Big Life

Chapter 26: It Calls for More Celebration! (4)

Chapter 26: It Calls for More Celebration! (4)

“Welcome, Writer Ha Jae-Gun.”

Jung So-Mi greeted Ha Jae-Gun warmly. The writers present who heard his name watched curiously as they hadn’t really heard of his name before despite having been in the industry for a few years.

“Ha Jae-Gun? Do you know him?”

“No, it’s my first time hearing his name. Does he have a pen name?” Oh Myung-Hoon was having small talk with other fellow writers at the long table, and he squinted when he saw Ha Jae-Gun walking through the door.

A mocking look briefly appeared on his face.

‘He came after all.’ Oh Myung-Hoon knew that Ha Jae-Gun would show up, so he decided to make changes to his original plans and make time for this authors’ meet.

Oh Myung-Hoon was more than qualified to join the meet since he had a novel published through Star Books’ romance label.

“You must be hungry. You’re slightly late, so the only empty seat we have right now is the one in the corner there,” Jung So-Mi explained and pointed to a seat in the corner in embarrassment.

However, Ha Jae-Gun wasn’t even looking at the seat shown to him but at the tray in Jung So-Mi’s hands. There were servers around in the restaurant, but he was wondering why an editor like her was doing that there.

“Please take off your shoes and head on in.”

“Okay, thank you.” Ha Jae-Gun took off his shoes as instructed. He looked around for a while, trying to look for Kwon Tae-Won, but he couldn’t spot him at all.

‘He must be busy today as the editor-in-chief.’ Ha Jae-Gun decided not to look for him and headed to the seat in the corner. There weren’t any other writers paying attention to him since everyone was already engaged in their own conversations.

All except for one.

Oh Myung-Hoon’s attention was all on Ha Jae-Gun despite being engaged in small talk with the writers around him. However, he remained silent as his pride did not allow him to take the initiative and greet him.

“Excuse me,” Ha Jae-Gun said to the writer beside him. The writer was a tanned man with a small figure He seemed to be in his early thirties and was giving off a melancholic feeling. “May I sit here?”

Ah, sure. Please take a seat; please sit,” the man shifted to make some space for Ha Jae-Gun. Ha Jae-Gun bowed politely and took the seat.

“You… are a writer, right?” the man asked cautiously.

Ha Jae-Gun nodded in response and smiled. “Haha, yes. That’s right. But I’m not yet a proper—”

Ha Jae-Gun caught himself and stopped talking. He then picked up a piece of pancake with his chopsticks.

He had never been the type to take the initiative to talk to others, so he would usually wait for the other party to start a conversation.

He had always been the type of person who would try to make the other party comfortable to the extent that they would be able to speak freely.

‘I don’t know who they are and what they have written.’

Ha Jae-Gun recalled his past self.

Back then, it had always been painful for him to talk about what he had written with other people because he was still an obscure writer. Therefore, Ha Jae-Gun’s action of stopping himself just now was a form of consideration from his side.

“Wow, this is delicious,” Ha Jae-Gun mumbled as he munched on the pancakes. The man beside him laughed and carried some side dishes from the other side of the table over to Ha Jae-Gun.

“Try this too. I’m not sure what vegetable this is, but this is delicious as well.”

“Thank you for looking out for me. I’ll definitely enjoy this.”

“Do you drink soju?”

Ah, yes. I’ll have some. Sorry, I should have poured you a glass first. Please hand me the bottle.”

“It’s alright, I’ll pour you a glass first.” The two men shared a drink.

The clear and cold soju flowed down Ha Jae-Gun’s esophagus. He then drew in a deep breath afterward. Was it because things had been going well lately for him that it had been a long time since food tasted so delicious to him?

“Is this your first time here?” asked the man while holding the bottle of soju. He offered to pour Ha Jae-Gun another glass.

Ha Jae-Gun received the drink politely with both hands and replied, “I’ve been here for a long time.”

“I see. This is actually my first time. You said that you have been here for a long time, so it must have been quite a while since you made your debut, right?”

Mm, yes. That’s right.”

Ha Jae-Gun clinked glasses with the man once more and downed another shot. He could feel his body warming up. It could be due to the two glasses of alcohol on an almost empty stomach.

Their conversation briefly paused. As they drank a few more glasses, the surrounding restaurant got rowdier.

Ah, I forgot to introduce myself. I’m Kang Min-Ho.” The man finally decided to introduce himself amidst the buzz.

Ha Jae-Gun straightened his back and replied, “I apologize for my late introduction as well. My name is Ha Jae-Gun.”

“I see. Do you use a pen name?” Kang Min-Ho asked as they shook hands.

Ha Jae-Gun smiled in embarrassment and nodded in response.

Kang Min-Ho then continued with a follow-up question, “Oh… I just use my real name for my works.”

Ah, I see.” A perplexed look flashed across Ha Jae-Gun’s face. He couldn’t remember hearing the name Kang Min-Ho before.

Kang Min-Ho seemed to have read his thoughts and waved his hands as if signaling that it was fine. “It’s alright. My book got terminated early at six volumes, so not many people know about it. That was my only work as well.”

“Excuse me, but may I know what’s the title of your work?”

“I wrote a fantasy novel called Great Demon Lord of the Other World…” Kang Min-Ho trailed off, losing his confidence. He was extremely embarrassed, believing that even Ha Jae-Gun wouldn’t possibly know about his novel.

