Interview: Metro UK

What’s Aleph about?
My experience on the Trans-Siberian Railway. I was thinking: ‘I’m already a very successful author, I don’t need to do anything,’ and was feeling something was wrong. I travelled for three months. I started in London in 2006 and ended up in Vladivostok – just to get in contact with my soul.

Did you learn anything about yourself?
You’re always learning. The problem is, sometimes you stop and think you understand the world. This is not correct. The world is always moving. You never reach the point you can stop making an effort.

Were there any revelations along the way?
Of course. Just from meeting people – a taxi driver, for example – or finding a book. I’m open to life and during this period I was open to new experiences. When you don’t follow the rule your parents impose – ‘don’t talk to strangers’ – you learn.

People seem to experience spiritual revelations in exotic locations – can you have one on the way to work?
Of course. I don’t take the Trans-Siberian every day but I try to give every day the opportunity for these experiences. If you’re open to people on your way to work, it can happen. Or you can choose to be totally inwards and think only of yourself. You have to live in the moment.

What do your readers expect from your books?
I don’t know. I never write books with this question in mind. I only write to understand myself better. I talk to my readers on social networking sites but I never tell them what the book is about. Writing is lonely, so from time to time I talk to them on the internet. It’s like chatting at a bar without leaving your office. I talk with them about a lot of things other than my books.

Do you have any writing habits?

It’s as Lewis Carroll said: start at the beginning, go to the end, then stop. That’s how I write. I write quickly. I don’t try to show how intelligent or how cultivated I am, I just try to share my soul. Sharing is part of life.

Read more: 60 Seconds with Coelho