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

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to an enhancement or regression of democracy on the Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlies her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents 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.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

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

All About America

AppleAndroid