July 24, 2015
Today we are pleased to continue author Penny Parker Klostermann's blog tour for her debut picture book, THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT. This is not the first you will hear of her--she has another picture book coming out in 2017. To follow her blog tour click here.
Be sure to enter her giveaway for a free copy of her book at the end of this interview!
Tell us about your background and how you became a writer.
When I was in eighth grade, I announced I wanted to be a Physical Education teacher because I loved PE and all kinds of games and sports. That is exactly what I did for the bulk of my twenty-six years as a teacher. In teaching elementary PE, my goal was to foster a love for activity in all kids, not just the athletes. This was a wonderful creative outlet and I guess you could consider it my early “writing.” I had games based on picture books, Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, Beauty and the Beast, and more. For instance, we built our own Jurassic Park. The kids brought their art supplies and we turned the gym into a dinosaur-filled jungle with games galore. In essence the games were my story and the students were my characters. I finished my career teaching elementary computer. I was able to bring creativity to this curriculum, too.
Being in an elementary setting, I was around picture books. I hadn’t read many since I was a child but sometimes I’d hear the end of one when picking up students for PE/Computer. Eventually one teacher in particular shared her favorites because I’d commented on some she was reading. As I read the ones she’d suggested, I began to fall in love with them and I wondered about how one would go about getting published. That led me to SCBWI. Some years later I decided I’d give it a go and after lots of learning and hard work, here I am.
Could you tell us a little bit about your picture book, THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT?
THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT is the tale of an ornery dragon whose manners are somewhat medieval. He’s off on a swallowing spree until he has finally had enough and takes matters into his own hands. That leads him to his happy ending.
How did you get the inspiration for the book?
My desire to write a cumulative tale took me on the search for the perfect MC. After dismissing several MCs who just weren’t hungry enough, I headed over to Tara Lazar’s (of PiBoIdMo fame!) website and opened her list of 500+ Things That Kids Like and found my dragon. He had a story to tell and I was happy to write it down.
KidLit411 Note: Be sure to join Tara Lazar's PiBoIdMo challenge that takes place every November. Click here to find out more about her challenge.
When is your next project due out?
A COOKED UP FAIRY TALE will be out Spring 2017 from Random House Children’s Books. In this fairy tale mashup, a well-meaning chef accidentally cooks with ingredients essential to famous stories (Snow White's apple, Jack's magic beans, Cinderella's pumpkin).
Ben Mantle will be illustrating it, too. I’m so happy about that.
What is your typical process for writing?
I’m a fly-by-the-seat of my pants writer. I come up with an idea—a phrase, a character, a concept—and start writing. The story seems to find a path. The path changes a lot over the course of my draft. I’m sure I could write my drafts quicker if I’d do some planning but planning seems to squelch my creativity. So I’ve accepted the fact that this is my creative process, at least for now. One thing I do that could be considered planning is I paste research at the bottom of all my WIPs. For this book, it was medieval research. For A COOKED UP FAIRY TALE, it was fairy tale and cooking research. The research inspires me and helps guide my story.
My process includes a lot of non-writing writing, too. This is the time away from my laptop where my mind can wander and find a missing obstacle or a humorous phrase or a new ending. This takes place on walks, in the shower, at the grocery store, in my car, etc.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
I know they hear this all the time but . . . Read, read, read! And then read some more. Reading current books in the genre you wish to write is key to understanding the genre. The knowledge you’ll absorb from reading will be invaluable as you write.
Also, find a good critique group. If you don’t know how to critique, find one anyway. I’d never critiqued a story in my life before joining my critique group but you have to start somewhere. There are resources that can help you earn to critique. Click HERE for a link to a nice source created by Alayne Kay Christian.
Where can people find you on the Internet?
What is one thing people don't know about you?
I can tinikle with the best of them. Just in case you read that wrong, it does not say “tinkle.” That wouldn’t be so special now would it? In case you don’t know what tinikling is, read this from Wikipedia: “The dance involves two people beating, tapping, and sliding bamboo poles on the ground and against each other in coordination with one or more dancers who step over and in between the poles in a dance.” I taught tinikling to my elementary PE students so I had to know the ins and outs. HERE is a video in case you’ve never seen tinikling.
Penny Parker Klostermann is the author of There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight. She loves all kinds of books, but especially loves very silly picture books that make her laugh. She has been known to hug her favorite picture books and seriously hopes that someday her books will gain huggable status too. Penny lives in Abilene, TX. Find out more about Penny on her website-https://www.pennyklostermann.com.