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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
“I gotta say, you look slightly different from the pictures or the videos.”
“Is that so?”
“Very much so. Cameras wouldn’t bother to focus on the calluses on your hands,” Molley said, looking at the hand he had shaken just a moment ago, which had a particularly rough spot on the middle finger.
“What do you think? Are you enjoying yourself, Mr. Woo?”
“Knowing that there are this many books in this world really puts me in good spirits.”
“It’s a festival if you will.”
Just as Molley had said, the book fair was a festival for book lovers. There was nothing at the fair that exuded more presence than books, and the crowd gathering around them was proof of that.
“This takes me back to our first meeting,” Molley said, brushing his hand under his chin, looking as though reminiscing to the past, and added, “I was very taken aback when I read ‘Trace of a Bird’ for the first time. And what I read had been a sample! I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that it was the fruit of your talent. The next book carried an entirely different feel and structure from that of its predecessor. I remember being worried and hopeful all at the same time when it came out sooner than I had expected. Let me tell you, Mr. Woo. Working with your books is a joy of mine.”
He seemed genuine, and Juho found his compliments quite pleasant.
“I was at the award ceremonies for both the Nebula and the Hugo. Part of me was really hoping that I could meet you there. Speaking of which, I believe congratulations are in order.”
It was a congratulation that had come a long way around the world. As Juho responded with an awkward nod, the staff member of the Chinese booth said, “There are some rumors circulating about a sequel to one of your books.”
“You mean, ‘Language of God?'”
“Yes. What’s your standpoint, Mr. Woo? Is it happening?”
Juho covered his mouth with his hand. It was far too early to say anything. Catching on to the young author’s gesture, the staff member let up almost immediately.
“The entire world knows how good you are at keeping secrets. I suppose I’ll just have to hope that it turns out the way I hope it does.”
“What about a movie? Are you still against it?”
At that moment, an unfamiliar voice called to the young author, saying, “Hello, Mr. Woo.” When Juho turned around, he saw a person who he had never met before. Recognizing the person immediately, Nabi introduced him to the young author, “Mr. Woo, this is the editor in charge of your books in Japan.”
Starting with the Japanese editor, more and more people started talking to Juho, including industry buyers and agents from all across the world, naturally creating a space for those people to interact with each other. Nabi was mostly talking to people from the US, the UK, and Germany.
“I’ve been looking forward to this since the meeting with Nabi. I was told that Mr. Woo would be at the fair today.”
“Where was the meeting?”
“Oh! I saw that director around that area. It completely caught me off guard.”
“Has Mr. Woo written a new book?”
“Any good catches? The how-to books seem quite promising this year.”
“The US hasn’t been very active as of late.”
“There’s Coin at least, so that’s something.”
A group of twenty or so people were each talking about their own subjects seemlessly.
“You had no idea of how crazy things would get when Mr. Woo revealed himself.”
Before long, the subject moved on to the young author’s first profile picture. Meanwhile, Molley described the scene at a bookstore on the release day of the young author’s book. No matter where in the world, it seemed like things had looked more or less the same as long as there was a bookstore around.
“I was more taken aback by Coin in that picture,” one of the Chinese officials said.
“Whenever I read their books back to back, I find myself getting even more confused than I was before I started reading. I just don’t understand how the two grew close.”
“They’re just the opposite of each other.”
“And reading their books only makes it even more puzzling.”
“Maybe it has something to do with both of them being prolific writers?”
“Personally, I find myself leaning toward Mr. Woo’s writing style.”
At that moment, one of the people there looked around in an exaggerated manner and said, “Just to make sure Coin wasn’t around.”
After chuckling awkwardly, Juho subtly changed the subject. As they conversed, Juho found himself losing track of time. At which point, Nabi said to him quietly, “We better get to Mr. Coin’s lecture. It’s almost time.”
Juho was quite looking forward to that segment of the fair. Catching on to where the young author was headed, the others said, “Well, I hate to say goodbye, but I better look around some more.”
“The author I’m working with is having a conference today.”
“We don’t wanna call it a night just yet, so why don’t we all meet again later outside the fair? I know a place.”
Everyone seemed to already be aware that Juho was planning on spending his time during his stay in Germany unhurried. With the exception of those who had other matters to attend to, the only people left who were going to Coin’s lecture were Nabi, Molley, the Chinese official, and the Japanese editor. With that, the five, including the young author, walked out of the Asian section.
“Wow, it’s packed.”
Coin’s segment appeared to be quite popular. By the time Juho arrived, Coin was already onstage, in the middle of a Q&A session. Standing in front of a red background, the color suited him quite well. Meanwhile, since all the seats were filled up, Juho stood behind the backmost seat. Thankfully, Coin was still plenty visible from where Juho was because of the monitors set up in between the seats. There were cameras aimed toward the author onstage, and there were dozens of monitors showing what the camera was capturing in real time. The scale was impressive. Looking at Coin in the monitors, he seemed somewhat bored despite the sheer number of people he was surrounded by.
“I write all sorts of things. Not only have I been part of writing for a movie and a show, but I’ve also written a number of nonfiction and travel books. I’ve written for science and cooking magazines too, actually. In other words, I don’t discriminate the opportunities that come my way.”
The host, who was wearing a suit that looked like it had come straight out of an eighties’ Hollywood movie and a pair of thick, horn-rimmed glasses, looked intently at the author until he had finished. His belt was looking quite fragile from his belly bulging out.
