SootyOwl and ShawnSuh here. We are loving the response you guys are having for the novel and for the work we are doing translating it. We come bearing some news that some of you might not like. As you know, The Great Storyteller is a Korean novel. Under Webnovel and Munpia's partnership to bring Korean novels to a greater audience, Munpia requested that their novels go premium after 40 chapters in order to protect their copyrights and for their authors' benefit.
We hope the you guys stick with us as we watch Juho's future change together, but we understand if you are unable to.
Thank you for your understanding.
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
Chapter 39 - Pollen in the Air (2)
When Nabi read 'The Trace of a Bird' for the first time, she had already been arranging the introduction of the book. The book struck a fine balance between two contrasting subjects, growth and darkness. Along with its literary achievement, it appealed to the mass. Unfortunately, Korea was simply too small of a country for such a book. In order for the book to reach even more hearts, she felt that it needed to be distributed across the world.
Once she made up her mind, she immediately called Nam Kyung, who worked as an editor at Zelkova Publishing Company. She had worked with him in the past on several occasions. He was a skilled editor. He was quick and easy to communicate with. While waiting for him, she picked up a cup from the table to quench her thirst.
She set up a plan to meet with Nam Kyung at an Italian restaurant, where she arrived about twenty minutes earlier than the time they had agreed on. She checked the time. 'Any minute now.'
"Seventeen years old, huh."
She had never worked with an author that age.
'He's probably not used to such a professional environment, so I should be able to use that to my advantage,' she thought. She wanted to be Yun Woo's agent.
It was his first time at the restaurant. The neat interior gave off a clean impression. As he went into the reserved room with Nam Kyung, Juho asked, "Nabi Baek, right?"
"Yeah, do you have any questions?"
"Oh, no. Just wondering."
Nabi Baek was a familiar name. It was also a name he hadn't heard in a while. She had been the agent behind exporting 'The Trace of a Bird' to seven different countries. Other than that, she was good at what she did, but he didn't remember much of her. They had communicated almost entirely through email. Even that didn't last very long as Juho's career didn't survive past his debut title. It had been a bitter past. It was painful to think about the relationships that had been lost because of his limitations.
'I hope this lasts this time,' he thought as he kept himself from sighing.
"What's she like?"
Nam Kyung answered after a brief moment thinking, "She's good at what she does. She's also working with famous international authors. She's the type who likes to see things to the end once she sets her mind on something."
'Greedy.' When Juho heard Nam Kyung's description of her, he was able to think of her image immediately. If that greed worked to his advantage, then there was nothing to worry about. For an author to have someone eyeing for his work was something to be grateful for. He concentrated on thinking about what she looked like. When they had reached the door to the room, Nam Kyung said, "Well, see her for yourself."
He answered as he raised his head, "I'm looking forward to this."
'He really doesn't act his age,' Nam Kyung thought to himself.
The door opened. There was a table, some patterned wallpaper, and a beautiful woman inside. She was Nabi Baek. Dressed in professional attire, she gave off an intelligent impression. The fog was lifting. As if a black and white screen changed to color, her figure became vivid. 'It's been a while.'
"Hello. Nabi Baek, from Imperst Agency."
Imperst was one of the four major copyright agencies in the nation. It was a large-scale company, and it usually worked with big-name authors. Nabi's eyes sparkled as she saw an author, and Juho definitely felt that she was observing him. Maybe she was simply fascinated by him. Now, her attention was on his face. He then remembered that she didn't judge an author by his looks.
"Juho Woo. I'd like to be called by my real name."
"Sure thing, Mr. Woo."
He didn't stop her from addressing him with formality. In an occasion like that, he was aware that his age could work to his disadvantage. After a brief exchange of greetings, they ordered their meal. They each ordered pasta. The food looked incredibly delicate and appetizing, and it really felt like they were in a classy restaurant.
"You're quite handsome."
Juho looked at his food subconsciously because of her sudden compliment.
She continued as she emphasized, "It'd be a waste to keep yourself hidden."
"I guess you're not entirely wrong," Juho answered with a touch of humor. Nabi seemed entertained.
"I've been curious this entire time. I was deeply moved by your work."
"Thank you," he answered briefly. He felt her observing his responses.
"As I expected, you really are a genius."
If it were in the past, those words would've lifted up his spirit, but he couldn't keep himself from laughing. She misinterpreted his reaction and took the initiative to share her experience with his book, and he listened carefully.
"I appreciated how pure the story was. You did an incredible job describing fear in such a clear way."
That wasn't all.
"The subject of death has always been a popular choice among authors. Everyone wants to know more about death after all. Many writers have been inspired by it, but sadly, it's no longer fresh. Frankly, I've been tired of it for a while," she added.
Death, terror, anger. As deep and dark as these emotions were, they tended to leave a strong impression. When a drop of black ink got onto a white sheet of paper, all eyes would focus on it. In there, there was power and charm. However, without care and purpose, that dot was quickly reduced to a mere stain. The slightest movement would spread the ink throughout the paper and ruin it. It disrupted the white and became an obstruction to the eyes. Nabi looked at that boy in front of her and felt Yun Woo had drawn a perfect circle. It had been pure and controlled. She didn't spare any compliments. A child tended to be easily moved by an adult's compliments. However, Nabi's compliments were not merely empty words. She was meeting Yun Woo because she genuinely felt that his work was outstanding.
"Every character looks at the central subject of the book, the bird, from their own perspective. It's colorful, but balanced at the same time. In my opinion, your book has the power to move the hearts of those across the sea, regardless of country or ethnicity. A bird flies throughout the word after all," she said confidently.
'I'm certain that this book will do well overseas,' she thought as she awaited Juho's response.
However, his response was lukewarm, "Is that so?"
She was taken aback on the inside. He was much too calm for his age.
'Is he not interested?' To be certain of her observation, she continued, "I'm blown away by the fact that you were able to write such a book at your age."
She patiently waited for his answer. There was silence. After a brief thought, Juho started speaking again, "I think you've slightly overestimated my book."
She kept her lips shut. Nam Kyung gently shook his head as he watched.
'Is that really the response of a high school student?' he thought to himself as he was taken aback by Juho's attitude.
Nabi was getting flustered. She thought about what she had said so far, 'I've been pouring out compliments. Even an adult would have been at least somewhat excited.'
She was planning on getting him excited, but something was wrong. His response was way too dry. On top of that, he thought she was overestimating his book. It was completely unexpected.
'Maybe he's the shy type? No, his expression is too flat. It can't be that he's hiding his emotions either. Who is this kid?' she thought.
"They really know their pasta here," Juho said calmly as he brought the pasta to his mouth.
There was no other other sound in the room aside from Juho chewing and clattering his utensils. Nam Kyung chimed in to break the silence. If it lasted any longer, things would have been uncomfortable, "Hm, so how's work been for you lately? I've been hearing that Mr. Ahn's book is doing well in the American market."
"Ah, yes! He's been so cooperative to us, so it's been a breeze to work with him. He's so direct. It's almost scary!"
"Is he still insisting on wearing his sweatpants everywhere?"
"Yes. Aside from the first meeting, he immediately showed his true personality. Thanks to him, I don't have to dress up when we meet."
Thanks to Nam Kyung's peaceful conversation with Nabi, the tension eased in the room. Juho chimed in their conversation, "Mr. Ahn? As in Seo Joong Ahn?"
Nabi answered quickly, "Yes. He's very popular. He's one of the authors I work with."
Juho had taken an interest in their conversation about Seo Joong Ahn. Seo Joong was a friend and fellow author of Dong Gil Uhm, who Juho had recently met. Unlike Dong Gil, Seo Joong hadn't put out a single book in the last several years. Juho remembered Seo Kwang's recent lamentations.
Meanwhile, Nabi continued her story about Seo Joong, "I wasn't too surprised to hear from a publishing company in the US. I was that confident about his book. If anything, I didn't hear from them soon enough."
"Your confidence is admirable."
Her confidence really did shine. Juho had never met Seo Joong before, but he imagined that he must have seen the same confidence in her.
"The source of my confidence is in the author and his book."
Her ambition worked to the author's benefit, and Juho smiled faintly. He preferred her attitude at the moment over her compliments.
"Mr. Woo, I want to introduce your work to a bigger publishing market," Nabi got straight to the point.
It was the very purpose of that meeting. Yun Woo's book, 'The Trace of a Bird,' was to be distributed throughout the world. Juho saw the confidence in her expression as their eyes met. He had been thinking all along, 'I want to work with her again.'
"Of course," he answered.
At that, Nabi smiled brightly.
"Pleasure to be doing business with you."
"The pleasure's mine."
From then on, the three talked casually over their meal. After the main course, the dishes were taken away and replaced with a dessert made with fruit. While she looked at the plates, she started talking with a serious expression, "So, let me briefly explain the US import market. By default, the US is on the stingier side when it comes to importing books from overseas. Imports make up about 3 percent of the entire market. Meanwhile, the percentage literature makes up is even smaller. It barely reaches 1 percent. We have to fight our way into that market through that gap."
Literature in midst of international books, and literature among Korean Literature. In the middle of that, Yun Woo. It was quite a narrow door.
"It doesn't sound like it's going to be easy."
"Yes. As you said, it's not going to be, but it doesn't mean it's impossible. Look at Mr. Ahn for example. We've already experienced success."
"Can you tell me more about the process? How was Mr. Ahn's book able to make it into the American market?"
Using her personal experience, she explained the plans and process of entering into the international market in detail. Juho nodded and agreed with her from time to time. He listened to her intently.
"We'll have our most trusted translator working on your draft. Translation is one of the most important aspects when it comes to exporting a book."
"I see. Glad to be working with you."
Nabi smiled inwardly from the smooth conversation and quenched her thirst with a sip of water.
Chapter 39 - Pollen in the Air (2); The End