My Secret Life: Paulo Coelho, 64, author

Excerpts from the interview published this past Saturday, Jan 14, in Independent UK. To read the full Q&A, CLICK HERE

The household I grew up in… doesn’t exist anymore, but my childhood will never disappear.

You wouldn’t know it but I am very good at… archery. The gigantic tension before the shooting of an arrow, and the total relaxation seconds later is my way of connecting to the universe.

You may not know it but I’m no good at… singing. However, every time there is a guitar around I will sing, and my real friends will tolerate it.

I wish I had never worn… an old hippie jacket, covered in patches and metal stars.

My favourite item of clothing… Japanese yukatas [kimonos].

It’s not fashionable but I like
… to sleep naked.

My favourite work of art... The Arnolfini Portrait by Van Eyck, the most important painting in the world. With all due respect, the Mona Lisa is overrated.

My favourite building... Chartres Cathedral, in France. Original stained-glass windows and a labyrinth that reminds me of the journey we take from life to death.

A book that changed me… Tropic of Cancer, by Henry Miller. It was while reading this that I discovered you need to use blood to write every single page.

Movie heaven
… Once Upon a Time in the West, followed by Lawrence of Arabia.

My greatest regret… I don’t have one. I’ve done everything I wanted to do, even if I have had to pay a very high price – which has been the case most of the time.

My secret crush... Audrey Hepburn.

My real-life villain... Fundamentalists – and you can find them in every single religion on this planet.

The last time I cried… I cry very easily. It can be a movie, a phone conversation, a sunset – tears are words waiting to be written.

My five-year plan… To continue to breathe.