Cantabrian Peter Fry has drawn on his experiences - fascinating and horrific - as an army officer and United Nations military observer in the Middle East. for his first novel. Ladder to the Moon takes place mainly on the Israel-Lebanon border in the 1970s - an unusual setting for a love story. But this is where his protagonist John Ferris, a New Zealand Army captain serving as a UN military observer, meets Leila. Her Palestinian family had been dispossessed during the bitter fighting in the Arab-Israeli war of 1967. Lynn Freeman talks to Peter about his experiences.