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JOĂO UBALDO RIBEIRO

Bedside reading – The Illyiad.
Unrealized desire – None.
Favourite places – Rio de Janeiro and Itaparica.
Idiosyncrasy – Twisting the ends of my hair around my ear.
Vice – Cigarettes. One and a half packs of Hollywood per day.
Drink – Whisky. Preferably, Black & White.
Films – Dr. Strangelove, by Stanley Kubrick, and Férias de amor, by Joshua Longan.
Actor – Laurence Olivier.
Actress – Fernanda Montenegro.
Music – Bach and Mozart.
Writer – Shakespeare.
Favoured leisure – Reading.
Best time to write – The middle of the night. The silence and calm inspire me.
Passion – If my wife was here beside me, she would know what to answer.
Hates – Violence.
What you most despise in people – Hypocrisy.
from the Jornal do Brasil Sunday magazine, 27/07/91.

How a novel is born

On the origin of the novel:
"The story starts to appear suddenly, and begins to crystallize. Then I talk things over with my wife and friends. I say I have something that might make a story, and I give it a title, though sometimes it ends up being different. One fine day, I start to write. I make notes, but they never help, they don’t do any good. Generally I buy a pile of notebooks to record the ideas that come as I write. I make grand plans but it never does any good, it always turns out some other way. A name comes, an idea, an episode, a phase of the story."

On character-creation:
"There’s no planning. The characters just arrive and make their way in. I don’t have the slightest idea of what will happen to them. I can’t dissect them. Many times, I’ve changed the character and the way he thinks and acts. I don’t imagine the characters physically."

On development of narrative:
"The story often changes in the middle of the narrative. I think it’s going to go one way but it’s a lie, it all changes. Then there’s nothing to be done. Sometimes, there’s a knot in the middle of the narrative. You think it’s all tied up, but it isn’t. And you think you’ll never undo it. You suffer, but you end up untying the knot. You have to stop for a while, and then go back to it. When I sit down to go on with a book I look at what I wrote the day before in order to give continuity, as if it were a new day."

On the writer’s daily routine:
"I used to wake up in the middle of the night to write. I don’t do that anymore, for health reasons. But for example, I don’t like to be seen writing. When I work on a book, I write every day. From morning to evening. I always have my diary and pocketknife with me, for writerly survival. And I always write at the computer, to read over it later printed out on paper. I like classical music, Bach in truth, but I can’t bear writing with music playing. When I want to hear music, I want to hear music. When I want to write, I want to write."
Interview published in the cultural section of Correio Braziliense, 10/01/1998.