An intensely curious person by admission, Ani Palacios’ fascination with all matter of subject seeps into her writing. Each book is different: one gives advice to new immigrants in the United States, another shares the journeys of a handsome (yet fictitious) Peruvian Texan musician, No Strings Attached shares the secret to unconditional love, and her award-winning novel Nos vemos en Purgatorio is a semi-autobiographical story of a Latina in the corporate world. We met at Columbus Metropolitan Library and discussed Palacios’ journey as an author and her creation of Pukiyari Publishing which promotes Latino authors from around the world right here in Columbus, Ohio.
Palacios moved to the United States in 1988 from Lima, Peru when the University of Miami, Florida accepted her husband into the Master’s of Computer Science Engineering. She lived in Miami for two years with her husband and young child living off a small stipend that disallowed the luxury of air conditioning or a car. Palacios pined for Lima, where she had worked as a successful copywriter at an ad agency. When it came time for her husband to graduate, the family had three options – they could either stay in Miami where her husband was offered a place in the doctoral program, move to the Midwest for a well-paying job in computer science, or return to Lima, Peru.
The promise of financial stability in the Midwest (Peru at this time was experiencing an economic recession) brought her family to Ohio. As she puts it, “I thought, ‘This is not going to last, we’re going to go back [to Peru].’ Well, things started moving, we bought a house, our second child arrived, we got our green cards.” Despite a stint in San Antonio, Texas for a few years, Palacios and family continue to live in Columbus. Here, they’ve established Pukiyari Publishing.
As an author, Palacios experienced difficulties in finding the correct publisher for Spanish-language books in the United States. Noticing this difficulty she decided to self-publish, creating Pukiyari Publishing so she might help other Latino authors in similar situations. Listen to more about Palacios’ writings, publishing company, and inspiring journey below:
Living in a Double World:
🎧 Listen (5:07)
“In 1988, my husband and I were newly married with a child that was ten-months-old. He was awarded a scholarship to do his masters in computer science engineering at University of Miami in Florida. So, we went to Miami for the two years. I quite frankly, didn’t like it. I didn’t feel comfortable, I didn’t speak much English. I was looking forward to coming back to Peru [Lima, Peru] and continuing with my life, which was copywriter for an ad agency – I was on my way to be the director… [In Peru] I had a good job and he had a good job, but he was given this opportunity, scholarship… So we came here.”
“He took the job here [in 1990], it ended up being not in Chicago, but Columbus, Ohio. We were like, ‘Where is Ohio?’ That’s not part of the places you typically know coming into the country. We ended up coming, I still thought that we wouldn’t stay… I thought, ‘This is not going to last, we’re going to go back [to Peru].’ Well, things started moving, we bought a house, our second child arrived, we got our green cards… I had depression once when we decided we were staying… I went looking for something to help me… It turns out there was nothing, so I wrote my first book in 1996 and it’s Living in a Double World. It’s a guide for immigrants in the U.S… the psychological, the emotional, and the practical realities of living in the United States.”
Embracing writing and creating Pukiyari:
🎧 Listen (7:15)
“In 2009, I wrote my novel and I self-published it. I went with a company where I thought they would also edit my book – [the] corrections, revisions, all that good stuff. And I thought I would have a Spanish Language person as my advisor. I paid a lot of money for that, and it was not great… Turns out they had no Spanish person… I finished that book, and I sent it for a contest called the International Latino Book Award – this was Nos Vemos en Purgatorio… I found out that I won first place, and second place was Paulo Coelho – the big bestseller! I could not believe it!.. Now the big publishing house companies wanted to publish it…I went from zero to being published by this big deal company…”
“Pukiyari was first Contacto Latino Libros… Basically, what we do is we are a really great combination of self-publishing and traditional publishing… When you publish with us, you get to keep your copyright, you have control over your book… and you also get those really nice editing and revisions… I thought, ‘What would I as a writer want?’ And this is how we came up with Pukiyari.”
Persist & follow the leads:
🎧 Listen (2:07)
“Persistence and following all the leads… There’s a lot of struggle in following all the leads, but that’s the way I got started – just by knocking at doors and talking to people and just meeting people… People say that it’s really funny that I’m so short, because I’m like a little bulldog, always there, always there, always there. Even though people can push me down, I’ll come back… I never believe that you’re done as a writer… And I’m sure I’m going to find another subject that I’ll be drawn to very soon.”
A “citizen of the world:”
🎧 Listen (1:34)
“Well, I’m still Peruvian, I’m still Latina, definitely. My cultural background will be more on that side than this side. But, within the past couple of years, I finally have started to see myself as an American as well. I used to see myself very much as an outsider even though I’ve had citizenship since 2000. I find myself defending my country and feeling proud of it and feeling part of it and feeling concerned for it. I definitely have developed a second heart for this country… and with all of this work, I’m a citizen of the world now.”