Lockdown & New Guinea

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.


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  1. Karen Buys on August 2, 2018 at 10:07 am

    I loved this book. I think it was the celebration of community and the way the individual lives intersected that made it so meaningful for me.

  2. Jen on August 7, 2018 at 1:26 am

    Thanks for sharing your trip to PNG, Ms King. I also went to a less than usual location for my honeymoon- to Sri Lanka, and one day dream of visiting PNG which is quite close to my Australian home. I feel like your experience there is quite similar to my awareness of the place even though I’ve never been there. The background of the characters you gave in Lockdown, especially if Gordon, was my favourite part of the book and I’d gladly read a whole book about him and Linda.

    • Laurie King on August 7, 2018 at 3:27 am

      In fact, PNG was the equivalent of a honeymoon for me. Isn’t that what academics do?
      Glad you liked the story, and I agree, it would be fun to do a Gordon-and-Linda story.

  3. Lana Kamennof-Sine on August 19, 2018 at 2:28 pm

    I think Gordon & Linda would have potential for a variety of future stories…I certainly am curious to know more. But that’s the joy of your characters…imagine the stories of the lives of the children. We’re they able to sustain their positivity? What about Bee…pragmatic reality or fantasy? Fascinating to consider the possibilities.

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