he also has quite the reputation for his temper. Were you afraid at all when you were with him?”
“Coin’s a pleasant person to talk to. He’s a master at cooking bacon, too,” Juho said with a shrug, and seeing as though the young author remained unfazed, the interviewer asked, “Then how do you see him as an author? You’ve read his books, right?”
“I sure have. He’s one of my favorite authors, and I was reminded why while I was translating one of his books.”
“‘Belongings,’ I believe? Which is one of the books that always comes up at least once when discussing Coin and his works. My understanding is that he chose you as the translator personally, am I right?”
“Yes. It kind of came out of nowhere, really.”
“But you managed to pull it off.”
At that, Juho chuckled awkwardly and said, “I know he comes across as rough around the edges and narrow-minded, but that’s not true at all. He always looks at the bigger picture before he digs into the details, which is exactly what enables him to reach the end of the path he has in mind, his goal.”
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