Q. When did you decide to become a writer?
A. It took me 40 years to write my first book. When I was a child, I was encouraged to go to school. I was not encouraged to follow the career of a writer because my parents thought that I was going to starve to death. They thought nobody can make a living from being a writer in Brazil. They were not wrong. But I still had this call, this urge to express myself in writing.
Q. Your most famous book, “The Alchemist,” has sold 65 million copies worldwide. Does its continuing success surprise you?
A. Of course. It’s difficult to explain why. I think you can have 10,000 explanations for failure, but no good explanation for success.
Q. You’ve also had success distributing your work free. You’re famous for posting pirated version of your books online, a very unorthodox move for an author.
A. I saw the first pirated edition of one of my books, so I said I’m going to post it online. There was a difficult moment in Russia; they didn’t have much paper. I put this first copy online and I sold, in the first year, 10,000 copies there. And in the second year it jumped to 100,000 copies. So I said, “It is working.” Then I started putting other books online, knowing that if people read a little bit and they like it, they are going to buy the book.
To read the full interview, please CLICK HERE
This interview will be in the print edition of The New York Times tomorrow, September 27, the same day that ALEPH will be released in USA and Canada.