Catherine Jones

I suppose in many respects I was lucky as a child because I was sent to one school at five and stayed there until I left at eighteen. Not for me the hassle of changing schools and the uncertainty of making new friends on that awful First Day. The downside to this was that it was The Queen's School, Chester, which is an all girls school and which might have influenced my decision to join the army - the ratio of men to women there being 500:1. Much more like it.

I served eight years in the army, during which time I met and married my husband, moved house countless times, got promoted to the rank of captain and did some bizarre things like Field Training Exercises and learning to fly gliders. When I fell pregnant, the rules of the time meant that I had to leave. Having begun to have children I thought I might as well crack on with the process and ended up with three kids under four and a half. Oh, and during this time we moved a further six times.

Despite everything, I was bored without a career and when I was invited to help out with a magazine for army wives I jumped at the chance. I was supposed to be helping with the admin but, before the first issue went to bed, I had already been press-ganged into writing an article. And this was the moment when I discovered I could really write, not boring old essays for history exams or briefing papers for senior officers but stuff the people wanted to read - for pleasure.

My first book I co-authored with a fellow army wife. We called it Gumboots and Pearls, self-published it (because we didn't realise the pitfalls) and despite our complete lack of knowledge about the whole publishing industry, sold an incredible 16,000 copies. After that I had the bit between my teeth and began writing in earnest. However, I decided that it was a lot easier to make stuff up than write non-fiction, which requires hard work and research. Anyway, I've always been a voracious reader and I just love those imaginary places and worlds that fiction can take you to. I was told to 'write about what you know' - so I did, which is why my first books have an army theme. Besides, hunky men in uniform have a certain attraction, or is it just me?

Since I wrote my first book a lot has changed in my life; my husband has left the army, my kids have grown up and I haven't moved in years. I also discovered the Romantic Novelists' Association which is one of the best author organisations I know for support and friendship (and parties!), but then I would say that as I was its chairman for 2 years. And anyone who thinks that romantic novelists are either pink or dim should note that our team (which I captained because it was my idea and I rang Granada) got to the grand final of 'University Challenge - the Professionals' in 2005!

Picture of the RNA team on University Challenge

Luckily, doing all this hasn't stopped me writing and just recently I've taken a new direction and have moved to Little Black Dress, for whom I write as Kate Lace.