Abilene's NPR Station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Local Author Rejoices In Picture Books

The storybook capital of Texas has a new local author to celebrate- Abilene author Penny Parker Klostermann’s new children’s book, “There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight,” goes on sale nationally today.

Klostermann said she was shocked Random House bought her first book when most writers work for decades before having a book published.  Her circumstances are especially unusual because writing is an endeavor picked up in retirement. She taught physical education for 26 years, almost all of that time was at Jim Ned.

Klostermann always loved children’s books but her passion for them grew when she would hear other teachers reading to students as she gathered kids for physical education class.

“I love picture books and I’m not saying I’ll never venture away from that genre but I love the marriage of the text and the illustrations, to me it’s its own form of art,” Klostermann said. “I’m 60 years old and I’m in love with picture books”

On any given week she has between 25 and 40 children’s books checked out from the library. She reads them for pure enjoyment but she also wants to learn what kinds of books are popular in the market. 

Apart from reading all the books she can from her genre, she doesn’t follow any strict rules or routines when she writes.

“I’m kind of a fly by the seat of my pants writer, I don’t plan, I just have a story idea, and I sit down and write it,” Klostermann said.  “I tend to do a lot of self-editing as I go so sometimes it does take a while to get my first draft down on paper.”

Photo by Krazer Marketing

Out of her six manuscripts, Random House has bought two. Klostermann has learned to accept rejections and use them to her advantage.

Be ready for rejections, it’s part of the game,” Klostermann said.  “But rejections can lead to a lot of good revisions if you’ll just be open to it and not be defensive.”

Her editor chose British artist Ben Mantle to illustrate her book.

“She [editor] did a superior job,” Klostermann said. “I couldn’t be more happy about the illustrations, he just did awesome, awesome work.”

Klostermann dedicated the book to her parents. Her mother is fond of decorative chickens, she has over 700 artistic chickens at home and to Klostermann’s surprise, one of the illustrations contains a chicken.

“I didn’t ask for that, I had no idea it would be there so I thought that was a fun little detail,” Klostermann said.

She said her parents are overjoyed by the book’s success. Klostermann has also received a lot of support from the Abilene community. She loves that her first book will be released in a city that honors children’s books with the Children’s Art and Literacy Festival.

“I love the fact that I can picture a kid in a parent or grandparent or just any adult's lap, reading this book together,” Klostermann said.