Wednesday, October 5, 2011

MacKenzie Cadenhead & Smudge

Who is in the photo at right?

Hi! I’m MacKenzie Cadenhead and I’m a children’s book writer. This is my dog, Smudge. She’s a six-year-old cockapoo who also happens to be my muse.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

It’s a rainy fall afternoon and Smudge and I are hanging out in my office enjoying a coffee break as we do most days. I’m at my desk while she’s curled up on her bed under the window beside me.

What's brewing?

Iced decaf coffee with almond milk.

Any treats for you or Smudge on this occasion?

Baby carrots.

Are you both always this healthy?

No, but we sound it, don’t we?! Chalk the decaf up to a new (human) baby, the almond milk up to lactose sensitivity, and the carrots up to the fact that Smudge already had a peanut butter treat today!

How were you and Smudge united?

When I began working from home my husband (who was secretly desperate for a dog) suggested that a puppy would get me away from my desk and out of the apartment at least a few times a day. I took this as a hint that he wanted me to change out of my pajamas each morning. The moment we saw Smudge we knew the three of us were meant for each other. I should admit, though, that I still don’t always change out of my PJs now. It’s amazing how little people care what you’re wearing around the neighborhood in the early morning.

How did she get her name? Any nicknames?

Smudge was named in honor of a friend’s pug, OG Smudge. We just loved the name and after she shed her puppy hair she had a smudge of brown fur down her back, so the name turned out to be an appropriate choice. Among her many nicknames are Lady Smudge, Smudgelet and Baby Puppy.

Please tell us about your new book.

Sally’s Bones is a middle grade novel about a girl and her reanimated skeleton dog who are accused of a crime they didn’t commit. It has amazing artwork by the appropriately named (and super talented) T.S. Spookytooth. Smudge was my muse on this book and it is dedicated to her.

What is Smudge's contribution to your writing?

Aside from inspiring me (not only is every mannerism hers but Sally’s love for Bones is mine for Smudge), Smudge listened to every draft of the book. Because there’s so much alliteration in the book and its rhythm is key I would read everything I wrote out loud over and over until it worked. Smudge’s patient listening was truly appreciated. Plus, whenever I got stuck she’d take me for a walk to help me clear my head.

Does Smudge have a favorite place to go for walk?

She likes to walk around our neighborhood but her favorite place to run free is my parents’ farm.

Squirrel, postman, cat...?

She’d like a piece of all three of them but the postman is her #1 nemesis, without a doubt. I don’t know what it is about that uniform but my otherwise sweet baby goes ballistic!

What is Smudge's best quality?

Her kindness.

If Smudge could change one thing about you, what would it be?

I know she’d be in heaven if I had an unlimited supply of tennis balls up my sleeve.

What's Smudge's proudest moment so far?

Her proudest moment was when we found a cat that had been clipped by a car on the side of the road. The three of us were already in our car so my husband scooped the cat up in a towel and I drove us around looking for a Vet’s office that was open.

Smudge, who normally would have protested that a member of the feline species was not only in our car but cradled in her daddy’s arms didn’t make a peep. She knew something was wrong and stayed calmly in the back seat the whole time. The cat was all right and home by nightfall.

We’re also proud of her appearance on the cover of an issue of Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane that I edited. (Cover art Takeshi Miyazawa, Norman Lee & Christina Strain)

Most embarrassing?

Her most embarrassing moment? It was probably this truly terrible haircut she got at a chichi groomers on the upper west side in Manhattan. They sheered her body and kept her ears and tail long and poufy.

Her tail was tucked between her legs for days and we referred to her as Fifi La Smudge. Poor pup – all us girls have been there. Needless to say we never went back to that place again!

Thank you for having us on Coffee with a Canine. Smudge informs me that our break is over and it’s back to work!

Visit MacKenzie Cadenhead's blog and follow her and Smudge on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue

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