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April 3, 2011

Judge turns bedtime stories into book series

PERU — As a father, Miami Circuit Court Judge Robert Spahr used to combine his imagination and daily interactions with people to create bedtime stories to entertain his two young boys.

Spahr, an Indianapolis native who has resided in Peru since 1979, would share with his sons, Timothy and Anthony, the stories of two boys — the forest-living Torto Elkentorch and his urban buddy, Lyle Bandercoot, who were under threat from a nearby empire.

Though he never had any stories written down to read to the boys, Spahr would encourage his sons to read and investigate on their own.

That was in the mid-1980s, and Timothy and Anthony Spahr are now grown men working as lawyers in Peru. But they still fondly recall the stories their father used to tell them.

“I can’t speak for my brother, but I know, when he would read to us, I would want him to keep going. I didn’t want him to stop,” said Anthony, now 31 years old. “It really had an impact on me.”

Yet even all these years later, the boys’ fantasy-adventure tales are still having an impact for the Spahr family, as they have recently spawned several books and perhaps a movie.

Following years of encouragement from his wife, Nancy, Spahr wrote down the first words of a book about Torto’s adventures on Sept. 6, 2006.

Now, for two hours every night, Spahr writes stories that have been in his head all those years. He said he still draws inspiration from people and events he encounters during his days in the courtroom.

“Rob’s books capture much of his own personality and experiences,” said Nancy. “He draws from his own childhood experiences and knowledge of history, adding elements from his vivid imagination and value system. It amazes me how he ties characters and events together between the books.

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