Paulo Coelho was born on August 24, 1947, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He was a rebellious teenager and his parents committed him to an asylum three times. When Coelho was 38 years old, he had a spiritual awakening in Spain and wrote about it in his first book, The Pilgrimage. It was his second book, The Alchemist, which made him famous. He’s sold 35 million copies and now writes about one book every two years. After drifting among several professions, Coelho changed his life's course while on a visit to Spain in 1986 at the age of 36. Coelho walked more than 500 miles along the Road to Santiago de Compostela, a site of Catholic pilgrimage. The walk and the spiritual awakening he experienced en route inspired him to write The Pilgrimage, an autobiographical account of the trek, in his native Portuguese. He quit his other jobs and devoted himself full-time to the craft of writing.
Since the publication of The Alchemist, Coelho has produced a new book at a rate of about one every two years. In a somewhat unusual scheduling ritual, he allows himself to begin the writing process for a new book only after he has found a white feather in the January of an odd year. As odd as that may sound, it seems to be working. His 26 books have sold more than 65 million copies in at least 59 languages.