By: Gary Farrow
Shoshana Sachi has just published The Way of the River, focusing on religious extremism, existentialism and the relationships between fathers and sons.
Shoshana was born in Malaysia, grew up in New Zealand and now lives in the United States, having completed a Masters of Fine Arts in Screenwriting at the University of California, Los Angeles.
It’s been a long road in Shoshana’s art to get to where she is now.
“I’ve been writing since I was four years old,” she said.
“Very short things with very bad spelling, but it was a compulsion.
“I wrote letters and poems and short stories all day when I wasn’t coming up with weird worlds and characters in my head – I was an only child. It wasn’t just a hobby, but something that felt natural.”
Shoshana was cynical as a child, making friends with the monster under the bed, being intrigued by death and always questioning.
That carried on into adulthood and led her to develop a huge interest in the human psyche and the resulting relationships. A lot of that is embodied in her novel.
“The Way of the River is, at its heart, about a father and son.
And it’s about how abuse in families can continue from generation to generation, how that anger and rage can persist,” Shoshana told Hamilton News.
“It’s about how so-called insignificant actions can cause lasting pain, and play lasting havoc on a person’s psyche. How words can imprint themselves on a child’s brain.”
The novel also focuses on a dozen other characters, dealing with the way in which people have grown, both before and after the apocalypse.
“Because psychology is so interesting to me, I also enjoyed seeing how characters changed when all sense of law and justice was stripped away, and when death was suddenly an everyday thing – something that could happen at every moment,” Shoshana said.
“What would happen to people when suddenly nothing they did really mattered? What happens when you lose everything and have nothing to lose? Do people decide to do good or do worse? There are demons in the book, literally, but the book is also about inner demons. Our lead character is 18, and is thrust forward on a quest to discover himself, and to decide what kind of man he wants to be.”
On the subject of the Waikato River holding a core position in the novel, Shoshana believed it chose her, rather than her choosing it.
“That being said, I write what I know,” she said.
“I spent 15 years of my life in Hamilton, and saw the Waikato River everyday. I also spent a year working at the local museum, which was like deep diving into the history and culture of the place.
“It sparked a lot of it. It’s a beautiful, natural place. Why not?
“We see post-apocalyptic stories in cities all the time. We see it in America all the time. What if it happened in New Zealand?”
Shoshana described the experience of living in Los Angeles as “incredible”.
While it has been tough and required hard work, she has achieved her dream of completing her Masters of Fine Arts and now she’s giving Hollywood itself a go.
“The thing I love most about LA is that it’s all go, go, go.
“You have to push yourself, network, meet deadlines, work a billion jobs and have another bunch of irons in the fire – or else you lose, you drop out of the race, and that’s it,” she said.
“Everyone here is working their butts off, and that energy is palpable, chronic, catching – it makes you want to work too.”
Having spent more than two years writing The Way of the River, Shoshana is hopeful that people will understand it, connect to it and enjoy it.
“If it speaks to them, even better. If they are moved by it, awesome.
“If they are inspired by it – that’s the gold mine.”
Having studied and been passionate for screenwriting, she also would like the idea of seeing the story make it to the screen one day. In a way, it already is.
“With The Way of the River, my manager is helping me put together a team to film a short teaser for the book, which will hopefully help inspire future development for the novel to make it into a feature or TV show.
“It’s not currently under option, but I’m interested in pursuing development – though I feel strongly that it must be made in New Zealand, with New Zealand actors.”
Source: Hamilton News