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The author of books such as, ‘The Alchemist’, ‘Veronika Decides to Die’, and ‘The Valkyries: An Encounter with Angels’.
Paulo Coelho (IPA: [ˈpau̯lu ˈko̯eʎu]) (born August 24, 1947) is a Brazilian lyricist and novelist.
Coelho was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where he attended law school, but in 1970 abandoned his studies to travel throughout Mexico, Peru, Bolivia, and Chile, as well as Europe and North Africa.
Coelho wrote song lyrics for many famous performers in Brazilian music, such as Elis Regina and Rita Lee. Yet his most well known work has been done with Raul Seixas. Together they wrote such successes as Eu nasci há dez mil anos atrás (I was born ten thousand years ago), Gita and Al Capone, amongst other 60 songs.
His fascination with the spiritual quest dates back to his hippie days, when he travelled the world learning about secret societies, oriental religions, etc.
In 1982 Coelho published his first book, Hell Archives, which failed to make any kind of impact. In 1985 he contributed to the Practical Manual of Vampirism, although he later tried to take it off the shelves, since he considered it “of bad quality”. In 1986, PAULO COELHO did the pilgrimage to Saint James of Compostella, an experience later to be documented in his book The Pilgrimage.
Two years later he returned to Brazil and began composing popular music lyrics, working with such popular musicians as Raul Seixas. As he confesses in an interview to Juan Arias, during that time he was introduced to the work of controversial English mystic Aleister Crowley, which influenced their collaboration. The influence extended not only to music, but also to plans for the creation of the "Alternative Society," which was to be an anarchist community in the state of Minas Gerais based on Crowley's premise: "'Do what thou wilt' shall be the whole of the Law." The project was considered subversive by members of the Brazilian military, which imprisoned all prospective members of the group. Seixas and Coelho are reported to have been tortured during their imprisonment.
After a supernatural experience, described in The Valkyries, Coelho left the society.
Later in Holland he met a person (whom he would refer to as "J" throughout The Valkyries, The Pilgrimage and his website "Warriors of Light online") who changed his life and Coelho was driven towards Christianity. He said he became member of a Catholic group called Regnus Agnus Mundi, with J as its leader. However, he is the only source for the existence of the group and the Latin name is fake. In 1986 he walked along the Road of Santiago, an ancient Spanish pilgrimage and his book The Pilgrimage describes his final initiation.
He and his wife Christina live in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
He writes a column every Sunday in Brazilian newspaper O Globo.
Paulo Coelho talks about The Zahir in Meet the Author: