“Hurry up!” These were Pepa’s very first, large words to her parents in Santiago, Chile, where she was born and raised. She has two novels: A Place on Earth, which is about the year that changed her life, and Papito Corazon, the story of her father: a very closed and impenetrable soldier who always was an unsolved mystery for her. Pepa Valenzuela has a Master´s degree in Creative Writing in Spanish from NYU and currently works for El Mercurio magazine, teaches Spanish at NYU, and is writing two non-fiction books.

As a Story Terrace writer, Pepa interviews customers and turns their life stories into books. Get to know her better: you can read an autobiographical story of her own below. Get in touch today to work with her!

My First Lie

I lived in a tall, concrete building in downtown Santiago with my parents. I was the only child and every Christmas, I asked Santa to bring me a brother: someone to play with, somebody to talk to. But my brother never came, so I had to create my own adventures. I cut my own cardboard wings, wrote fantastic short stories, built camps and houses with sheets and toys, and talked to The Wolf, my best and most loyal imaginary friend.

But what made me really happy was going to the swimming classes I had at my daycare. That swimming pool was a real ocean. To me, the deep end seemed like a dangerous cave where any child could disappear forever in a blink of an eye. The blue ceramics at the bottom were little mirrors that I could see the reflection of my feet in. There, I was like a fish. I loved to be in that swimming pool: I felt immense, free, and less lonely.

Until that day when I had a cold. My mother said, “Today you can’t go to the swimming pool. You’ll get sicker if you go into the water.”

She was taking my tiny kingdom away. But I had an idea.

“Mommy, can I change my backpack to go to school today?”

She agreed. So I put away the plastic and transparent bag I took every day to school, and I took a fabric one I had in my closet. I put my swimming suit and a thin towel underneath all my school supplies. On my way to daycare, I threw away my mom’s note to the teacher saying I couldn’t participate that day in the swimming class.

After the class, I put my swimming suit in a bag and I tried to dress up and style my hair just the way it was when I left home that morning. It didn’t work out. That night, my mom caught me lying: I had put my socks inside out. The sewing betrayed me.

“You lied to me!” she said dramatically as she raise her hands toward her face, like I had committed a crime.

Many years later, I was invited for the day care’s anniversary. Now, the swimming pool seemed like a little pond where you could barely put your feet in. I smiled. I smiled because back then, I turned that pond into an ocean.