MOVE over James Bond – there is a new spy in town and his adventures are inspired by a real person.

From his recruitment into the East German secret police service to his nights of passion with women he meets on his adventures, Martin Thomas is an unusual sort of hero.

Author David Childs based the semi-fictional account, We Were No Heroes, on a man he met in Leipzig in 1989.

The Bolton-born writer and lecturer says: “The book tells about Martin’s life in the Waffen SS on the Eastern front fighting the Russians.

“He was captured and could have been killed but was rescued by and sent back to Germany where he became part of the Stasi, the East German secret police. He also has a few romances along the way.”

David says that through the novel, he was interested to explore why people make seemingly bad life choices.

“When we do things we don’t always know why,” he says. “We’re influenced by people and events rather than making a conscious choice. I wanted to explore that.”

The Stasi are a subject that David is very familiar with, having spent his professional life studying them.

“Most of my life has been spent studying Germany, particularly East Germany, and the book was a result of the people I’d met and experiences I’d had behind the Iron Curtain, and finding out about my own Stasi file.”

David, who is 76 and lives in Nottingham, travelled extensively to East Germany in the years when the Stasi were active as research for his work as a Professor of German Politics at the University of Nottingham.

After they were disbanded, David applied to see any files that may have been kept on him, and was shocked by the extent to which they had documented his life.

“It seemed that everywhere I went and opened my mouth they had someone there listening,” he says. “I expected it when I was in East Germany, but you wouldn’t have thought that when you went to Bradford University there would be someone there recording you and sending reports.”

We Were No Heroes is available from David’s website, and can be ordered from Waterstones.