When I was young my Dad would build me WWII model airplanes. We’d huddle around the dinner table late at night and while gluing pieces together, Dad would tell the stories of the heroic crews who flew the planes he was building. Dad would say there was a special bond between the crew and their plane so they affectionately decorated them with pinup girls, cartoon characters or intimidating squadron insignias. Personalizing the planes also gave them hope, strength and courage, because the probability of surviving a bombing mission was very low.
I reflected upon those days when I was writing my new novel, Paper Boats. I wanted to create a heroic character that would influence Otto to keep going on his frightful journey. So I wrote up a character named Sgt. Sikora that was a waist gunner in a bomber. I love this character because he talks with Otto about the hell he lived through with excitable eyes and speaks of all the things he’s going to do when he returns to the States. Otto can’t understand the Sergeant’s happy mindset especially when hearing the Sergeant’s dismal adventures.
As for what happens to Otto? You’ll have to read the book!