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The Greenwich Meridian

Thanks for stopping by! My name is Monica Viera and I'm an author who interviews different artists from around the world.

"Greenwich Meridian”, a new memoir by local author, Emma Palova, is an epic story of emigration from former Czechoslovakia to the U.S. spanning two generations. The main characters are her parents, Ella and Vaclav Konecny, who suffered in the aftermath of the 1968 Prague Spring movement led by Alexander Dubcek.

Her first book, “Shifting Sands: Short Stories” are stories based in the fictive Midwest town of Riddleyville. Palova was born in the former Czechoslovakia. She is a Lowell Michigan-based author now and is very excited to share her memoir with readers. In addition to being a novelist, Palova is a screenwriter, and journalist who has written for a number of publications, including Czechoslovak Newsweek and Prague Reporter.


Is “Greenwich Meridian Memoir” your first book?

The "Greenwich Meridian Memoir" is my third book after the Shifting Sands Short Stories series with book 1- Short Stories and book 2- Secrets. Book 1 was published in June 2017 and book 2- Secrets was published in the summer of 2019. COVID-19 delayed both-the full marketing of Secrets and the publishing of the "Greenwich Meridian Memoir."

What made me decide to write the memoir about our Konecny family immigration saga from former Czechoslovakia to the USA?

I was naturalized as an American citizen in August of 1999 at the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids and the Ionia Sentinel-Standard did a story about that. The Associated Press syndicated and ran the story around Michigan. I received congratulations from all over the state. People were asking me about our story behind the naturalization.

No.2 prompt was many years later in our hometown of Lowell, when our editor Toni asked me to write up the story of our immigration saga, which at the time spanned three generations.

How would you describe your book, “Greenwich Meridian?”

The “Greenwich Meridian Memoir” is an epic story of love and immigration from former Czechoslovakia to the USA. The story unravels on the backdrop of two major historical events in the old country: the Prague Spring 1968 and the Velvet Revolution, 1989. Prague Spring led by Alexander Dubcek propelled the major characters, my parents Ella & Vaclav Konecny into action.

Is there a story behind the title you chose?

Yes. And I quote from the book: “Long time ago, I've learned that the Greenwich Meridian or prime meridian near London at zero longitude is where East meets West. I’ve crossed it many times in both directions, sometimes not knowing if I was coming back either way. The last time I crossed it was for my Aunt Martha’s funeral on Jan. 12, 2017.

Did you learn anything about yourself while writing the book?

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Yes: Two major things. I have learned that it takes a strong character to leave your homeland and to assimilate into a new culture. No.2- You have to have a firm goal and eventually you will find out that you were being selfish.

What do you hope readers take away from your book?

Know yourself and what you want, and then you will accomplish it. Will you be happy? Not necessarily. We have examples all around us of highly accomplished people like the president of the USA. Do you think he’s happy?

When I asked my parents in an interview if they would do it again, they both answered no. On the other hand, I would do it all over again and better. I have to ask my husband that same question.

Do you have any other books or projects you would like to tell us about?

Yes. It is book no. 2: “Secrets” from the Shifting Sands Short Stories collections whose potential has never materialized due to COVID-19. Here is a brief synopsis:

From action-packed 40 Hunks to the corrupt police chief Will who extorts favors from his victims during hometown events, to Father Samuel in White Nights, the book delivers egotistical characters to the reader. Thematically, the subjects of the stories cover the epic human struggle for happiness. Some stories like the Chief and Secrets in Ink are based on my journalistic experience from covering small towns. Typishly Magazine wrote: “The story Chief has a nice premise: The town had two memories; one forgiving and one unforgiven.

And book no.3 in the Shifting Sands Short Stories collection that I am outlining for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). The title is Shifting Sands: Steel Jewels.

Both covers to the "Greenwich Meridian Memoir" and the “Shifting Sands: Steel Jewels” were designed by graphic artist Jeanne Boss of Rockford. It is a collage of memorabilia from our immigration saga including my mom Ella's infamous African driver's license and the Czech coat of arms on the wings of the bird.

The cover to “Steel Jewels” resembles iron-clad personalities who never give up.

For more information on Emma please visit her website:


Liz Westwood from UK on October 12, 2020:

This is a very interesting article. I visited Prague and learnt about the uprising in the Museum of Communism, which features in my article on Prague New Town.

Emma Palova on October 12, 2020:

Thank you Monica for the lovely article.

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