Interview with Paula Rose Michelson
Author of Casa de Naomi: The House of Blessing
(Source - Paula Rose Michelson & No Perfect Day For Banana Fish)
Today it's my pleasure to introduce Paula Rose Michelson. Paula is the founder of LAMB Ministries, which helps women recover from trauma and abuse through the effective use of scripture, and prayer. She leads a monthly writers group at Congregation Ben David in Orange, California, and serves with her husband, Ron, with Chosen People Ministries. The mother of two married daughters, and grandmother of seven grandchildren, when not writing, speaking, or teaching the effective use of scripture, you will find Paula researching her next book or meeting with friends.
Welcome to Ink Dots, Paula. Tell us a little about your book. My book is Casa de Naomi: The House of Blessing. Fifteen-year-old Naomi wants to practice her faith in public, find her uncle, and help him raise enough money to bring their family to America. To accomplish this she agrees to companion a blind, old woman whose family plans to tour Europe and settle in the United States. Her plans are thwarted when the woman passes away aboard ship, and Naomi is handed over to immigration. While she awaits her interview, an old Tía comes to Naomi’s rescue and offers to take her in. With nowhere to go and no one to turn to, Naomi agrees and unwittingly enters the country illegally.
This is Naomi’s journey from adolescence to womanhood, from frightened isolation and captivity to the noble status of heiress with a mission and responsibility many would shirk placed upon her shoulders. Along the way, she contends with piercing memories, hurtful loss, jealous opponents, a devious lawyer, and a curious priest. Through each step of this journey, she guards two secrets she dare not share with anyone, not even Chaz, the man she has married. Will she keep his love when he discovers who she really is? Find out in the first book of Paula Rose Michelson’s saga, Casa de Naomi: The House of Blessing. I really like the sound of that story. People making new lives in far away countries always interest me. That's been my own family's story.
Tell us a little about your family. I am the second generation of my family to be born in America. My grandparents immigrated from Jewish Schettles in Europe, which probably resembled the one seen in Fiddler on the Roof. My grandfather Louis owned a Jewish bakery off Fairfax in Los Angles. My grandfather Charlie built row upon row of apartment buildings in the San Fernando Valley. My mother was a stay at home – but very busy with charity work - mom. Wow! I love hearing immigrant stories. My own background is that of European families making a new life for themselves in Australia.
What's the main theme you wish readers to take away when they read your book? Primarily as we think, we are. No matter where we run to we cannot escape our inner reality. I hope that people will realize how their view of others can shape their history is a passion of mine. And lastly but of primary import, is the reality that whether seen or unseen God is always at work!
If you could follow one historical person for one day and one night, who would it be, and why? As a missionary and the wife of one, who is also as Pastor/Preacher/teacher, my passion is to draw close to our Messiah (Jesus) so I would love to be able to physically follow him!
Have you been to Australia? If yes, what fascinated you the most? Or...What would you like to experience if you had the chance to visit? If I were able to visit Downunder, my greatest joy would be meeting those like Alexandra who bought my first book before it was published. She’s given me an open invitation to stay with her and meet all her mates, and of course Dorothy, I’d love to visit you as well. Since I love to eat, I would love to go to all the great barbi places, and hope to cook and have everyone over so they can taste some Jewish food as well! Food always brings people together, and I'm sure you will love a good old Aussie BBQ. I hope we get to meet around my table someday, Paula.
What are you working on now?
Since Casa de Naomi: The House of Blessing is a six-book saga, and since my publisher accepted the second manuscript one month after the first novel released, I’m busy editing book two while doing signings, and presentations for book one. That's fantastic. Congratulations, and I look forward to hearing more about your coming books. Thanks for sharing your story with us here at Ink Dots.
Where can we find you on the internet?
Please visit me at http://www.PaulaWordsmith.com
Casa de Naomi Reflections Blog at http://CasadeNaomi.Blogspot.com
My Year of 5,000 Books Blog at http://PaulaWordsmith.Blogspot.com
Should you wish to email me you’ll find me at CasadeNaomi@PaulaWordsmith.com
Here's a peek at the first page of Paula's book. Leave a comment below and you will be in the running to win your own e-book copy of Casa de Naomi: House of Blessing! Check here on Friday to see if you're the lucky winner! You have until them to add your comment.
A Safe Haven
Naomi knew she was in trouble the moment the immigration official had told her, he was taking her to Ellis Island. No immigrants had disembarked there since the end of World War I. Someone had told her that the authorities could remove a passenger from a ship because of a problem with their paperwork. Yet even when she sat where the man had pointed and closed her eyes, she refused to believe that her situation was as dire as it appeared.
