Ross Kemp is to become a novelist after signing a new publishing deal.

The ex-EastEnders star has specialised in making documentaries about the military and gang culture since leaving the soap and his fiction debut will tap into his knowledge in the area.

Devil To Pay, which is to be published in July, is set in Afghanistan and London and revolves around former soldier Nick Kane.

It will be the first in a series of books featuring Kane.

Ross follows his former Albert Square co-star Martine McCutcheon into the world of fiction. She published her debut last year, but faced some unflattering reviews.

His novel is the first step in a new publishing deal with Random House which was announced on Friday. He had previously worked with Penguin for the spin-offs from his TV shows.

The second title in his three-book deal with Random companies Century and Arrow will be a non-fiction project in October, with a further novel to follow next year.

Ben Dunn, publishing director of Century, said: “I am delighted that Ross is joining the Century list, I’m a huge fan of his bestselling books and thrilling documentary work for Sky.

“He has an incredible passion and insider knowledge of the military, and his foray into fiction promises to be very exciting indeed.”

Ross, 45, said: “Ben has shown great understanding of who I am and where I’m coming from and he’s shown a lot of faith in commissioning both my fiction and non-fiction. I’m thrilled to be moving and I’m looking forward to a long and fruitful career with Century and Arrow.”