Interview with author Emma Palova
Emma Palova is a journalist, screenwriter, and author who has written for many different publications, including Czechoslovak Newsweek, Prague Reporter and The Lowell Ledger. Based in Lowell, Michigan Emma’s debut book “Shifting Sands: Short Stories” came out in 2017. Her newest book is “Greenwich Meridian”
The book is a memoir about her and her parent’s immigration from the former Czechoslovakia to the U.S. Spanning two generations, her story tells of her family’s struggles and how they ended up overcoming them. This is an inspiring book, a compelling tale where persistence and courage prevail.
1. Can you tell us about your journey to writing “Greenwich Meridian?”
The idea first occurred to me after my naturalization in August of 1999 at the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids. The Ionia Sentinel-Standard ran a story about my naturalization and the Associated Press syndicated it. At that time, I was working as a reporter for the Sentinel based in Ionia, MI. I received hundreds of congratulatory phone calls from all over the state and cards. Later, while working for the Lowell Ledger, our proof editor Toni suggested I should write a book about my life’s turbulent journey from former Czechoslovakia to the U.S.
However, it wasn’t until 2012 that I actually started writing it. I had to quit my reporting job, so I could write a memoir about our immigration saga spanning two generations. Then came twists and turns that brought about my previous two books before the realization of the forthcoming book.
I came across a stumbling block halfway through the book where I found out I couldn’t continue anymore. So, in that gap I wrote the short stories. I returned to the memoir and pulled it to its finish this April.
2. Was it hard to share my life’s experiences with the reader?
Yes, it was. While writing it, I was reliving our struggles all over again. All the memories came vividly back to me sometimes reshaped by time into monstrosity. I had to encapsulate five decades of our lives taking place on the backdrop of two major historical events: Prague Spring 1968 and Velvet Revolution 1989.
3. Why was this book important for you to write?
I wanted to share the story of immigration with the public at large, as well as to preserve it for the family and for future generations. I am privileged that my parents are alive, and they could add their account of our immigration experiences. I wanted to put everything into perspective for the reader as immigration is a current issue in the form of the DREAM Act and DACA.
4. What do you hope readers will take away from your book?
If you know yourself you can accomplish anything. Follow your dreams. It takes a strong character to leave your homeland, your friends and culture and to assimilate into a new culture. You have to be flexible and determined to do that, because there is no way of going back to the same scenario that you left behind. And we found out the hard way upon our return to Czechoslovakia in 1973 for President Svoboda’s amnesty.
5.You have another book called “Shifting Sands: Short Stories.” Can you tell us a little bit about that book?
That was my debut book published in 2017, and it is a part of the Shifting Sands anthology of short stories inspired by my journalism, retail and immigration experience. Book no. 1 Shifting Sands: Short Stories features hometown characters and their resilience in face of adversity like Irma in the short story “Tonight on Main.”
Book no. 2 Shifting Sands: Secrets includes a story about the corrupt police chief Will who extorts favors from his victims during hometown events. The core of the book is the historical fiction story “Silk Nora” set in turn-of-the-century Belding when it was known as the Silk City capital of the world.
6. Do you have any other projects that you would like to share with us?
I am currently outlining the third book in the Shifting Sands anthology. The title is Shifting Sands: Steel Jewels. The jewels represent the resilient characters who are shaped by their own actions or inactions. It will be a broad range of stories based in reality, some like “The Barbers” already anchored in the COVID-19 harsh reality. The style is called magic realism.
For more information on Emma please visit emmapalova.com