What has been the defining event of your life?

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I was a 1980s workaholic London woman, getting somewhere with my career in book publishing, when I had a romantic encounter with a reporter from Sri Lanka. He wasn't interested, and it hit a vulnerable spot; so I signed up to write to a little boy in a remote, beautiful area of Sri Lanka through a charity (the charity put my money towards well-building projects).

I never knew where the boy lived (data protection), but we began to form a bond. But the civil war on the Asian island meant that the writing had to cease, and I wasn't even allowed to write to say goodbye.

The start of this relationship turned into the defining point of my life because, as it turned out, I never found a longlasting partner or had children. Years later, I went with my mother to try to find the boy while on a holiday. The charity promised to try to help me track him down, but failed - until, they claimed, just after I'd left for the island: I came home to an answerphone message that they had found him after all and he and his family were waiting eagerly for me. By then, of course, it was too late.

I've looked for him since, with the benefit of the internet and still more visits, but there's no trace. In my grief at not having a family I've turned this into a novel. My last guide in Sri Lanka however suggested that he may never even have existed: that he may have been a useful ruse on the part of the charity.

So my contact with 'my' boy has become symbolic of my childlessness, but also the reason for the wonderful therapy of writing.

'On the Far Side, There's a Boy' is the title of my novel. It's my baby, and I'm so proud that it's finally coming out.

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