Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Chia talks about her human mom, author Smoky Trudeau

Woof! Woof! Say hello to my guest Chia! She's here today to talk about her human mom, Smoky Trudeau, a talented author of both fiction and nonfiction.

Meet Chia...

Chia is a nine-year-old shepherd mix who was rescued from an animal shelter when she was a five-pound puppy. She grew quickly on a steady diet of kibble and puppy biscuits, and now tips the scales at a whopping seventy-six pounds. When not sleeping under Smoky’s desk, she enjoys playing with her squeaky vet and squeaky lamb chew toys, chasing her cat siblings, Beetlejuice and Po, around the living room, and trying to eat lizards while taking leisurely walks through the neighborhood.

(Hmm. Quick calculation here... how much is 76 pounds in kilos. Aha! 34... Darn, I'm fatter than her!)

Chia lives with her family in a ramshackle cottage in the woods overlooking the San Gabriel Valley and Mountains beyond. While she tries to maintain a low profile, the same cannot be said for her human, Smoky. You can learn more about Smoky at her Website, www.smokytrudeau.com; at her blog on Xanga (authorsmokytrudeau.xanga.com), and on Facebook. She also hosts guests on her radio show!

Okay, all this is very sweet, but let's get to the real stuff, Chia. What's with Smoky? Give us the lowdown!

Smoky is deeply connected to our Mother Earth and to all its creatures, and that connection comes through in her writing. Of course, it’s most obvious in her latest release, Observations of an Earth Mage, which is a collection of essays and poems she wrote about her connection to our planet. I helped her a lot in writing that one. I’m in at least three of the essays; we go walking together a lot, along with her male human, Scott. There’s even a cute picture of me in the book on page 73. The entire book is illustrated with more than 50 of Smoky’s beautiful nature photographs.

But her love of nature is also very evident in her two novels, Redeeming Grace and The Cabin. She describes the beauty of Maryland’s Eastern Shore and the Southern Appalachian Mountains like the true earth mage she is. I know this because I heard her read the books aloud to my human grandmother, who can’t see very well, when the books were first published.

Hmm. She sounds pretty good. But is she a good pet owner?

As a pet owner, she’s the best. My kibble dish is promptly filled at breakfast and supper time, and she takes me to the vet every six months. I have toys and two cat companions, although Beetlejuice and Po can be pretty annoying at times.

I can imagine! But really, Chia, one can't expect much from cats...

But then again, they unanimously agreed I should be Smoky’s spokesdog for this interview, so I guess they aren’t all that bad. Of course, it helps that I outweigh them both by about seventy pounds. They don’t argue with me too often.

Tell us more about Smoky's books!

I’ve already told you a little about Observations of an Earth Mage. I features stories and photos of places of beauty and wonder all across the country, from the Great Smoky Mountains of the east to the great deserts of Joshua Tree National Park and Red Rock Canyon in the west, to Yosemite National Park and the tidepools of Big Sur on the west coast. I’ve heard her friends talk about the book; they say reading her stories makes it possible for them to visit these places in their minds without having to step foot outside their front door. I’ve heard Smoky tell people her goal in writing the book was to get people to do that very thing, though: get outdoors and take a hike. I agree with her on that one. I love my walkies!

But she writes fiction, too. Redeeming Grace is her first novel. It’s about a young woman’s struggle to save her young sister from the verbal and physical abuse of their father, a zealot preacher on a downward spiral toward insanity who uses biblical verse to justify his behavior. Grace’s husband, Otto, is struggling over his guilt about an accident that claimed the life of a young woman and left his brother severely brain damaged. Tragedy strikes just as Otto’s secret is uncovered, unleashing demons that threaten to destroy the entire family. Grace has to find the strength to save them all, and in the process find her own redemption.

Redeeming Grace is pretty heavy stuff, but it’s been very popular among readers of women’s spirituality fiction and people who enjoy theological debate.

The Cabin is Smoky’s second novel. James-Cyrus Hoffmann has just inherited his grandfather’s farm in Virginia, and with it a mysterious cabin deep in the woods. When James-Cyrus enters the cabin, he is vaulted back through time to the Civil War era, where he meets Elizabeth, the brave young woman who lives in the cabin, and Malachi, a runaway slave. Cora Spellmacher, his elderly friend and neighbor, begins to unravel the secret of how he is able to make his fantastic leaps back and forth through time. In doing so, Cora begins to hope a tragic wrong from her own past can be righted, and that she can regain something precious that was lost to her many years earlier. When James-Cyrus realizes Elizabeth and Malachi are in terrible danger, he undertakes a daring plan of rescue that promises to rewrite his family history and change all their lives forever.

The Cabin is a really exciting read. People interested in Civil War history, time travel, or just a good read will like this book a lot.

Smoky also wrote two books especially for writers. Front-word, Back-word, Insight Out: Lessons on Writing the Novel Lurking Inside You From Start to Finish is a complete writing workshop in a book. Her other writing book, Left Brained, Write Brained, is 366 writing prompts and exercises to help writers stimulate their muse. Whatever a muse is...I’m not sure. I’m a dog.

What the heck! That is a LOT of stuff and in different genres! You must be proud of Smoky. Of all these books, which one is your favorite?

Well, I’d have to say Observations of an Earth Mage, because I’m in it. But she memorialized my dog sister Chance in The Cabin by naming James-Cyrus’s horse Chance; and my dog brother Chico by having James-Cyrus refer to a little chipmunk as “Little Man.” That’s what she used to call Chico. I thought that was nice of her, to make sure they lived on in her books.

So what's with your name: CHIA?

I like my name! People tend to pronounce in CHEE-a, like those silly things you see on TV. They think I’m a CHEE-a pet, which would have been a really dorky name, don’t you think? But actually, it’s pronounced with a long-I sound: CHI-a. Chia means “shadow” in the Bangladeshi language. And I am definitely Smoky’s shadow! So the name is a really good one. It fits me. And actually, Smoky didn’t name me. Her daughter Robin did. Robin was only ten years old at the time; pretty cool a ten-year-old came up with such an exotic name.

Okay, okay, no need to get defensive... jeez... I admit Shadow is a great name.
Does Smoky let you sit on her lap while she writes?

That would be kind of hard. I’m a big girl! But she lets me curl up under her desk, and she scratches my tummy with her toes while she works. That feels really good.

My mom does the same, Chia. So I can relate.


  1. Great interview, Chia! Smoky is not only a great writer, but a great mommy to you too! Much love my furry family to yours! :)


  2. Hey, I didn't know Chia meant shadow.
    You sound like a great dog! Enjoyed the interview. (and now I have visions of you lizard hunting)

  3. Thanks for stopping by, my dearest fans!



  4. Nice Post~!!!. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

  5. Nice Post~!!!. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

  6. Great interview! Great blog! Happy to have run across you!

  7. Hey, Chia, how do lizards taste? I like to eat things out in the yard but my Mom usually catches me before I can find anything tasty.