Her mind brought her back to the moment her life had changed forever. She could still hear herself scream, “Abuela Sosa, please do not be dead,” sobbing while she had tried to shake the old woman awake. The next thing she remembered was that the old woman’s daughter-in-law had packed her meager belongings into her suitcase. Unable to stop herself, she demanded, “You have no need of me anymore? I gave you a year of my life! Your esposo—I mean, your husband—promised he would help me enter America and search for my uncle if I took care of his madre!” As she uttered the words, her sorrow had mounted, for the kindhearted old woman had treated her as if she were her very own kin. However, that was certainly not true of the daughter-in-law, who seemed unfazed by the old woman’s death as she dispassionately closed the lid to the girl’s suitcase and stared at her. Why is she in such a hurry to rid herself of me before the doctor examines Abuela Sosa and declares her dead? She remembered the secretive phone call the woman had answered worried that the family had somehow discovered that the last name she had given was not hers, felt a knot in her stomach, and knew her worst fears were going to come true.
Naomi believed that immigration would never let her stay in America now, and closed her eyes. Only when the boat docked and the man grabbed her arm to hurry her onto the wharf did she open them.”
They entered a building and turned down a dark corridor. The man pointed to a chair in a stark office. She nodded, entered, sat down on the hard, wooden chair, and clutched her worn, brown, leather suitcase to her chest. An official took a man into a room. Before the door shut, she heard his interview begin.
She believed hers would be next, closed her eyes, and tried to think about her answers. But all she could think of was that her bright plans of coming to America to find her uncle were for naught. She remembered leaving her family in the middle of the night without an explanation or a good-bye and tears threatened to fall. I was a fool to agree to work for no wage because Mr. Sosa promised to help me achieve my dream when we arrived. She thought of all she had left, Mr. Sosa’s promise, and admitted, He lied to me!
Her thoughts returned to Abuela Sosa’s death. She could almost hear the old woman say, as she had the day they first met, “Many get to America. But getting into America can be difficult.”
I should not be here, she told herself while she tried to still her fidgeting. My entry into America should have been easy. Everything was attended to at the American Consulate before we left Spain—my documents, my medical history … I filled each paper out with the utmost care!
She looked around the waiting room. She was the only one there. Aware of the stories of the chosen few who were allowed to enter the country, she tried to think of anything but the future she feared and remembered reading that the original buildings had burnt to the ground and nonflammable materials had been used when they rebuilt the facility. It must have been an awful fire. Still …
When she heard the door to the office open, she looked at the wall clock and realized that at least an hour had passed since she sat down. An official took the man they had interviewed away. He left the door open at another man’s request. Hoping she might hear the men she assumed would decide her fate; she leaned forward in her chair, saw them pace back and forth, and listened to their conversation.
“Too bad the grandmother died,” she heard the large man say, his voice filled with what she prayed was sympathy for her plight.
“She has no sponsor. We must send her back to Spain.”
“But she says she has no people,” a man she could not see said.
“I tried to call the lady but was told she was out,” the small man said.
Naomi saw the large man wait while the man she had not seen left the office. Then he turned to his associate. “I told you not to speak about that!”
“It doesn’t make any difference. I left a message, but there’s no one to help the girl.” He looked at his watch. “We can’t wait any longer. It’s already five thirty. The office should have closed half an hour ago.
The large man glanced at his watch. “You’re right. We can’t wait any longer. Ask her to come in.”
The teenager was certain they were going to send her back and muttered, “Oh, Adonai, I cannot go back there!” When she heard her own words, she thought, Perhaps in America I should speak with Adonai in English, so she pled, “Oh, God, please help me … I cannot go back there!”
An old woman sat down next to her. “Would you like to stay in America?”
“Si!” Naomi wondered where the old woman had come from and why she had asked her such a question. She feared that the woman might not understand her, so she switched to English. “I mean, yes, I would. I would love to stay.”
The old woman smiled. “I will arrange it for you.”
Naomi gasped. Maybe God is watching out for me after all!
The small man stuck his head out of the door to the office, caught Naomi’s eye, and motioned for her to enter as he left.
When she stood, the old woman rose as well. “Say nothing,” the old woman whispered. “Let me talk.” They walked into the office together.
In seconds, Naomi and the old woman stood before the large man. He frowned. It seemed to her that the lines on his face were so deeply etched that he had never heard of the word smile. This man has the power to send me back to a life I wish never to see again, she told herself while she tried to steady her wobbly legs.
The man pointed toward the chairs, which faced his desk. “Sit down please. We have very little time.” He fixed his dark eyes on the old woman. “Since you did not answer your phone, I thought you might be done with this business.”
“You know how it is with me, Victor.” She reached into her oversized purse and handed him a sheaf of papers.
“Sí, claro.” Victor seemed to smile with relief as he replaced the girl’s official papers with the documents the woman had handed him. “Still looking for that special one, eh, Tía?”
“But of course.”
He reviewed the documents. “I see you are still using the same lawyer.”
“Yes. He is able to help me in my work.”
Victor turned his attention to Naomi. “This lady will vouch for you so you can stay here. Would you like to stay in America?”
“Sí, I would like to stay very much.” She peeked at the old woman. She looks just like mi tía Rosa, the same stark white hair, the same small frame, the same dignity of bearing, the same edge to her voice, and, I am certain, the same caring heart.