Chapter 95: Keep Barking At It (11)
“It’s been decided that AppleT’s Chae-Rin will be part of the panel.”
Ha Jae-Gun wiped his wet lips.
He stared incredulously at Oh Myung-Suk.
“They must have thought it was appropriate to get her on the show. After all, she had mentioned a few of your novels on her own social media and even came to get your autograph from you personally. On top of that, her reputation as a literature-loving idol is exceptionally strong as well. They must have thought that getting her on board would bring about lots of discussions.”
Ha Jae-Gun tilted his head, unable to understand Oh Myung-Suk’s explanation.
Even if Chae-Rin liked literature, she was still a member of a popular idol group. There were heaps of TV programs that she could participate in to increase her popularity, so why would she choose to appear in an educational program?
Plus, the viewership of A Writer’s Study was not that great. To be honest, Ha Jae-Gun couldn’t help but feel that something was off.
Oh Myung-Suk continued. “I’m not sure who the writer was, but there was another time when a member of Girl’s Era became a panelist.”
“Wouldn’t it be natural for her to agree to go on the show when she likes your novels? Since she had recommended your novels and even went to get your autograph.”
Just then, a staff member appeared from the other side of the building and said, “Mr. Ha, we’re about to resume recording.”
“Yes, I’ll be there soon.”
The recording resumed immediately upon Ha Jae-Gun’s return.
By the time they were done with the recording, the sky was already dyed a brilliant orange. Ha Jae-Gun sighed as he wiped the sweat off of his forehead.
“You’ve worked hard, Mr. Ha. This is the script for the studio recording.”
“Thank you.” Ha Jae-Gun accepted the thick file of paper from the staffer.
“Please prepare to recommend a novel from another writer, which is to be brought up at the end of the segment. It doesn’t matter if it’s your favorite novel or a novel that you’ve found impressive recently.”
“Okay, I’ll make sure to prepare one.”
The staff then hurried to clear the mess in Ha Jae-Gun’s apartment. Park Hye-Sang—who was talking with the producer a distance away—stole glances at Ha Jae-Gun.
When their eyes met, Park Hye-Sang smiled sheepishly and bowed lightly.
“The place got quiet relatively quickly.” Oh Myung-Suk started.
The staffers had already departed.
“What are your plans now, Mr. Ha?”
“I’ll be heading to the office in Bucheon. I’ll have to finish the new fantasy novel I’m currently writing.”
Oh Myung-Suk nodded in surprise and admiration.
Ha Jae-Gun hesitated at Oh Myung-Suk’s reaction. By now, Ha Jae-Gun had learned more about Oh Myung-Suk, and as a writer, he had a question for him.
However, Oh Myung-Suk was a step quicker.
“I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned this to you in passing before. You’re an incredible writer, Mr. Ha. It’s not easy for anyone to be able to grasp both the exciting fantasy world and the literary world so well.”
“Do you like fantasy novels, too?”
Oh Myung-Suk shrugged as if Ha Jae-Gun had asked a weird question.
“Well, it’s just a genre, so how could I like or dislike any genre? Of course, I can always point out the good and bad areas of each novel, but just because they’re fantasy novels doesn’t mean that I should be narrow-minded and ignore the entire genre altogether.”
“It’s great to hear that from you.”
“We should agree in different aspects and not fight over which is superior to the other. In fact, I personally enjoy martial art novels a lot.”
Oh Myung-Suk looked up to the sky and laughed out loud. “Did you really think that I’ll only read literary novels? I love Writer Yong Dae-Won’s novels. Plus, the rate of his serialization had increased as well.”
Oh Myung-Suk then winked at Ha Jae-Gun.
“I enjoyed Writer Poongchun-Yoo’s Records of the Murim Master a lot. I even bought the book and want to get your autograph on it later as well. You are close to him, right? Please help me get his autograph.” Oh Myung-Suk teased.
Ha Jae-Gun looked down at his feet and laughed. He felt weird to have discovered a new side to Oh Myung-Suk, but he also felt that they had grown closer together.
“Oh, right, I should take my leave now. I’m afraid I’ll take up more of your time. I’ll see you at the broadcasting station next time.”
“Please drive safely.”
After sending Oh Myung-Suk away, Ha Jae-Gun left for the office in Bucheon with Rika.
Kang Min-Ho was struggling at his desk as Demon Lord Returns was almost coming to an end. His level of concentration was so high that he didn’t even realize Ha Jae-Gun had arrived.
Ha Jae-Gun quietly went to his desk, not wanting to disturb him. It was only when Rika appeared in the corner of his eyes that Kang Min-Ho finally looked up.
“When did you arrive, Writer Ha?!”
“Just a while ago. You were very focused on your novel. Do you not have any stockpile?”
