Puértolas started studying Political Sciences in Madrid, but political problems prevented her from pursuing this further. She then went to study Economic Sciences in Bilbao but again did not finish her course. She eventually took up studying journalism. She married at twenty-one and went to live with her husband in Trondheim, Norway. After returning to Spain, the couple moved to California where she obtained an M.A. in Spanish and Portuguese Language and Literature at the University of California, Santa Barbara and where she gave birth to a son, Diego Pita, now a writer. After three years in California she moved back to Spain to 1974. In 1979 she won the Premio Sésamo for her work El bandido doblemente armado, the Premio Planeta in 1989 for Queda la noche, and the Premio Anagrama de Ensayo in 1993 with La vida oculta.