The initial interview invitation was declined. However, I persisted and the email invitation was received to atend the home of Paulo Coelho who would be available for interview there.
I was in London, UK and booked a car ferry. Not realising the length of the drive to Geneva, Switzerland. Or the trecherous road conditions during the winter time. With snow and ice a plenty to negotiate. Along with the plummeting sub zero temperatures of a night. Plus the cost of toll roads. There was certainly a lot to navigate in a short time.
So car ferry booked, airbnb booked. Duvet in the back of the car and some warm clothes. Off we went heading towards the ferry port of Dover in the UK. Full tank of fuel on board along with some essential nutritional snacks. To consume en route, I had not planned to stop but was forced to at a service station on the borders of Belgium and Switzerland. I would advise not trying to drive for fifteen hors without a break. Cramp sets in and is more than uncomfortable.
I had no Euro currency given I left the UK with little notice. This created issues at the first toll road and subsequently others.
Having had a very cold attempt to sleep in the back of the car. I headed for the motorways again. This time we made as far as the border but did not have enough cash to go through the toll. My credit card declined, it had been blocked as I failed to let the card provider know I wanted to use it outside of the UK. So I was pointed in the direction of their offices. There I had to provide every conceivable document relating to the car. Along with my passport etc. I was given ten days to pay or would be fined heavily.
I arrived at my airbnb on the shores of Lake Geneva. My hosts were a Sri Lankan family who could not have been more hospitable. Insisting I eat with them which was welcomed. Having fasted for much of my eternal car journey on those bleak winter roads. Another point I had no Sat Nav or map which was a foolish oversite on my part. Expecting my phone would work. Ofcourse it stopped working as soon as I arrived in France..
After a hot bath I slept fitfully. To be woken to the most amazing view of Lake Geneva. The snow was falling silently outside covering everything in a white blanket. Breakfast was beyond a delight with hot coissants and steaming coffee. The house where I stayed was impecable in tewrms of decoration and cleanliness. Minimilist in terms of possesions with lots of space. The underfloor heating was a welcome addition having been in the car on the frozen roads for so many hours.
After breakfast I thought what can you ask one of the most celebrated authors on the planet at this time ? The family I was staying with offered me some Swiss Francs for fuel. As the cars fuel warning light had been on for some considerable distance. My phone was restored and working again thankfully. It was a short drive from where I was staying thankfully. The snow had been cleared from the roads. They are incredibly efficient at doing this. I guess practice makes perfect. I had a number of books for him to sign. He stopped doing public book signings many years ago. As a result of the volume of people turning uop at these events.
I set off stopping for fuel on the way. I parked the car but not speaking Swiss had some difficulty locating the address. I parked the car, found the apartment block and pressed the intercom. I was invited to bring my car to the secure parking at the building. It was a very large building and the penthouse stretched over two buildings that were adjacent to one another. Very impressive and people take these measures for security reasons.
His wife the celebrated artist Christina Oiticica who's art work is hung on the walls greeted me. Immediatly offering me the choice of locations within the vast expanse in which to record the interview. We chose the kitchen, dining area up a set of spiral stairs leading to the highest room in the complex. With panaromic views of the surrounding mountains. She immediatly started to prepare Coffee. Heating the milk seperatly, someone was tapping a keyboard at a work station in the corner of the room. When Paulo arrived he greeted me warmly in his Brazilian accent.
We sat a the table where the Coffee was steaming in front of us. I noticed a bow for shooting arrows in the corner of the room. Not something one expects to fine but it is Paulo's pastime. Also a good fitness exercise as he explained. Kyudo being the Japanese martial art of archery and it certainly is an art. That takes both strength and complete focus. He compares it to meditation and enjoys it more than sex!
The audio interview below is an excerpt. The interviw was transcribed in part and published. You will find the full audio interview and transcription in a number of languages available at www,whereisyourheart.net.
I trust you will enjoy the interview and feel some of the trails and tribulations he experienced on his journey. To becoming the celebrated author he is today. www.philcartwright.love
About the author
I was brought up on the banks of the River Mersey. Opposite Liverpool in aplace called the Wirral. A peninsular between Liverpool and North Wales in the UK. I worked in Theatre and Opera before moving into Film and Television.