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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
There was desperation in Pyung Jin’s voice. Although he clearly wanted something from Juho, the young author didn’t have anything to offer.
“I understand… but I really wrote that story just because I felt like it.”
“What made you want to write a story like that?”
“Again, I just felt like it.”
“OK, it seems like we’re not on the same page here,” Pyung Jin said, his eyes glaring fiercely at the young author. At which point, the host stepped in to diffuse the tension.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you so worked up, Mr. Lee. Haha!” the host said, looking like he was enjoying the sudden change of pace. However, they were in a taping session for a show that was going to be aired in the near future. Seeing as though Yun Woo wasn’t giving any information, the host felt the need to push forward. The critic’s question toward the young author was better suited for an informal occasion.
“In that case, we can assume that you were under a lot of pressure when you were writing that story, am I right?” the host asked, changing the subject subtly and skillfully, which Juho welcomed.
“Right. The other presenting authors had done a remarkable job with their presentations, so I was very nervous. If I hadn’t been writing on that particular stage for that particular event, I think the ending to that story would’ve looked a lot different.”
The host smiled as Juho finished speaking. Meanwhile, Pyung Jin seemed quite anxious, as if there was more he wanted to talk about with Yun Woo. However, upon seeing the cameras around them, he collected himself.
“Now then, let’s talk about ‘Alexandria.’ A very different story from the one you presented onstage, might I add,” the host said, and Sung Pil nodded in agreement. Then, the host said to the critic, “Personally, I thought this book was particularly different from most of Mr. Woo’s other books.”
“Especially the overall humorous atmosphere, which is quite removed from Mr. Woo’s usual tendency to write pieces that are more serious and mature. ‘Trace of a Bird’ is often considered to be the purest of Mr. Woo’s books, but that wasn’t quite like ‘Alexandria,’ either. The children within the book are pure and innocent when it comes to their interaction with Alexandria, but outside of that interaction, they’re anything but, which is precisely why we find ‘Alexandria’ to be so different and original,” the critic said.
“What inspired you to go outside the box, Mr. Woo?”
“It’s just part of my work. Writing a new piece often means having to try new things. This time, I wanted to try to come up with a story that took place within a school,” Juho replied to the host.
After which, Pyung Jin followed up with a question, asking, “Alexandria is by far, the most prominent change of this book, who is also the readers’ most beloved character. How did you come to think of a character like Alexandria? Was there some sort of motive behind it?”
Remembering he couldn’t say that the character was based on himself, Juho let out a small sigh and replied, “No. I thought of Alexandria as I was eating with other fellow authors. I felt that she was the character with whom I would be able to depict the subject most effectively.”
At that moment, Sung Pil raised his hand, and Juho stared at him caught off guard by his unexpected behavior. As the host gave him a chance to speak, the rookie author said, “I think the character is very reminiscent of Yun Woo.”
“What?” Juho asked, but Sung Pil didn’t give him an answer. At which point, the critic took the opportunity to chime in, his tie moving about in a threatening manner.
“I find that very interesting, Sung Pil. You see, I thought just the opposite. I thought Alexandria was the mirror image of its creator in many ways.”
“Is that so? Please, do tell us more,” the host said, giving the floor to Pyung Jin. At which point, the critic, being the experienced book critic that he was, said, “When we think of the name Yun Woo, the first adjective that comes to mind is ‘young.’ On the contrary, Alexandria is the oldest person in her school. Although she moves forward in life one step at a time, Mr. Woo rose to the top almost in the blink of an eye, rising to stardom with his debut title and receiving international recognition for his first attempt at a fantasy novel.”
Nobody had an opposing argument to the critic emphasizing the rate at which the young author’s life and career had progressed.
“What do you think, Sung Pil? What’s your take on the subject matter?” the host asked, looking at him.
“Slow wasn’t one of the words that came to my mind as I was reading the book. Rather…”
“I got a sense of abundance. Her age, her memories, her experience.”
At that, a subtle response came from the audience.
“Not only did she know a lot, but there was just as much she didn’t know. There were plenty of things she struggled with and needed to adapt to. On top of that, she also had plenty of ambition and determination.”
That time, the audience responded more noticeably to the author, as if identifying with his statement.
“I felt similarly when I saw Yun Woo. He writes an incredible amount. When we were in high school, something about Juho, in this case, Yun Woo, made me feel like we weren’t the same age. He’d almost look better standing behind the podium than sitting at a desk.”
“Does that mean he was mature?”
“No, not exactly,” Sung Pil said, turning toward Juho. Then, he started sharing the thoughts he had been having about his friend leading up to that point, saying, “He’s just inherently different from me. Like now. He’s the same, whether or not he’s surrounded by cameras. He’s always calm and unfazed. Whenever there’s trouble, he’s often doing all the damage control.”
Then, looking up into the air, he added, “If I were Yun Woo, I would’ve gone around telling people who I was. Think about it. It’s a major bragging right, but I also don’t have the patience to keep it to myself. Besides, it makes it even more tempting when all of your friends are starting to express interest in writing. But, Yun Woo wasn’t like that. He didn’t say a word about his identity. I haven’t seen him get mad to this day. On the other hand, I couldn’t stand that I was getting insulted by people who hardly knew me. This friend of mine really knows how to take a beating, no matter how bad or insulting it gets, all without saying a word. At the same time, I don’t think he’s holding it in either, which makes him even more mysterious. He’s well off, yet, he’s never extravagant. He’s the most impulsive in the most crucial, urgent moments. He gives up on an award after giving it his best in a contest and comes up with an alternate writing style just to avoid people finding out who he is. All that to say, he’s quite the oddball.”
