PERSONAL: Born in Lorain, OH; married, 1992; children: one son, one daughter (twins). Education: Graduated from college.
CAREER: Novelist and screenwriter. Simon & Schuster, New York, NY, former copywriter; Avon Books, New York, NY, former staff member; Dell, New York, NY, director of advertising and promotion, 1984–86, editorial director, 1989–90, vice president, 1990–92, editor-in-chief, 1992–99, editor-in-chief of Delacorte hardcover imprint, 1992–99.; Warner Books, New York, NY, director of advertising and promotion, 1986–89.
The Dog Walker, Atria Books (New York, NY), 2004.
SIDELIGHTS: A long-time editor-in-chief at both Dell publisher and its Delacorte imprint, Leslie Schnur decided to sample life on the other side of the editor's desk and become a writer. It was an eye-opening experience, as she explained on her home page: "Nothing could have prepared me for how hard it is to be a writer. Sure, it is wonderful. One of the most wonderful things I've ever done. But if I were ever to become an editor again, like when a Polar ice cap melts, I would never talk to authors the way I used to." Hesitant at first, because of a lack of credentials or even a single college writing course or a short story to her credit, Schnur eventually overcame her fears through the strong encouragement of her husband. After writing a screenplay that was optioned by a Hollywood agent, which gave her a burst of confidence, she decided to work toward her dream of writing a novel.
The Dog Walker tells the story of Nina Shephard, who decides to quit her job in publishing to take on the surprisingly well-paying job of walking other people's dogs. Among other things, this job gives Nina the chance to indulge a secret passion: snooping in other people's homes. Generally, clients simply leave her a key to take the dog in and out, and some of these clients don't even meet her. One apartment in particular captures her imagination. Sleek, modern, and tasteful, the apartment of Daniel Maguire seems to epitomize the man of her dreams. Finally, she meets the man himself, or so she thinks. In fact, she meets his twin brother, Billy, a sensitive, artistic dreamer who is everything shallow, yuppie brother Daniel is not. A smitten Nina must gradually discover what she really wants, while Billy must find a way to come clean about his true identity without blowing his chances.
Not all critics were equally smitten by The Dog Walker. A Publishers Weekly reviewer found that "Schnur strives for breeziness but belabors the obvious … and the twins plot device is creaky and superfluous." Similarly, a Kirkus Reviews contributor believed that "Schnur's attempts at humor, alas, are gratingly obvious and annoyingly self-congratulatory, especially when praising Nina and Manhattan."
Other critics were considerably more satisfied. Booklist contributor Carolyn Kubisz described the novel as "an enjoyable comedy-of-errors yarn, filled with mistaken identities, eccentric characters, and lots and lots of dogs." Similarly, Library Journal reviewer Margaret Hanes appreciated the characters, both human and animal, including "a sweet little boy neglected by his mother, an old woman with some suspicious ties to the IRS, and a cast of canine characters even more appealing than their owners." For Harriet Klausner in AllReaders.com, "though the use of twins feels ancient, fans, especially dog fanciers, will enjoy this Manhattan romantic romp."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, July, 2004, Carolyn Kubisz, review of The Dog Walker, p. 1820.
Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2004, review of The Dog Walker, p. 514.
Library Journal, June 15, 2004, Margaret Hanes, review of The Dog Walker, p. 66.
Publishers Weekly, November 23, 1992, "Dell's Schnur to be Delacorte Ed-in-Chief Too," p. 15; February 3, 2003, "Former Top Editor's First Novel," p. 12; June 14, 2004, review of The Dog Walker, p. 42.
AllReaders.com, http://www.allreaders.com/ (April 14, 2005), Harriet Klausner, review of The Dog Walker.
Bookreporter.com, http://www.bookreporter.com/ (December 20, 2005), interview with Schnur.
Leslie Schnur Home Page, http://www.leslieschnur.com (April 14, 2005).