(Such as: Andy McNab, is the pen really mightier than the sword?)

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Andy Mcnab was born in London in 1959. He attended various schools in Peckham before being convicted of breaking and entering and sent to Borstal aged 16. On his release he joined the army and was badged as a member of the 22 SAS Regiment in 1984. He worked on covert operations worldwide and during the Gulf War, commanded Bravo Two Zero, an eight-man patrol tasked with destroying communication links in Iraq. The patrol infiltrated Iraq but were soon compromised and forced to escape to Syria on foot. Three of the eight were killed and McNab was captured and tortured. McNab published his first work of fiction, Remote Control, in 1997. This was followed by Crisis Four, Firewall and his book about the operation in Iraq, Bravo Two Zero, which is the bestselling war book of all time.

Andy Mcnab was born in London in 1959. He attended various schools in Peckham before being convicted of breaking and entering and sent to Borstal aged 16. On his release he joined the army and was badged as a member of the 22 SAS Regiment in 1984. He worked on covert operations worldwide and during the Gulf War, commanded Bravo Two Zero, an eight-man patrol tasked with destroying communication links in Iraq. The patrol infiltrated Iraq but were soon compromised and forced to escape to Syria on foot. Three of the eight were killed and McNab was captured and tortured. McNab published his first work of fiction, Remote Control, in 1997. This was followed by Crisis Four, Firewall and his book about the operation in Iraq, Bravo Two Zero, which is the bestselling war book of all time.

What has been your most terrifying experience? Nicholas E Gough, Swindon Without doubt it was when I was in Iraq, within two and a half kilometres of the border and safety in Syria, when I was discovered. The border was so close, I only had a couple of hours to wait until last light and then I had the whole night to get across. I'd been hiding in a drainage culvert all day, I have no idea how they saw me. Vehicles had been driving over the top all day but then two drove over and stopped. Loads of soldiers jumped out, there was lots of firing and I was caught. And it was that initial moment of realisation that was the most terrifying thing I have ever been through.

What kept you going when you were caught by the Iraqi torture gang? Steven Holmes, by e-mail There were times when I thought I was going to die. It wasn't just being whipped, beaten and stripped but the fact that Baghdad was getting bombed every day by the Allies. I stood a very good chance of being killed by our own air force. Two things kept me going: an American pilot who had told me stories about being held for six years in Vietnam - I was held for six weeks - so in comparison it was nothing. The other thing was my daughter. I used to build fantasies in my head about watching her grow up and going bankrupt to pay for her wedding.

Aren't you tired of having to wear that black rectangle over your eyes? James Branch, by e-mail Yes. It's always tripping me over and I keep walking into lampposts. There are so many different organisations the regiment has operated against that without it I'd be presenting myself and my family as a target. It's common sense, the same security measures that were in place in the regiment. As I have no ambition to go on Parkinson or host a quiz show it seems sensible to be anonymous.

How do you feel about the way you were portrayed in the film of Chris Ryan's book, The One That Got Away? Ian Hickton, Stoke-on-Trent I wasn't happy about it, they made me look as if I just wanted to go round killing everybody. But worse was the way that some of the patrol members who were killed during the war were portrayed. It was very sad, they couldn't defend themselves and that affected their families and their kids.

What do you think of the recent SAS venture into Sierra Leone? Kate Malone, London I think it's unfortunate that one of our people died but I think it was a spectacular success. Yet again it proves that the British special forces are still the best in world. To mount an operation like that so far from home is a major deal, not many countries have the capability to do that.

What do you dream about and do you have problems sleeping at night? S McCausland, Exeter Last week I had dreams ranging from Teletubbies to the rocket attack on the MI6 building. Some people do have nightmares if they've been traumatised but I've been very lucky. When I came back from the Gulf we had a series of de-briefing sessions which helped clear my head. I could fall asleep on a washing line.

What do you think you would have been if you weren't a soldier? Susannah Heaton, by e-mail I would have drifted from job to job and landed up in prison. I wanted a lot but wasn't clever enough to do it any other way. The army got me out of that, it educated me and trained me. I thought it would just be an assault course but when I got there, they sent me straight back to school for six months because I wasn't clever enough. My first posting was to Gibraltar, I didn't even know where that was.

You went to Hollywood to advise Robert De Niro and Al Pacino. Did they listen to you? Helen Naylor, Brighton I was working with them on a film called Heat. De Niro played a bank robber and Pacino a policeman. I had to organise the robbery, the shooting and the action. It wasn't hard, De Niro is a fantastic pistol shot, a true natural, and Al Pacino loved it because he got to play around with explosives.

Is the pen really mightier than the sword? Ben Chapman, London Sometimes, but not when you're looking down the barrel of a gun - the last thing you need is a ballpoint pen.

Have you got a good recipe for a worm omelette? Mark Pinnock, by e-mail Of course. You'll need eggs, worms and lots of chilli sauce or Tabasco to hide the flavour. They taste horrible, very gritty.

What makes you cry? J B Walton, Ipswich A month after I came back from the Gulf I was in Tesco and I saw a mother slapping her five-year-old to try and get him to stop running around. I couldn't understand why, it just seemed so upsetting to me and I started crying, standing there in Tesco.

What is the most effeminate thing you've ever done? M Cuff, Leicester That's an easy one. I had a manicure on a flight coming back from the States. I stopped biting my finger nails three months ago after chewing them for 30 years. She really sorted them out. I cut my leg scratching myself because I'm not used to having such long nails. It's wonderful, I should have done it years ago.

What do you think lies at the emotional core of a tough guy? Nicholas E Gough, Swindon Certainly the opposite of how its portrayed in films. It's all about being scared like anyone else. It's about recognising your fear and learning how to control it. Once the job's over you can start shaking. Everyone is scared; they are lying if they say they're not - fear is a natural reaction. You can never get rid of the feeling of fear, but you can subdue it with experience and training.

'Firewall' by Andy McNab is published by Transworld on 12 October, priced £16.99

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