In preparation for my forthcoming humor book, RED DOG / BLUE DOG: WHEN POOCHES GET POLITICAL (Running Press, July 2012), I will be 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 week it's Jim Kraus, author of THE DOG THAT TALKED TO GOD (Abingdon Press, 2012).
Jim Kraus is a longtime writer and editor who has authored or co-authored more than 20 books, both fiction and nonfiction. His best-selling humor book, Bloopers, Blunders, Jokes, Quips, and Quotes, was published by Tyndale House Publishers, sold more than 40,000 copies and inspired several spin-off books. Jim, and his wife, novelist Terri Kraus, and one son, live in the Chicago area.
Also residing with them is a sweet and gentle miniature schnauzer named Rufus. Coincidently, Rufus is also the name of the dog in Jim's latest book, The Dog That Talked to God. The idea of the last book came from Jim's twice-daily walks with his dog, Rufus. "I tend to think through problems as we walk, and I sometimes, softly, pose questions to the noble dog Rufus. And if he could, he would answer them. I know he wants to. Sometimes I give his answers a voice. And I imagined that most pet-owners do the same thing. The idea of a talking dog didn't seem so far-fetched. And the story grew from there."
Currently own dogs? Tell us their names, breeds and one amusing fact per dog.
Yes, we currently cohabitate with a miniature schnauzer named Rufus. We also live with an ill-tempered Siberian cat named Petey.
In one sentence, what is your book (or latest dog-related book) about?
The title says it all—The Dog That Talked to God. Rufus begins to talk to his owner, Mary, a widow who lost her husband and son in a car crash, and claims that he also talks to God.
When did it come out?
The book was released in March 2012 by Abingdon Press. Publishers Weekly gave it a very nice review and it hit #20 on the Bookscan list of Christian Fiction. It also debuted at #15 on the Christian Bookseller Association’s Best Seller list.
What inspired you to write this book?
Rufus and I take walks through the neighborhood twice a day, morning and night. While we walk, I sometime pose questions to the noble dog Rufus—and quietly voice his answers back to me. I started to wonder what would happen if Rufus actually spoke. The book took off from there.
What kind of writing, if any, were you doing before the book?
I’ve written or co-written over 20 books, mostly fiction titles—some historical, some contemporary relationship stories, and a few thrillers.
How did you find your agent?
Chip MacGregor from MacGregor Literary is my agent. Chip and I have known each for a few decades. When I started writing (I work for a publisher—so that helps) I did not use an agent. But I don’t like the business end of deal-making—so I asked Chip if he might consider representing me and the rest is history.
What has been the biggest surprise or learning experience you’ve seen through the process of seeing your book(s) get published?
Since I have done a fair number of books, there were no surprises—other than this dog book taking off so quickly. Like the experience of most authors, you spend a year writing the book, give it to a publisher and it disappears—until they send it back and let you know you have a week to make corrections. (Actually, the good folks at Abingdon have been a dream to work with. They may be a smallish publisher—but they have treated me as one of the team. That’s unusual—and so appreciated.)
Tell me about a fun moment or proud experience you’ve had with your book and readers since the book was published.
I have received many e-mails from people who say they identified with the pain and problems of the main character and appreciated how she worked her way through the trouble—and how wonderful having a dog in one’s life truly is.
What are you doing to reach out to readers and dog enthusiasts?
I’m not great at self-PR . . . but Abingdon has worked hard to get dog owners aware of the title, advertising on several dog-related web sites and getting reviews from bloggers who have dogs.
Think of your dog (or a past dog perhaps). If you could compare them to one celebrity, who would it be?
Rufus is just like Don Knott’s nervous character on the old Steve Allen show. I know that dates me—but Rufus is a gentle soul who does not like surprises and does not handle new situations all that well.
Favorite of these dog movies? --- “Best in Show,” “101 Dalmatians,” “The Shaggy Dog.”
Best in Show. I can be snarky at times. You’ll see that in the book.
Where can people find you on the Internet?
I’m on www.Jimkraus.com.
What’s next up for you, writing-wise?
I’m working on a cat book. Logical next step, don’t you think?
RED DOG / BLUE DOG is a humorous photo collection of
dogs doing stereotypical liberal and conservative things,
assembled all in good fun. It releases July 2012 from