Author Interview: Steve Duno, Author of LAST DOG ON THE HILL

In celebration of my 2012 humor book, RED DOG / BLUE DOG: WHEN POOCHES GET POLITICAL (Running Press, July 2012), I am featuring interviews with other dog book writers each week. It’s very exciting to shine light on books from other writers who also share a love for canines.

This time it’s veteran pet behaviorist and author Steve Duno, who has to date authored 19 books and scores of magazine and web articles.  He has covered a wide variety of subject matter on both dogs and cats, including basic training, aggression, environmental enrichment, behavior modification, breed profiling, trick training, and pet health care. His list of recent books include The Amazing Dog Trick Kit Book (Chronicle, 2007), Last Dog On The Hill: The Extraordinary Life of Lou (St. Martin’s, 2010), and Be the Dog: Secrets of the Natural Dog Owner.

(Learn how you can support and help a new author with their book release.)

 

    

 

 

 

Currently own dogs?

Flavio, a 15 year-old GSD/Chow mix rescue who walked into our yard thirteen years ago and never left. He’s gentle and sweet and very hairy, and has bird bones.

Rico, a 5 year-old Pit/GSD mix who came off of the Yakima Indian reservation. He is stubborn and sweet and smart yet blockheaded and cowardly, and has no sense of decorum at the dog park, which often gets him in trouble with big Rottweilers and tag team Jack Russell terriers.

One sentence descriptor of Last Dog On The Hill:

The story of Lou, the once feral offspring of guard dogs on a Mendocino marijuana grow, who became one of the most heroic dogs of the modern era, and in doing so changed the lives of hundreds of dogs and people.

Pub date for the hardcover was June of 2010. After three printings it went to paperback, and is selling well here, as well as in the UK, Italy and Brazil.

What was your inspiration for the book?

Lou of course — he literally saved my life, then changed it for the better, and gave me a new career. The book is equal parts memoir and requiem.

What kind of writing had you done before?

Last Dog On The Hill is my 18th book; the others have all been prescriptive non-fiction- how to get your dog to stop biting the mail carrier, how to get your cat to stop tearing the sofa into confetti, etc. I also wrote two golf books (don’t ask), and have published short stories. I have two completed novels waiting for homes, and a third on the way.

How did you get your agent?

I met my current agent, Jeff Kleinman, co-owner of Folio Literary, at the PNWA Writer’s Conference a while back. When I found myself agent-less in 2009, I took it upon myself to show the proposal for Last Dog to an old friend at St. Martin’s; a colleague of hers made an offer, and I used that as leverage to get on board with Jeff. He’s a good guy; always tells it like it is.

(Find a writers’ conference near you and pitch publishing pros.)

 

RED DOG / BLUE DOG is a humorous photo collection of
dogs doing stereotypical liberal and conservative things,
assembled all in good fun. It released in Aug. 2012 from
Running Press and has been featured by USA Today,
PoliticalWire.com, The Huffington Post, and more.
Visit www.reddog-bluedog.com.

 

Biggest learning experience with this book?

Good question. More than any other book, I had to really work on marketing myself and the book, and not rely on my publisher to spread the word. Social media, blogging, Facebook, Twitter, Kickstarter, platform building, funding my own book tour – anything you need to do, you do. It’s my belief that no matter how good a book is, without decent publicity, it will wither on the vine; it took me a long time to learn this. You have to think of the publisher as the factory where your product is manufactured, and yourself as the vacuum cleaner salesperson.

Proudest moment(s) since publication?

First, getting the chance to have thousands of people read about Lou was a proud accomplishment. He was without question the most astonishingly accomplished dog I have ever known, and I’ve trained thousands. I’m also proud that the book won the 2011 International Book Award for the best pet book, and that Janet Evanovich, Garth Stein and Lee Child all gave it glowing endorsements.

How do you reach out to readers and dog lovers?

I have three different Facebook pages, totaling around 5000 friends. I also blog for Modern Dog Magazine (the blog is called “Dogma”), and also have my own website (www.steveduno.com). In addition, I do as many readings as possible, not only at bookstores, but at libraries, benefits, conferences, subways stations- whoever will have me. And I continue to train dogs and cats, and jump at the chance to appear on radio and television whenever possible.

(How NOT to start your book — hear from agents.)

Compare your dog Lou to a celebrity.

Lou was a dark, handsome dog, maybe the most handsome dog ever. He looked just like Al Pacino, circa 1972-74, during the Godfather films. Others think he looked like Tyrone Power, and a lot like Ken Wahl, the star of the 80s TV show Wiseguy. There’s a little Antonio Banderas in there too, but I’m going with the young Michael Corleone.

Favorite dog film?

My favorite dog film of all time, hands down, is Disney’s Old Yeller.

Websites?

www.steveduno.com

www.moderndogmagazine.com/blogs/dogma

www.facebook.com/steve.duno

Twitter- @StevenDuno

What’s next?

I have a co-authored book on international dog rescue coming out sometime this fall. And I am working on a new novel- yes, there is a dog in it. Beyond that, just training, saving dogs from the grim reaper, and surviving in the publishing world.

 

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Other dog author writing/publishing articles & links for you:

 

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