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Indianapolis lawyer wins national book prize

Dave Stafford
October 10, 2016
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An Indianapolis attorney has won a prestigious national book award for his debut novel “The Drum of Destiny,” a work of historical fiction for young readers set around the American Revolution.

Wilson Kehoe Winingham attorney Chris Stevenson was presented the 2016 Grateful American Book Prize on Oct. 6 at the Library of Congress in Washington. His tale of an orphaned 12-year-old patriot who escapes a house of loyalists to join the fight for the nation’s independence is written primarily for children in grades 4-7.

“It’s not every day you get a dinner in your honor at the Library of Congress,” Stevenson said Monday. “It’s pretty amazing to be selected.”

Founded by author and publisher David Bruce Smith and former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities Bruce Cole, the Grateful American Book Prize was established in 2015 to recognize outstanding works of historical fiction for young readers and to promote history education. The prize includes a $13,000 cash award in honor of the 13 original American colonies.

Stevenson said he was inspired to write the book by his five sons and because he felt there was little storytelling aimed at young readers about the time period around the nation’s founding. Years ago, he began telling his boys bedtime stories from the Revolutionary period about a boy named Gabriel Cooper, which became the inspiration for “The Drum of Destiny.”

“For me, it’s one of the most transformative periods of time not just for our nation but for the entire world,” Stevenson said. “These were relatively untrained soldiers who decided to stand up to the most powerful empire in the world. … It’s one of those things I wanted my kids and hopefully other kids to learn about the freedom that we have, and why did we want to do it.”  

An associate whose practice focuses on aviation and product liability litigation, Stevenson said he worked late at night on the book for about a year, but getting his first book published proved a daunting task. He hired an agent and said it took three or four years and many rejections before publisher Capstone Young Readers was sold on the project.

He said young readers can learn much from historical fiction that doesn’t always come through in fact-bound history textbooks. “It’s not only able to give you facts but also help you understand why things happened, how they happened and the personal stories behind the facts they’re reading about.”

While the book is targeted for readers primarily in grades 4-7, Stevenson said he also envisioned this as a book that adults also would read, either for themselves or to their children.

Stevenson said “The Drum of Destiny” is the opening salvo in a series of five novels that will trace the colonial-era adventures of young Gabriel as he grows during the quest for independence. He said the second volume in the series has been completed but a release date has not been set.
 

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  1. From his recent appearance on WRTV to this story here, Frank is everywhere. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy, although he should stop using Eric Schnauffer for his 7th Circuit briefs. They're not THAT hard.

  2. They learn our language prior to coming here. My grandparents who came over on the boat, had to learn English and become familiarize with Americas customs and culture. They are in our land now, speak ENGLISH!!

  3. @ Rebecca D Fell, I am very sorry for your loss. I think it gives the family solace and a bit of closure to go to a road side memorial. Those that oppose them probably did not experience the loss of a child or a loved one.

  4. If it were your child that died maybe you'd be more understanding. Most of us don't have graves to visit. My son was killed on a state road and I will be putting up a memorial where he died. It gives us a sense of peace to be at the location he took his last breath. Some people should be more understanding of that.

  5. Can we please take notice of the connection between the declining state of families across the United States and the RISE OF CPS INVOLVEMENT??? They call themselves "advocates" for "children's rights", however, statistics show those children whom are taken from, even NEGLIGENT homes are LESS likely to become successful, independent adults!!! Not to mention the undeniable lack of respect and lack of responsibility of the children being raised today vs the way we were raised 20 years ago, when families still existed. I was born in 1981 and I didn't even ever hear the term "CPS", in fact, I didn't even know they existed until about ten years ago... Now our children have disagreements between friends and they actually THREATEN EACH OTHER WITH, "I'll call CPS" or "I'll have [my parent] (usually singular) call CPS"!!!! And the truth is, no parent is perfect and we all have flaws and make mistakes, but it is RIGHTFULLY OURS - BY THE CONSTITUTION OF THIS GREAT NATION - to be imperfect. Let's take a good look at what kind of parenting those that are stealing our children are doing, what kind of adults are they producing? WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS TO THE CHILDREN THAT HAVE BEEN RIPPED FROM THEIR FAMILY AND THAT CHILD'S SUCCESS - or otherwise - AS AN ADULT.....

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