For six long years, Casey Donovan was truly, madly, deeply in love with a ghost called Campbell.
He was tall, well-built, charming, part-Aboriginal, with a ‘six-pack to die for’ and ‘a smile that would melt your heart’.
Insecure, overweight Casey, who had just shot to fame as the 16-year-old winner of Australian Idol, could hardly believe he was interested in her.
She had never had a boyfriend and was always left on the sidelines at blue light discos, where she stocked up on mixed lollies and cans of soft drink until it was time to go home.
‘I wasn’t pretty. I was fat. I always said the wrong things and made a fool of myself,’ recalls the feisty, confident Big, Beautiful and Sexy star of today. ‘What on earth could he see in me?’
Yet suddenly, this ‘gorgeous’ stranger really seemed to care.
They chatted on the phone, swapped secrets, talked dirty, gave each other gifts - even got engaged.
The only thing they never did was actually meet each other face to face.
Astonishingly, six years down the track, Casey discovered that Campbell was a cruel lie.
The cute, but curiously elusive, Sydney IT worker never existed - but was the bizarre creation of a person she considered to be her best female friend, named Olga.
‘Was I mad? Yes, I think so,’ admits Casey, who reveals the sad truth about her imaginary lover - and the stalker who invented him - in a blisteringly frank new autobiography.
‘How could it go on for so long. How could I be so stupid? I think it’s because I was so vulnerable that finding someone who was interested in me made me feel on top of the world.
‘I loved that he loved me, yeah. I had never had a boyfriend and it was something I was longing for. I believed everything and I was hopeful and...I was groomed very well.
Casey Donovan: Big, Beautiful and Sexy (New Holland, $22.95) on sale March 1.