After finding out that it would take at least two and a half years to get her book published, Karen Millie-James decided to set up her very own company, King of the Road Publishing, in Borehamwood.

Almost four months later, she has produced her first book, The Shadows Behind Her Smile, and has been touring book stores in and around Watford to do signings.

"Finding an agent and getting your book published is virtually impossible," says the 61-year-old, who grew up in Ruislip before moving to Bushey in 1980. "I originally sent my novel off to about 20 different agents and although I did get an agent, after about six months it didn't really work out. It was an incredibly slow process and I thought I'm not going to wait that long."

Karen, who now lives in Chesham but is intending to move back to Radlett soon, set up international business agency KHCS Consultants Limited more than 20 years ago - so setting up a publishing company, which cost her roughly £15,000 was "fairly easy" she admits.

"The challenge was then putting together the infrastructure, which took time," says Karen. "I phoned around continuously to get someone to print it, wholesale it and distribute it. Eventually I got two of the top wholesalers and distributors to take it on. It’s been a lot of hard work."

The mother of one originally started writing her novel as an autobiography, but ran out of things to say so turned it into a novel.

The Shadows Behind Her Smile follows a strong female protagonist, Cydney Granger, who is an expert in corporate forensics. She also has a special gift, she gets premonitions about the future - and receives one about her husband who is in the Special Forces, allegedly dying. Cydney also uses her gift to investigate two separate cases.

"It is a novel about a strong businesswoman who succumbs to tragedy in her life. To become successful she’s faced with different obstacles from bringing up two young children to succeeding in the business world," explains Karen.

"I have interwoven several different stories into it - the chapters don’t quite reach an end, and the following chapter doesn’t always follow on from the previous one… so you have to wait a few chapters later to find out how that scene ends. There are several narratives that all interweave."

Karen, who has always been an avid fan of crime thriller and adventure books says that there parts of the novel that she has drawn from real life and her own experiences.

"My mum had Alzheimer’s and so does Cydney's. Her father died when she was 12 and the same thing happened to me. You write about what you know - obviously I know all about the corporate world because that’s the sort of business that I run. It's only the attempted murder, fraud and insider dealings that I didn't know that much about of course."

The entrepreneur, who's inspirational author is Wilbur Smith, also added her late father was always the inspiration behind much of what she has done. "He always inspired me and encouraged me to do well in everything. My dad is my original and ultimate inspiration as he survived a lot as well – he escaped from Germany on the Kinderstransport in 1939. He was a survivor."

Karen Millie-James will be signing copies of her book at WH Smiths, Intu Watford, High Street, Watford on August 29. Details: