One of the earliest sections written in what eventually became Lockdown was a story set in Papua New Guinea. I spent some months there in late 1970s, on my honeymoon (because yes, what else do academics do for a honeymoon than go visit a Stone Age community?) which makes for one of those illustrations that a writer never knows what odd elements of her past will find their way into a book.
For example, the sing-sing
and the pig kill to celebrate a bride price ceremony
and the salt ponds, where logs are soaked in a saline pond in order to harvest the salty ash, and where a waitpela comes to grief in the story.
As proof of my travel, here I am in a motorized dugout canoe on the Sepik River
and admiring a Bird of Paradise in a sanctuary:
I had a Pidgin teacher named Yasmin—that’s my husband in a shirt my mother made him, a rainbow embroidered across the back.
Later, that same cottage, with a rainbow of its own.
And although this isn’t an Air Niugini flight, it is very like the tiny airplane Linda met when she flew up into there mission in the highlands.
Yep: a person never knows what from her past will come back when a story begins.
Which, come to think of it, is pretty much what Lockdown is all about.
You can get Lockdown in paper now from your local Independent bookshop; Barnes & Noble; or Amazon.