Harry Pearson has produced five books, contributed to a dozen more, written a weekly sports column in the Guardian for ten years and helped make the football magazine When Saturday Comes half-decent for nearly two decades. When not painting toy soldiers, building a Wild West town in 1/72 scale or feverishly trying to work out how many more Macedonian phalangites he needs to finish before he can restage the Battle of the Granicus, he spends his time staring wistfully into space wondering where the years have gone. He lives in Northumberland. Contrary to all previous assertions, he does not own a spinet.

What are you doing at the moment?

Writing a book about the countryside, a somewhat belated follow up to Racing Pigs & Giant Marrows, my book on agricultural shows, watching DVDs of Deadwood and painting lots of 20mm English Civil War cavalry.

When did you get hooked on history and why?

My father used to paint 54mm figures and so there were always lots of uniform books about when I was a boy. I used to spend hours looking through one called Military Uniforms of the World, trying to pick my favourite which I think was some kind of Venezuelan hussar from the 1820s. The first military history book I read was Washing of the Spears by Donald Morris, this would be when I was 12 or so and in the wake of going to see Zulu at the local fleapit with my Dad for the sixth time.

If you were any warrior from history who would you be?

Well, obviously I\'d like to think Hannibal or Alexander, but in truth I\'d probably be more like Darius - enjoying luxury and the company of beautiful women and running away at the first sign of danger.

What is your favourite war film?

The Duellists with Harvey Keitel.

Why do you think Military History is important?

For better or worse war is what\'s shaped our world - particularly in Europe.
I think history per se is important because it has lessons for the present.
Don\'t loiter in Afghanistan being one of them.

What is your favourite quote from history/historical quote?

“I am like a man clutching the horns of a rampaging bull: I have no wish to hold on, but I am too frightened to let go” Abraham Lincoln. He was talking about the Civil War, but it seems a fair summary of life itself to me.

If you could fly any plane or drive any tank from history, which would it

I\'d like to fly a Fairey Swordfish. My uncle Randolph was in the Fleet Air Arm and flew them off the Ark Royal at Taranto and Oran.

Best military cock-up in history?

The Maginot Line.

Who is your military hero?

My uncle John. He was a journalist on the Middlesbrough Evening gazette when WW2 started, trained as a fighter pilot in Canada, flew Spitfires over the Western Desert and in Europe and declared missing presumed dead after he failed to return from a mission over southern Belgium shortly after D Day.

If you could pit two armies from history against each other, which two would you pick, and why?

Alexander the Great and his Macedonians against the Legions of Julius Caesar. A clash of giant egos and chance once and for all to find if the two sides were as good as they were cracked up to be.

Elephants or horses? Discuss the pros and cons...

As a wargamer I\'d have to go with elephants because: they are more fun to paint; everybody likes to command them; their erratic behaviour on the tabletop provides hours of fun.

Favourite Michael Caine quote?

I should say something from Zulu, but the thing that actually springs to mind is the scene in Woody Allen\'s Hannah and her Sisters when he quotes the EE Cumming\'s poem “no one/not even the rain/has such tiny hands”. Very lovely.

What is your favourite war comic?

I used to like Victor for Boys. Though probably my favourite war-related comic strip was General Jumbo, featuring Jumbo Johnson the boy with the radio controlled army. My but I would have loved to have got my hands on that when I was ten. Or indeed now.

Spartan or Roman?

Roman. Rome was great civilization; Sparta was a half-baked military state - the ancient world\'s answer to East Germany.

What is your favourite Osprey book?

The late Angus McBride\'s MAA on The Zulu War. I still have the copy I bought when it first came out, the cover liberally dotted with the Humbrol red gloss I used for the coats on my Jacklex British infantry.