“No, it’s just strange that things are coming to me smoother as I reach the end of the novel. I’m planning on completing it as soon as possible and start working on my next novel.”
“It’s all thanks to you, Writer Ha.”
“Where is Writer Eun-Young?”
“She went out to buy side dishes. She said Naughty Roommate was performing well, and since both Writer Ha and President Kwon were coming, she wanted to treat everyone to a good dinner.”
Kang Min-Ho and Ha Jae-Gun enjoyed a cuppa while talking to each other.
Beep! Beep! Beep!
The door lock chime interrupted them, and the door opened shortly.
Kwon Tae-Won’s face appeared from behind the door.
Ha Jae-Gun smiled and greeted him. “Why do you look so happy? You seem to have struck the lottery.”
“Yes, I struck the lottery…”
“We have a very pretty, cute, and diligent new employee. I brought her along with me, can I introduce them to all of you?”
Ha Jae-Gun was stunned.
Kang Min-Ho quickly looked at the mirror and started tidying up his messy hair.
Kwon Tae-Won opened the door wide, revealing the new employee standing at the door.
“Ms. So-Mi…?!” Ha Jae-Gun blurted out in surprise.
The new employee was none other than Jung So-Mi. Like any other day, Jung So-Mi was wearing a checkered top, jeans and sneakers, and a backpack. She smiled shyly at them.
“Hello, I’m Deputy Jung So-Mi from Laugh Books. I’m looking forward to working with you two,” Jung So-Mi introduced herself with vigor and bowed at a deep ninety-degree angle.
She turned to look at the stunned Ha Jae-Gun and chuckled. “I got promoted to deputy, hehe.”
“Did you… resign from Star Books?”
Jung So-Mi nodded.
There was no further explanation from Kwon Tae-Won either. Sensing that the silence meant that he would hear more from either of them in the future, Ha Jae-Gun decided not to probe any further.
“Oh my, Ms. So-Mi is here too?” Jang Eun-Young asked in surprise as she appeared from behind Kwon Tae-Won and Jung So-Mi.
Jung So-Mi took some of the bags from Jang Eun-Young and said, “Hello, Writer Jang. I’m a Laugh Books employee from now on. I’ll be handling romance novels, including your novel. I’m looking forward to working with you.”
“I’m happy to hear that you’ll be the editor in charge of my novel.”
“Don’t be too happy just yet. I’ll be dropping by the office often, and I’ll can you guys often as well.”
“I’ll prepare a delicious meal for you, so please go easy on me. Clever of me to buy extra food back~ Please wait for a while more, everyone.”
Kanh Min-Ho rolled up his sleeves and went to help Jang Eun-Young. “How many did you buy? OMG, five?! Are you going to cook them all?”
“Of course, and they aren’t really that huge.”
“Wait, do we even have a pot that can them all?”
While the pair was preparing dinner, Ha Jae-Gun and Kwon Tae-Won headed to the end of the corridor.
Kwon Tae-Won explained what happened while Ha Jae-Gun was busy.
The expression on Ha Jae-Gun’s stiffened as he listened.
“...I only found out after receiving a call from Deputy Lee as well. She said Ms. So-Mi walked over on her own after getting struck with fear. She even added that the editor-in-chief from Star Books had threatened that he wouldn’t let her off so easily.”
“So how did it get resolved?”
“I contacted the owner of the restaurant, of course. I’ve been a regular there since my days with Star Books, and I know them quite well, so it was easy to communicate with them. I called Star Books, saying that I got the CCTV recordings, and they yielded immediately. The guy would have been in bigger trouble if it were escalated into a sexual harassment case.”
Kwon Tae-Won sighed as he looked at the darkening sky outside.
“I had no idea that something like that was happening to her, and she hasn’t told me about it. If I knew, I would have asked her to join Laugh Books much earlier. However, it’s great to hear that everything has already been resolved.”
“Yeah…” Ha Jae-Gun agreed softly as he grew more apologetic toward Jung So-Mi.
Even if Ha Jae-Gun didn’t know since Jung So-Mi had never brought it up, it didn’t mean that she wasn’t feeling quite depressed.
He felt pity for Jung So-Mi, who had never lost her smile despite the adversity.
“Oh, I haven’t told you about Writer Yang yet.” Kwon Tae-Won snapped his fingers, changing the topic of their conversation and the atmosphere.
“He has sent over all the chapters up until the end of the novel.”
“Really? Then, what is he doing right now?”
“He’s drafting a new novel. He said he’d send the draft over to me once he’s written about 50,000 characters. He said he wants to continue working at the gas station, and he’s gotten quite used to it as well.”
“Did you not ask him to return to the office?”
Kwon Tae-Won leaned back as he broke into a laugh. “This is your office, Writer Ha, what right do I have to do something like that? Anyway, I have to go to the washroom, so please excuse me.”