“Why is that?”
“To me, that’s the ideal image of an author.”
Juho looked at the audience, whose members were sitting on square chairs around the author onstage. It felt like he had walked into a bubble. Although the busyness of the fair was only a step away, the crowd was listening intently to the author onstage.
“No author in this world decides that they only wanna focus on one subject. Sure, they look at, feel, observe, and study it, but it’s never limited to one particular thing. Although, there might be scientists who approach research in that manner, an author has to be flexible.”
“But aren’t there tons of authors who prefer to focus on a single subject?”
At that, Coin’s brow furrowed, disgruntled that his point wasn’t getting across. He wasn’t afraid to express himself despite being in front of an audience.
“I’m not saying that an author shouldn’t write the same thing twice. For example, let’s say an author decides to use the same characters, settings, and values on another piece of writing,” Coin said, speaking openly on his thoughts. Although there was aggression in his tone, it wasn’t all that different from the usual tone in which he spoke. While some took pictures of him with their phones, others jotted down notes.
“In that case, what about an author’s individuality? Authors tend to be greedy when it comes to things that set them apart. For example, if I were to read one of your books without being told who it had been written by, I’d still know that it was your book. But according to your logic, wouldn’t an author’s pursuit of flexibility mean giving up their freedom in some sense?”
“That’s right. At the end of the day, I am me. It doesn’t matter how hard I try to change that. I don’t have to worry about my past vanishing into thin air or my potential future becoming another person’s. It’s a limit in some sense, but there are also endless possibilities.”
Juho glanced at the audience to either side. They were all listening intently to Coin.
“If one finds that they’re no longer themselves at the end of their pursuit of freedom, then what’s the point of that pursuit? Who would want that?”
Pulling up his glasses, the host in the eighties-style suit asked, “In that case, what’s your take on Yun Woo?”
“Oh!” Molley let out quietly, looking toward the young author and locking eyes with him.
“I didn’t see that coming,” Juho whispered.
“Your name tends to come up quite often, especially when it comes to a topic like this,” the Japanese editor whispered, and the Chinese official nodded in agreement. Juho looked intently at Coin on the screen.
“Yes. One of the things he’s known for is having multiple writing styles. It’s fascinating, really. I believe there’s even research happening as we speak on it. What are your thoughts, Mr. Coin? Do you think Yun Woo would be the freest author you know?”
Freest. Juho denied it internally. If anything, his writing styles held him back. They were shackles on both of his feet.
“I don’t know. His writing is ever changing. It’s almost as if a child I saw one day became an adult the next, only to become a child all over again the following day,” Coin said.
“His writing is unbelievable. He’s extremely well-trained for his age. He leaves no room for his readers to think that he could grow and learn from his mistakes. I mean, how many teenagers do you know who are capable of something like that? If he really did have a split personality, his alternate self would probably be my age. At which point, the world would laugh at him for not acting his age when he fell on his face,” the host said. Meanwhile, Coin was resting his face on his chin. Although it was incredibly rude for him to do so, nobody pointed it out.
“I suppose one could identify him as being sinful.”
“Sinful, you say?”
“Yes. Reversing the flow of this world just so he can move forward on his own. It’s inexcusable, really… but I suppose I’m already judging him by a certain standard the moment I deem him sinful. Actually, the fact that we’re even talking about him and judging him already shows how far removed we are from freedom.”
“I’d love to have that kind of power,” Juho said, lifting his hat up slightly and brushing his hair back with his hand. At that, a subtle smile appeared on Nabi’s face. Meanwhile, Coin seemed to be looking for somebody in the audience. He had to be looking for the young author.
“I just got a call from Isabella. What do you wanna do, Mr. Woo? Would you like to stick around a little longer?”
“Yes, if that’s OK. I’ll go see her once this is over,” Juho said, nodding at Nabi.
“All right, then. If you’ll excuse me, Mr. Woo.”
After following her with his eyes for a brief moment, Juho redirected his attention to the stage. At that moment…
Juho noticed something out of place. The audience was all listening to Coin intently and earnestly. Whether they were sitting or standing, there was a sense of dignity in their quiet behavior. However, there was one person who stood out. He was paying no attention to the author onstage.
He was particularly tall. While everyone concentrated intensely on the author, the man was looking around as if he had lost something. He wasn’t taking pictures with his phone, either. He seemed to have no interest in Coin whatsoever. In that case, why was he there? Juho became puzzled by the man’s presence and his odd behavior.
“If you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you,” Coin said in a voice sounding much lower and heavier than usual.
It was a quote from a philosophy book written by Friedrich Nietzsche, which stated that one needed to think beyond what was good or evil. As Juho turned his head to look to the monitor, he noticed a pair of blue eyes looking at him.
The man had also recognized the young author from the distance. The bright stage light reflected from the man’s eyes, accentuating the blue in his eyes even further. Despite the distance between them, there was something about his appearance that stuck out to the young author. While Juho kept his eyes on the man from the corner of his eyes, he noticed that the man’s expression started to change. His eyes and mouth were started to widen, and soon, his hand was on his cheek. At that moment, the man started cheering out loud as if he had finally found that something or that someone he had been looking for, which caught Juho off guard.
“I think he saw you, Mr. Woo,” Molley said to the young author.
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