A former north-east soldier is to publish a book he wrote while under attack in Iraq.
Father-of-three Sean Beech, whose work will be unveiled next week, said he started writing as a form of escapism.
The medic said the project took his mind off the mortar attacks, sniping and bomb assaults that were a routine part of active service.
The former Kemnay Academy pupil said: “I actually started the book during my second tour, when I was attached to an infantry company. It was my form of escapism, a way of coping and taking my mind off everything that was going on in Basra.
“It was a bit of a hotspot. The young lads were writing home a lot, we all were, then I started filling pads of paper with a story.”
The Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps corporal spent his evenings producing the fantasy story, The Ice Crown, which will be published on Monday.
The Lord of the Rings-style fantasy is already tipped to become a bestseller. One book collector has ordered a stack of signed copies, while a personalised copy put up on eBay for charity has already attracted bids of £80.
The publishers have been so impressed by the imaginative tale, they have signed up the Elgin-born 38-year-old to complete a trilogy around his Lords of the Moon characters.
Mr Beech, who was brought up at Kintore, said: “For a debut novel, the reaction has been fantastic.
“Reading it again brought back those months in Basra. I immediately decided that I wanted 50% of all profits from all three books to go to the National Literacy Trust.”
He now works part-time as an accident and emergency nurse with his local hospital near Winchester, in Hampshire, and plans to become a teacher.
Mr Beech, who regularly visits family in the north-east, said: “I am still writing, and nearly finished my second book now.”
The Ice Crown is published by Melrose Books, priced £13.99 in hardback, and will be available in leading bookstores. Further details and orders are available online at www.melrosebooks.com