The Year—1777. The War—The American Revolution. The Secret Weapon—Twin Boys.

Written by Robert J. Skead

My father never ceases to amaze me. Several years ago, while doing genealogy research, he discovered that we had an ancestor, Lamberton Clark, who fought in the American Revolution. My father was so pleased because it was a relative of his favorite grandfather. Soon my dad joined the Sons of the American Revolution organization and encouraged me to do the same. He showed me his membership certificate and was so proud. That’s when I told him about an idea I had for a children’s book on the American Revolution. I gave him the 30-second pitch.

“That’s really neat,” he said. “How come you never wrote it?”

“Never made time I guess,” I replied. I thought that was the end of it.

I was wrong. Three days later I received an email from my father. He attached an outline of a story based on the premise I shared with him. My dad had mapped out the plot, named a main character after Lamberton Clark who fought in the Connecticut militia and Continental Army, and planned out some key events and what characters would be thinking as they faced obstacles. I was amazed. My father was in his mid 80s. Was there nothing he couldn’t do? He wasn’t a writer. I was. But I guess he had read enough books in his lifetime that he had the concepts down. He nailed it.

For fun that night, I crafted a major portion of the first scene with action and dialogue in book format and emailed it to him. I called him and told him to check his email and grew anxious waiting for his call back. When the phone rang my pulse quickened. “This is great,” he said with an excited tone. “Keep going.”

I did. I had a goal to write a scene every few days. Of course I had to add my own ideas. Each time a scene was complete I emailed it to him. He either gave me suggested changes or his approval. I kept going week after week, scene by scene. I’d go to his house (he and my mom live next door to me and my family) and we’d discuss ideas for the story. He was always mindful of making sure the characters had integrity while still being flawed. It was the most fun I ever had writing a story” because I did it with my dad.

A few years later, Zondervan acquired the story. At age 89, my father is now an author and proof that one can always stay busy and creative in retirement. Wonderful things will happen.

We hope Patriots, Redcoats & Spies inspires children and adults to do great things and that it helps nurture a spirit of patriotism within them. And yes, my father even came up with the title.