When my daughter was one year old, my husband and I went to live in Nepal. We had gone to support the work of a local health and development organisation and ended up living in the city of Pokhara, west of Kathmandu, for five years. We were there in a challenging, yet important period of time for Nepal as they experienced the end of the civil war and their revolution. We had arrived in the Kingdom of Nepal and left the Republic of Nepal. It was a privilege to have been there at that time.
I have many, many treasured memories of our years in Nepal and made some life long friends. You cannot live in a place like Nepal without being changed by it, without it lodging in your heart. And for myself as a writer, it obviously had an impact on what I wrote.
One of the things I began writing about and researching while we lived in Nepal was the stories of people who had been trafficked. Human trafficking occurs all over the world, an exploitation of the most vulnerable, and the situation in Nepal is no exception. Every year, thousands of people are trafficked from Nepal into situations of slavery around the world. But although there are many, many stories, they are not all the same. Each person has family, has friends, has dreams and hopes that trafficking snatches away. And when - or if - they are able to escape the situations of slavery they'd experienced, it can take incredible courage to piece lives back together, to face the stigma of the lives they'd been forced to live and to learn to hope again.
The more stories I heard, the more I read about in the local paper, the more I knew I wanted to write a novel that addressed these issues. And so I began writing a novel about two young Nepali girls who are trafficked into the brothels of Mumbai, and the one that is given the chance to escape. Although the novel is entirely fictional, it is based on the stories I heard and read about, and also on the real love for Nepal that I caught while living there.
This novel - for older readers - will be published by Wombat Books' Rhiza Press imprint mid 2018.