I had written two Dear Canada books, so when Scholastic decided to do a new series called I Am Canada, I told them I'd be interested in writing one of those as well. As I was thinking about what to write, my friend Perry Nodelman sent me a link to a story with the comment that he thought it might be of interest to me. Was it ever! The story was about 168 World War II airmen who were shot down over France, captured by the Germans, imprisoned in Paris and then, instead of being sent to a prisoner of war camp, shipped off to a concentration camp.
As I researched the story, I was quite overwhelmed by the bravery of the young men who flew missions, knowing that the odds of them returning to base safely were slim. I marvelled at their courage. I was very fortunate to have the help of one veteran in particular, John Harvie. He, more than anyone, helped me to understand what it really felt like to be a young flyer.
When he and the others returned home after the war, no one believed that they had been at Buchenwald Concentration Camp, so they stopped telling people. It is only now that the true story is coming out. Behind Enemy Lines is based on true events and I hope it gives a realistic account of what these young men endured for our sakes.