However, Ha Jae-Gun looked at Kang Min-Ho with a surprised expression. “Great Demon Lord of the Other World? Isn’t that about a demon lord from a fantasy world coming into the modern era and then working part-time at a convenience store?”

”I remember that he managed to save enough money to open a construction company later.”

“Y-you’ve read it?”

“Of course. I really enjoyed it. It was interesting to see the struggles of the demon lord who once dominated his previous fantasy world upon arriving in modern-day Korea without being able to speak a lick of Korean in Korea.” In fact, Ha Jae-Gun had read a majority of the long-form novels published by Star Books.

Reading other books was a great way to find the current trend, and he could also learn from his fellow writers. He had forgotten the name Kang Min-Ho, but he could still clearly remember the title of Kang Min-Ho’s book.

“Oh my, this is embarrassing. Please have this drink.”

Kang Min-Ho felt overwhelmed and hurriedly poured Ha Jae-Gun a glass of soju. Ha Jae-Gun accepted it and poured a glass in return as well.

“What is your pen name, Writer Ha?”

Ah, it’s Poongchun-Yoo.”

When Ha Jae-Gun’s answer emerged from his mouth, there was a brief silence as everyone turned to look at Ha Jae-Gun and Kang Min-Ho.

“Poongchun-Yoo…? That same author who wrote the Records series?” Kang Min-Ho repeated with a bewildered look.

“Yes, that’s right.”

When Ha Jae-Gun confirmed it, a few of the writers approached them with alcohol bottles in their hands, trying to offer him drinks. It was a pretty overwhelming and scary scene, considering how quickly their attitudes changed.

“You’re Writer Poongchun-Yoo? It’s nice to meet you. My pen name is Mister H.”

Ah, I see. You’re the author of the soccer novel Genie Scouter? I really had fun reading your book.”

“Please accept a shot from me, too. My pen name is Runaway Soldier…”

Ah, you wrote Ground Zero, right? Both of you wrote great sports fantasy novels. I’ve tried to write in that genre as well, but it’s pretty difficult to do without any sports background or enough knowledge in the field. It’s nice to meet both of you here.”

The atmosphere in that part of the restaurant changed in an instant. An intangible, powerful energy landed on Ha Jae-Gun. The writers of fantasy novels started approaching Ha Jae-Gun and exchanged greetings with him.

“The Records series was really entertaining. I thought you’d be older since it has been a while since your debut, so I’m surprised to see that you’re really young.”

“As a writer, I think your books are really entertaining as well. Writer Poongchun-Yoo, what is your approach when writing your novels? Do you decide the ending in advance?”

Ah, my approach? Well…”

Ha Jae-Gun started breaking out into a cold sweat as he answered each and every one of the questions thrown at him. He was grateful and happy, but he was panicking at the same time. Truthfully speaking, he had never expected that the authors here would pay him so much attention.

“Why is everyone gathered around that author? What are his works?” asked one of the female writers sitting opposite Ha Jae-Gun’s table.

By now, even Oh Myung-Hoon and the other female writers nearby were gaining interest in the buzz around Ha Jae-Gun. Oh Myung-Hoon was annoyed when he was cut off mid-way through their conversation while he was proudly sharing about his techniques for writing novels.

“Writer Lee Young-Ah, where was I?” Oh Myung-Hoon asked while concealing his displeasure.

The female writer Lee Young-Ah was staring at Ha Jae-Gun. She turned around with her cheeks visibly red. She looked at Oh Myung-Hoon curiously and asked, “What? Ah… Right? Where were we? I can’t remember it.”

She was obviously not paying much attention to Oh Myung-Hoon because it was clear that she was already paying attention to Ha Jae-Gun.

A tendon on Oh Myung-Hoon’s forehead twitched visibly at the sight of that. He tried to keep himself composed, but he could still explode right there and then.

Two female writers at his table stood up.

“Sorry, but I’ll just go over for a while. I’m actually getting interested in fantasy novels.”

“Me, too, I want to write a romance novel with fantasy elements mixed in it, so I’m going to get some advice.”

Haha, sure. Please go ahead.” Oh Myung-Hoon said while suppressing his boiling fury. He sent the girls away with a smile. While no one was watching him, he took the chance to down an entire shot of soju. It didn’t seem like having a couple more glasses would make him drunk because he was on the verge of exploding.

‘Wow, Writer Ha is really popular.’

Jung So-Mi smiled as she watched Ha Jae-Gun getting surrounded by the writers from afar. She felt incredibly proud to see the writer she had been working with being surrounded by so many people asking for his advice.

“Ms. Jung So-Mi, why are you standing here in a daze? The writers have run out of alcohol,” Deputy Ko nagged from behind.

Ah, I’m sorry. I’ll bring more over now.” Jung So-Mi was taken aback, and she quickly headed to the fridge. She had to resort to taking the role of a server because the other employees were on annual leave.

“What are you doing?” Just as she opened the door to the fridge, another voice rang from behind her. She couldn’t hear the other party clearly due to the noisy surroundings.

“What are you doing there?” Jung So-Mi finally turned around, and her eyes widened when she saw the owner of the voice.

“W-writer Ha?”

Ha Jae-Gun was standing there with a stiff look. Jung So-Mi was surprised to see Ha Jae-Gun standing guard behind her when she was sure that the former had been surrounded by the other writers just a few moments ago.

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