Peter Bapaz

Peter Bapaz is a Latin American writer who famously published his work, Lake Clementine in the late 1950s.  Peter was born in 1932 to Leo and Eva Bapaz in the city of Bananaville.  At that time, the country of Granonda was enduring a particularly bloody civil war. Peter was an only child.  He often spent his days unsupervised wandering around Bananaville while his parents worked in the town factory.  

In an interview given in 1975, Peter stated that he “never learned to write my name until I met Linda.”  Linda Hall was Peter’s wife and the woman who taught him how to read and write.  At the time, there was a civil war in Granonda.   Education was a low priority since all the resources were channeled into the civil war.  Linda (who was 4 years older than Peter) was working  in a teacher abroad program in 1952 when she stumbled into Peter’s neighborhood.  She found the twenty year old telling stories on the sidewalk to a group of young children.  She stayed to hear his story and from then on, the two were inseparable.  She taught him how to read and write and helped him put his sidewalk stories on paper.  It is widely believed in the literary community that she is the inspiration behind the character of Gloria in the award-winning novel Lake Clementine. 

Peter’s most well-known novel, Lake Clementine, named after Granada’s most famous lake, takes place approximately 25 miles south of the capital city of Bananaville.  In reality, the lake is primarily known for its crystal blue water and its diverse marine life. It enjoys a year-round warm, tropical climate that makes it an attraction for tourists from all over the globe.  Bapaz turns this beautiful lake into a tale of horror and suspense, complete with magical marine creatures who cast spells and haunt the unsuspecting tourists.  The book is hailed for its realistic scenery contrasting with the horrible creatures.  The only salvation comes in the form of a woman named Gloria, who with her beauty and charm is able to destroy the marine creatures with an elaborate series of tricks.

Although the novel is categorized as fantasy, the author refuses to acknowledge this and said in another interview given after the publication in 1957, “my book is an example of how the civil war in my country tore everyone apart.  The readers are free to enjoy it as fantasy but I know that the marine creatures are the horrible soldiers who tore apart the people of Granonda.”  

Since the death of Linda Hall in 1980, Peter Bapaz has lived in complete seclusion.  He no longer gives interviews and has not been seen in public since the news broke of Linda’s death. After the publication of Lake Clementine, Bapaz published a book of short stories also set in the same town with the same group of characters.  After that, he went on the teach writing at the University of Granonda for a number of years.  It is not known whether or not Bapaz is working on another novel to add to his collections. 

by Allan Borrayo