As the host repeatedly asked the rookie author questions, Juho noticed that he was dragging the subject on. He had to be milking it for as much information on Yun Woo as possible.
“So, what are some things that you consider as his flaws?” the host asked in a mischievous tone. At which, Sung Pil replied in a calm tone of voice, “Everything I’ve said up to this point.”
The audience burst into laughter.
“Is that true?” the host asked, looking at Juho.
“I guess that’s how he sees me,” the young author said evasively.
“Bom agrees with me.”
“Glad to hear that you two have gotten closer,” Juho said. Bom and Sung Pil had to have talked about him at some point.
“Now, it’s getting personal!” Pyung Jin said with a satisfied smile, and applause came from the audience. Although Juho wasn’t sure why they were applauding, the audience seemed to be welcoming something. Thankfully, Sung Pil didn’t know any sensitive information about Juho. However, the young author wasn’t used to another person talking about him. As he scratched his cheek, feeling somewhat awkward, the host asked, “You go over to Mr. Woo’s house from time to time, don’t you?
Sung Pil replied, “Yes.”
“Do you ever come across a manuscript for a novel that hasn’t been released yet?”
“No, that’s never happened.”
“Do you two talk about each other’s writing often?”
“Hm… I’m not sure,” Sung Pil said, dragging on and looking toward Juho. At which point, the young author took over and said, “I feel like we used to talk about my writing a lot more before he knew I was Yun Woo.”
“Ah, that makes sense. There had to have been times when he talked openly about your books in front of you, then.
“Right. We ran into each other at a bookstore once while he was buying a Yun Woo book. That was when ‘Sound of Wailing’ had just come out.” Pyung Jin seemed quite intrigued. After a brief summary of the situation, Juho kept on, “And he started reading in front of me. I felt kind of uncomfortable, so I tried to give him subtle cues to stop reading, but he just kept going.”
“It was Yun Woo’s new book. How could I not?” Sung Pil interjected.
“So, did he have anything bad to say about the book?”
“I highly doubt that. There aren’t enough good things to say about ‘Sound of Wailing,'” Pyung Jin said quietly.
“If anything, Juho was the harshest to himself, more than anybody,” Sung Pil said, reminiscing to that time. Of course, being the sharp person that he was, Pyung Jin wasn’t going to let that slide.
“Was he now?” he asked.
“Yes. Back then, I just thought he really didn’t like Yun Woo. Unlike with other authors, he became really harsh when it came to Yun Woo. Now that I think about it, maybe he had been preparing for that stage all along.”
“Mr. Woo has always been modest,” the host said and since he couldn’t deny it completely, Juho smiled awkwardly. The young author was always thinking about his failure. At that moment, he felt a piercing gaze from the critic, glaring intently at him as if observing him. Upon glancing over at him briefly, Juho looked away. Meanwhile, considering the time and the situation, the host moved on to the next segment of the show.
“Now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for is finally here! The Q&A!”
At that, the audience erupted into cheers and applause. Judging from the questionnaire in the hands of every member of the audience, it was clear that they had a lot of questions.
Each member of the audience had been given a number prior to the taping, and the host was to pick a number at random, giving the respective person the chance to speak.
“Could we get the microphone to the gentleman over there?” the host said, and a microphone was given to a certain member of the audience. After briefly introducing himself, the audience member went straight to the question.
“So, I was at the exhibition event not too long ago and watched the presentation, and I was quite moved by Mr. Woo’s writing process. I was just blown away by his speed and the precision in his writing.”
“Ah, I can only imagine. So, what kind of question do you have for Mr. Woo today?”
“I was wondering if you’ve ever found yourself getting distressed or upset in any way while writing such a tragic story like that. That story was actually quite frightening, even for the audience.”
“That’s a good question,” the critic murmured. Upon finishing the question, the audience member put the microphone down, and the host repeated a short summary of his question back to him, which was, ‘Does writing a self-deprecating story like that have an emotional effect on the author?’ After some contemplation, the young author replied, “If I were to get straight to the point, no, I didn’t mind one bit. I didn’t feel upset or bothered in any way.”
That time, the host asked a question, “Even if it was about you?”
“It wasn’t about me, actually. It just so happened that the protagonist had the same name as me. It’d be slightly far-fetched to say that I was depicting myself in that story. Me being here, onset, today is the proof of that,” Juho replied, shaking his head.
“But don’t you get anxious still? Insecure that what happened in the story might happen to you in real life?”
“Sure. That’s one way of putting it, but it’s hardly any different from what I feel while reading a novel with a tragic ending. A dystopian novel, for example.”
Although the story had been born from a place of anxiety, his writing was proof that he had digested his emotions. At the same time, it was also both depiction and expression. As Juho clarified, the host asked no further about it.
“OK. Let’s move on. Next person,” the host said, picking another number at random. That time, the audience member who rose from the seat was a middle-aged woman, who kept looking to her side as if she had come with her daughter.
“So, I read ‘Alexandria’ fairly recently. It was the first book I’ve read in thirty years, but I just couldn’t put it down. Before I knew it, I ended up reading all of your books, Mr. Woo.”
“Wow! That’s dedication! So, what did you want to know about Mr. Woo, ma’am? You have the chance to ask the question that’s been burning in your mind! Ask away!”
At that, the audience member asked in a serious tone, “I wanted to know what the characters’ lives would look like after the story.”
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