Tonight I went to a book launch for Sacrifice by Joanna Orwin.
Orwin started off by saying that the genesis for the novel was a visit to Easter Island. She was struck by the fact that the moai face inland (“inward looking”) rather than out to sea (“outward looking”). This was something I could relate to, having been struck by the same thing myself. She also found Easter Island a sad place, because of the ecological devastation wrought on the island by its inhabitants. This got her thinking about how societies collapse, and about the rise-and-collapse pattern civilizations tend to follow. She did a lot of reading on the subject (“And remember, this was 2008, before the financial collapse.”) She was also inspired by the Rapa Nui people reinventing themselves as a Polynesian society.
She wrote the book while on a six-month residency at Otago University in 2009. It is set in a post-apocalyptic NZ and Pacific. One part of the book involves an ocean voyage undertaken in a moki – a Maori reed raft. While researching the subject she was having trouble finding anyone who knew much about mokis. A chance conversation revealed the existence of a film shot fifteen years before showing a kaumatua actually building one on the shore at Moeraki. She managed to track down the footage through a search engine she had access to as part of her residency. While claiming to be a technophobe, she was clearly chuffed with how easy it was to locate such resources using computers.
The book sounds interesting, and I’m looking forward to reading it.