News / USA

Novel Explores How People React During Natural Disasters

'Cross Currents' inspired by 2004 Asia tsunami

Author John Shors' novel, 'Cross Currents,' was inspired by the devastating tsunami that hit Thailand and other south Asian countries in 2004.
Author John Shors' novel, 'Cross Currents,' was inspired by the devastating tsunami that hit Thailand and other south Asian countries in 2004.

Multimedia

Audio
Faiza Elmasry

In August, as Hurricane Irene unleashed wind and rain along the U.S. East Coast, author John Shors found himself on a book tour, promoting his new novel, “Cross Currents,” which was inspired by the devastating tsunami that hit Thailand and other south Asian countries in 2004.

Shor's connection to Thailand began back in the early 1990s, when he graduated from college and decided to pursue his dream of backpacking in Asia. He landed a teaching job in Japan and saved money to fund the adventure, which took him from India and China to Vietnam and Thailand.

“In Thailand, a beautiful little island is called Kho Phi Phi. I just fell in love with this place," he says. "It was an absolute paradise; no roads, turquoise water, white sand, very friendly people. I just felt like I had stumbled upon one of the most beautiful places on Earth.”

Once he discovered the island, it was hard not to go back.

“I had gone back to Kho Phi Phi several times. I became more connected with the island and the Thai people and the culture. I just really loved it.”

On December 26, 2004, Shors was at his house in Colorado when images of the Indian Ocean tsunami engulfing the island flashed across the world.

“I was horrified that the island, which is only six feet above sea level, had been very, very harmed by this tsunami. Those images got me thinking about writing a novel about that day, about the tragedies and triumphs of that day.”

An estimated 230,000 people died in the tsunami, about 8,000 in Thailand. Three years later, Shors returned to the island expecting to see devastation.

“I was amazed at how much had been built. People cleaned up together. I had a lot of conversations with people who talked about how they actually survived that day and how they helped others and how they then rebuilt the island.”

Those conversations inspired "Cross Currents."

The novel centers around resort owners Lek and Sarai, who are struggling to support their children. They give Patch, a friendly young American, room and board in exchange for some work. But Lek learns that Patch has an expired visa and is on the run, so his presence now endangers Lek’s family.

Before these issues are resolved, the tsunami hits and sweeps the characters in new directions.

“One of the reason this novel is called "Cross Currents" is because it’s not just about the tsunami. It’s about people of different cultures, living together and getting to know each other and how those cultures sort of mix in together,” Shors says.

In the novel, two monstrous waves hit the island from both ends, converging in the middle. They hit while Patch is on the beach playing soccer with young Thai children. Shors wanted to examine people’s gut reaction when a natural disaster strikes.

In order to survive, he says, people need to trust and rely on each other.  

“Whether it's a tsunami in Japan or an earthquake in Pakistan or China or wherever, it really seems to bring out the best in people. Of course, Mother Nature has incredible powers, destructive powers sometimes, but we also have a power within ourselves. When we put our minds and spirit together, we can obviously accomplish wonderful things.”

The waves come and take things away, but Shors says the waves can't take everything because some things are stronger, even, than the sea.  

You May Like

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More