All left alone, Ha Jae-Gun whipped out his phone. He was about to send a message, but he decided against it and pressed the dial button instead.
Yang Hyun-Kyung answered the call a few seconds later.
— W-writer Ha…?
“How are you doing?”
Only silence returned from Hyun-Kyung’s end.
Ha Jae-Gun waited patiently for his reply.
He could hear people talking and moving around busily in the background.
— I’ve been taking the health supplements you sent. Thanks to you, I’m doing pretty well.
Ha Jae-Gun looked around the corridor to see if there was anyone else around and scratched the back of his head. The scent of delicious food was already wafting in the air through the ajar door.
“Are you done with your shift?”
— Yes, I worked the morning shift today.
“You haven’t had dinner yet, right? Writer Jang is making a large pot of boiled duck with rice, so come here. Let’s eat.”
— I’m too ashamed to…
“If you don’t come here in thirty minutes, I’ll go on your novel and start leaving bad comments on it. Goodbye.”
— W-writer Ha?!
Ha Jae-Gun ended the call and started helping the others set the table for dinner.
After roughly fifteen minutes, Yang Hyun-Kyung appeared in the office with a flushed face. He was panting heavily, and it was obvious that he ran all the way here.
Kang Min-Ho was the first to greet him with a surprised smile.
“Oh my, who is this? Our resident financier is back,” he teased.
“Writer Ha threatened to put bad comments on my novel if I didn’t come for dinner…”
Everyone burst into laughter at Yang Hyun-Kyung’s explanation, but no one really asked any questions. There was no need for any more words either. Their dinner preparations had sped up with Yang Hyun-Kyung’s help.
‘He should be able to relax now.’
It was all water under the bridge. What was most important was tomorrow. Ha Jae-Gun had a lot to say to Jung So-Mi, but he decided to bury his questions for now, afraid that he would affect the friendly atmosphere at the dinner table.
The out-of-place gears finally found their places one by one.
The writers’ office had become livelier than ever.
Yang Hyun-Kyung had left his hellish dormitory at the gas station and returned to the office, while Jung So-Mi, who was now a Laugh Books employee, would appear at the office once every two days.
“Writer Ha, would you like to take a look at the draft of the illustration for the third volume of Oscar’s Dungeon?”
“This looks good. Nothing looks off. Please go ahead with this.”
The title for Ha Jae-Gun’s latest fantasy novel had been decided.
Everyone had been brainstorming on the title for a while, but they couldn’t find a fitting title. Somehow, Jung So-Mi suggested using the main character’s name as part of the title, and Ha Jae-Gun immediately agreed because he was getting tired of thinking of a good title for his new novel.
The progress afterward was rather quick, and the one who played the largest role was definitely Jung So-Mi.
Jung So-Mi meticulously edited the five volumes that Ha Jae-Gun had submitted and quickly drew the covers for each of those volumes—including five to six black-and-white illustrations per volume.
Tomorrow, they would publish up to volume two.
“This novel is better as a physical book,” Ha Jae-Gun commented as he looked through the illustrations. “The services provided for each platform are different, so there are times when the illustrations would look distorted or couldn’t be inserted midway through the chapters. This is a dream of mine, so I wish to publish this as a physical book instead of focusing on maximizing profits.”
“I understand. I will let the president know.” Jung So-Mi pulled out her phone and returned to her desk.
Ha Jae-Gun returned to his monitor and sighed. He got stuck on the story’s development from the sixth volume. He had some ideas in mind, but he still had some doubts.
‘Let’s take it slow. It’s not like I’m working on another novel currently; plus, I still have a lot of time.’
At around 3 p.m., Ha Jae-Gun picked up his coat and stood up. He had to be at the broadcast station for the studio recording of A Writer’s Study. He had agreed to meet Oh Myung-Suk there as well.
“Good luck with your recording, Writer Ha.”
Jung So-Mi followed Ha Jae-Gun down to the parking lot to send him off.
Ha Jae-Gun opened the door to the driver’s seat, but he turned around to look at her before entering the car.
“If I managed to get back early, would you like to have dinner together?” he asked.
“Please let me know after you’re done with the recording.”
“Ah, please wait.” Jung So-Mi reached out and fixed his necktie.
Their eyes met at that moment, and Jung So-Mi hurriedly stepped backward and put her hands behind her as her face turned red.
“Please have a safe trip,” she said shyly.
“Thank you. Thank you for your work, and I’ll leave Rika in your hands.”
Before heading to the broadcast station, Ha Jae-Gun decided to drop by a large bookstore nearby. He had to grab the book that he had to recommend in the closing segment for A Writer’s Study. He bought a copy of the book, which he had already read once at the library before driving away toward his next destination.