My great-grandfather was born in Langenbielau, Silesia in 1900, and his parents brought him to the US in 1908. (The town is now Bielawa, Poland.) In eighth grade, I had to choose a foreign language to learn. I went with German, partly on a whim, partly because I wanted to get in touch with my roots. I liked it, and I kept it up through high school. I double majored in chemistry and German in college, and I spent my junior year in Marburg, Germany.
I got tired of seeing Germans (and obvious German analogues) being the villains in American media, so I decided I wanted to write stories about Germans being the heroes, or at least ambiguously good people, as most people actually are, after all.