Paulo Coelho

Stories & Reflections

Question by the reader : Savita Vega

Author: Paulo Coelho

You say that you only start a novel once every two years, which you then complete in a few short weeks. During this two-year period, you say that the book is “being written in your soul.” I have two specific questions: When do you first conceive of the idea for your new book – at some point during that two-year period, or at the moment when you first sit down to write it? Secondly, do you spend that two years thinking about the book and working it out in your mind, or do you simply sit down, with no prior concept of the work and just see where the writing leads you?

Dear Savita,
This is always variable.
In the case of the Alchemist for instance I knew I had to move from my previous book The Pilgrimage that is a non-fiction book. I knew I had to write a fiction but it took me a couple of months to find the right thread. During this time I felt a state of urgency in my soul but I couldn’t force things either. So I had to live with an intuition and also wait for it to flourish.
In the case of other books – such as The Winner Stands Alone – I simply let myself live. I went to Cannes film festival in 2007 and there I felt something was wrong – I couldn’t understand how this particular universe functioned and gradually felt drawn to understand it. Before I knew that was a story in my imagination.

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