MEREDITH ENGEL/METRO NEW YORK
Last modified: October 03, 2011 6:21 p.m.
Paulo Coelho needs no introduction: He’s has sold more than 100 million books worldwide and holds the world record for most translated books by a living author. His newest novel, “Aleph,” is an autobiographical account of his journey across the Trans-Siberian railroad — and time and space — in search of spiritual fulfillment. Released in the US at the end of September.
I read it took you four years to gather the material for this book, but only three weeks to write it. Can you talk about putting it together?
I decided to travel for three months, nonstop, and I had this experience, this “Aleph.” I lived through, well, things that are very difficult to explain in a book. One year ago I said to myself, “I’m never going to write about this.” I don’t know what happened, but I sat down and I start writing. When (my agent) called me two and a half weeks later, I said, “You know this book I said I’m never going to write? I’m almost in the end of it.”
You had a whole other life as a lyricist before becoming a novelist. How did you decide to take that leap of faith and change careers?
I wrote my first book when I was 40 years old. I think we all have a kind of mid-life crisis, when you look at yourself in the mirror and say, “Am I betraying myself?” My midlife crisis brought me this epiphany to be faithful to my bliss.
You’ve released books online and you’re the second-most influential Twitter user in the world, only behind Justin Bieber. Did you know the Internet was going to play a large role in your career?
I did not know. In 2006 I started writing a blog, and then I started getting feedback from readers, which I never thought I would have. I need the reader not as a reader only but as a person who understands my soul. Things that I post and tweet or Facebook or [write] in my blog, I cannot write a book about. I adapt to new platforms as a challenge. One has to be challenged by life. I may be old in age but not in curiosity, so it’s so good to have this challenge. It gives me a lot of joy.
Were you nervous about sharing so many intimate details about your life?
I was not nervous but I was a little bit uncomfortable. I?felt, “Oh my God, well, I should cut here, I should cut there.” Then I said, “This is so useless. You put your soul into it or you don’t. You cannot tell the half-truth. Half-truth is not the whole truth. Just say whatever you have to say, and trust your readers.”