When and why did you get Dakota ?
I got Dakota when he was four months old. He was born in South Dakota, crated, then shipped to a pet store here in Upstate, New York. That’s where I found him, wreaking havoc in a pet store. He had escaped from the room we were in, where we sat debating whether or not he was the dog for us. There was total chaos. He almost made it out of the store and into the mall before he was scooped up and handed to my wife, Rita. I knew then that what was a potential sale was now a done deal. We got Dakota because there was a giant void left in our house with the passing of our Belgian Shepard, Bear, almost four years ago. Dakota filled that void, the same way a jumbo hot dog with chili on it fills the void in your stomach, then leaves you doubled over in pain a half hour later.
What inspired you to write Dakota: A Work in Progress?
Dakota was like no other dog I had ever known, which was why I began taking notes, jotting down the unusual things he did. I’ve asked other owners of golden retrievers if their dog behaves the way that Dakota does, and each one replied with basically the same answer, an emphatic “Oh, nooo...My dog doesn’t do anything like that.”
How hard was it for you to sit down and write the book?
It wasn’t hard at all. It was fun elaborating on all of the crazy things that Dakota does. When my wife, Rita read what I wrote she was laughing out loud. She then passed these stories on to her Mother, and to her friends in the office where she works, and she was getting the same reaction from them. It was Rita’s idea that these short stories should be a book.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about or currently writing?
The best advice I have is to never give up. Keep writing. I once read that a good story will find its way, and I am a firm believer in that adage. It may not happen as quickly as you’d like, but it will happen. It’s also important not to be intimidated by the other writers. I remember reading the works of the heavyweights like Ernest Hemminway, William Kennedy, Saul Bellow, and others, and thinking to myself that I could never write like them, so I started writing screenplays instead. What I failed to realize was when writing you must be yourself, and have fun with what you’re writing if the genre allows it. I enjoy hearing people laugh over something I said or wrote. Who doesn’t? And Dakota is quite a character. He gives me plenty to write about.
Tell us something about Dakota that is NOT in your book?
My neighbor, Eileen is avoiding me now thanks to Dakota. When Eileen’s son goes away on business he leaves his dog, Harper with his parents. Eileen was in her yard with Harper when she saw Dakota and me in my yard. She invited us over so that Dakota and Harper could play together.
When the gate opened and Dakota saw his best friend, Harper standing there waiting for him, he went bonkers. His reaction triggered the same reaction in Harper, and they started chasing one another around the pool at warp speed.
Their lips were pulled back with the G-force they created.
I knew that sooner or later Dakota was going to veer off and come running and jump up on Eileen wanting to give her kisses, thanking her for letting him come over to her yard to play with Harper. I stood there guarding her like a goalie for a hockey team guards the net, while trying to have a conversation with her at the same time, which was near impossible. I had a number of good saves as I dove to the left, then to the right. Then Dakota got by me and jumped up on her. Eileen thought nothing of it. She’s so sweet. Dakota went back to chasing Harper around the pool.
My mistake was not paying attention to Dakota as Eileen and I continued to talk. In mid-conversation I saw her face drop and her mouth fall open. I turned and saw what she was looking at. It was Dakota. He was trying to pick up the floats that were not in the pool and puncturing them with his teeth. The floats popped and hissed, Dakota jumped back. He was deflating them all.
I told Eileen that I had better get going and took Dakota and left. I hope Jeff has a bike tire repair kit so he can patch up the floats.
What would you tell someone who has not read the book, something that would inspire them to pick up a copy?
I would tell them what Amy, Editor in Chief at Diversion Press, told me “This is not just another book about a dog,” and she’s right. There is no other book out there like this one. This one is unique and it is very, very, funny. The picture of Dakota on the cover sets the tone. This is a book that will keep you laughing from cover to cover, and it is appropriate for all ages.
What is one of your favorite stories from the book?
That’s a tough question to answer because there are so many of them. I’M TURNING INTO HIM is one of my favorites, and every word of it is true. It’s really kind of scary.
You have been doing a lot of signings. How is that going?
The book signings are going great. It’s always fun. I love meeting people and talking about Dakota’s book with them.
I could go on all day talking about it. It’s always a good time. I leave my customers smiling and nine times out of ten they have a signed copy of Dakota’s book in their hand as they walk away from the table. I read somewhere that an author is lucky if he sells ten copies of his book at a book signing. I’ve been selling between twenty and thirty books at each signing.
What is your best and worst signing experience thus far?
My best signing experience was at Barnes & Noble Booksellers at Mohawk Commons in Niskayuna, New York when a little girl whose cheeks looked like they were about to burst, saw Dakota’s book and went running to get her mother. The mother told me that the little girl told her that she had an emergency, then took her by the hand and brought her to the table where I was signing books. She wanted to buy Dakota’s book. I sold twenty-seven copies of the book that day.
My worst experience was when I was set up at the rear of a store. No one would have known I was back there signing Dakota’s book if it weren’t for advertising the event in the newspapers and on the web. Not everyone takes the time to stop and look at the poster you have in the store front
window. I would rather be set up near the front of the store where people walking in will see me.
What advice would you give to authors about scheduling and conducting signings?
I would advise them to try to schedule their signings in malls and on Saturday afternoons when you have the greatest amount of people coming through the store. Also, be sure you are set up where you will be visible, preferably near the front of the store. Smile, be courteous, and engaging, and ready to talk about your book and you’re sure to do well.
Bill thanks and congrats on the success of book and signings. You can keep up with Bill and Dakota on their website at http://dakotaaworkinprogress.blogspot.com/
If you need a copy of Dakota you can get it here