I was born in London and raised in an orphanage until I was ten. At 18, with the UK in an economic slump, I joined the Royal Marines to get away from the city. The plan was to do three years and return to civvy street to find a career for myself. But a series of extraordinary events saw me leave the Commando Training Centre a week after I had been awarded my green beret to attend the Special Boat Service selection course. I was 19 years old. Out of 147 men only 9 passed the course. I was one of them, becoming the youngest member of British Special Forces at that time. The SBS, faced with a neophyte in their employ, immediately sent me away to gain combat experience and I spent much of the next 3 years alongside the SAS. There followed a 3 year secondment to UK Military Intelligence’s top secret 14th Intelligence Detachment. On my return to the SBS I joined the maritime anti terrorist unit where I spent time working alongside US Navy SEALs.

On leaving the SBS, after 11 years, I became a civilian ‘security specialist’. While on my way to South America to get involved in Kidnap & Ransom cases I stopped off in Los Angeles for a few months. While there I wrote a screenplay, which was purchased by Warner Brothers thus kicking off my writing career. I made a living as a Hollywood screenwriter for some 13 years. After 911 I returned to the UK to spend the next 15 years risk managing various News Networks operating in challenging conflict zones such as Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and many parts of Africa. By then I had written my autobiography, First Into Action, and followed that up with a series of fiction books based on my adventures and the characters I encountered.

Frequently asked questions:

Q: Do you write your own books or do you have a ghost writer?

A: When I was asked to write my auto biography I hired a professional writer. But after reading the first chapter I decided I could do better and wrote it all myself from the very beginning. I was surprised when the publisher then asked if I would like to write a novel. I have created and written all of my books.

Q: How much of Stratton is based on you?

A: I'd love to be as cool as Stratton but alas I'm not. When writing characters it's a good idea to base them on someone real so that you always have a reference. I chose myself for Stratton just to keep track of certain traits and background.

Q: Most scary moment?

A: In Liberia during the war, driving into a checkpoint on a jungle road manned by 10 to 16 year old boys armed with AK47s, most of them drunk and high on weed. I was unarmed and had to find a good reason for them not to shoot me. It took me around 20 minutes and even then I didn't believe I had escaped execution until they were out of sight in my rearview mirror.

Q: What type of person makes it into SF?

People who are tenacious, very fit, can be single minded and manage pain, exhaustion and stress. I'm thinking of the main things that will get a person through the selection process.

Q: Did your underprivileged upbringing have an impact on your resilience?

A: I think it's true that people who have had a soft upbringing might find joining special forces a greater challenge than those who have had a tougher upbringing. For instance, South African boys who move to the UK and join Special Forces have a far higher pass rate than British boys.

Q: Your autobiography is full of humour - why, when the job was so serious?

A: I'm naturally a humorous type but being a Royal Marine only enhanced that. You won't need to hang around a bunch of bootnecks for long before laughing at something one of them says or does.

Q: Military or civilian life - which have you enjoyed the most?

A: Military life was filled with fun and excitement and I'll never have such mates or laughs. But nothing can beat a lovely wife and wonderful children and the journey through life together.