Greetings, Friends! Today, we’re extending a warm welcome to Marian Cheatham! She is the author of the YA book, Ruined. I absolutely love the cover! (BTW, Marian is giving some great prizes during her tour. Details are further down in this post!)
Here’s the BLURB to give you the gist of the story: (If any of you are Shakespeare lovers, you’re going to want to grab this book immediately!)
When your life has been ruined by lies, do you seek justice … or revenge?
Blythe Messina spends her senior year focused on her studies and college, and not on her ex, Stratford High’s lacrosse star, DB Whitmore. At least, that’s what Blythe keeps telling herself. But her younger cousin, Bonni, knows otherwise. Same goes for DB, who swears to be over Blythe and their breakup, but his teammates aren’t fooled.
When scandalous photos of Bonni and the team captain are texted around Stratford, Bonni’s virtuous reputation is ruined. She professes her innocence, but no one believes her. No one, except Blythe and DB, who come together to uncover the truth. But, will they stay together?
Ruined is a modern twist on a classic Shakespearean romance. “Deceit, loyalty, honor, and romance–Ruined has it all! A teen version of Much Ado About Nothing that Shakespeare aficionados are sure to savor!”
Kym Brunner, Author of Wanted: Dead or in Love & One Smart Cookie
All books in the Stratford High series will be modern retellings of a Shakespeare classic. Ruined is inspired by Much Ado About Nothing.
Here’s an EXCERPT to tickle your taste buds:
I watched through the sliding glass doors as my baby brother disappeared into the depths of Mr. M.’s house with DB. I hoped Jon wasn’t getting sick. The Mai Tais at this party were kind of sweet. Or maybe the sun had gotten to him. No denying it was hot outside, and this deck didn’t have a sheltered awning. Dad used to tell Jon to toughen up, and Jon had, once he’d started playing lacrosse. Wasn’t his fault, he was on the short side. Jon got that from his mother. She was just a pale wisp of a thing. Maybe that was what Dad had liked about her. She was the polar opposite of my long-legged, big-boned Amazon mom.
Dad. What a player. He had the best of both worlds in women and sons.
A hand clamped down on my shoulder. “Don’t worry about your brother,” Mr. M. said. “Jon’s in capable hands. That DB is a good guy. I only wish my niece could see his better qualities.”
Bonni shook her head. “Blythe’s too hung up on the past. At least she pretends to be. She’s always DB did this and DB did that. Acting annoyed when she’s really in love with him.”
“Same with DB,” said Cory. “He say he hates Blythe, but I know he’s always plotting ways to run into her on the sly.”
“Me thinks they doth protest too much,” said Mr. M. “Too bad. Those two seem perfect for each other. If only they could find their way back together.”
“Maybe they just need a push.” A seed of something had taken root in my brain.
“Go on.” Mr. M. smiled at me. “What’re you thinking, Paolo?”
“Maybe we can trick them into admitting how they really feel. What if you and Bonni let it slip that DB wants to work things out? You know, have a conversation when Blythe’s not supposed to be around, but really she is. Let her overhear you talking.”
“We can do that, right, Daddy? We can make Blythe believe DB still cares.”
“Absolutely!” Mr. M. high-fived her.
“And you and I will do the same with DB,” I told Cory. “When we’re sure he’s listening, we’ll drop the bomb that Blythe is still into him. Then we stand back and let nature take its course.” I extended my hand. My three co-conspirators piled their hands on top of mine.
“We’re all in?” Bonni, Cory, and Mr. M. nodded.
“Good. Operation Cupid is a go.”
Below is a short interview with Marian:
Where are you from?
I was born in Chicago where I spent the first five years of my life. Then my parents moved to the suburbs, Elmwood Park, IL, to be exact, where I attended grade school and high school. I went to Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, IL, and then returned to the suburbs after graduation to teach and work in business before marrying. Now we live in another Chicago suburb, Elk Grove Village, IL, northwest of the city near O’Hare airport. Guess you could say, I’m a true Chicagoan.
Tell us your latest news?
Right now, I’m writing Book Two of the Stratford High Series. No title yet, but the story is inspired by Shakespeare’s play, The Merchant of Venice. This summer, I started writing a blog for the Chicago Tribune’s Chicago Now site. My blog, Everyday Eastland, deals with the Eastland boat disaster of 1915 and is also the subject of my first novel, Eastland. I’ve also started giving guided tours about the Eastland, visiting sites associated with the disaster in and around Chicago. It’s really been a fun summer! I have a haunted tour scheduled for October. We’ll see if we can conjure up a few ghosts of the Eastland.
When and why did you begin writing?
I was teaching special education to primary-aged students and reading library picture books to them every day. I don’t know who enjoyed story time more – me or them. So I got it into my head that I could write picture books. They were short, only 400 words or so. A mere 36 pages long. Easy, right? Wrong! Writing a great picture book takes talent, something I just didn’t possess. I have a boxful of rejection letters from editors/agents to prove my point. So I tried my hand at middle grade novels. Again, many, many rejections. But I do have a few completed manuscripts in a box in my closet. They’ll never see the light of day again, but the writing was good practice. Finally, I made an attempt at young adult fiction and got an agent with my first novel. She never sold that novel, and we eventually parted ways, but I kept writing and writing, practicing my craft until I finished Eastland.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Probably when Eastland went ‘live’ on Amazon. That was a very exciting day. One that I’ll never forget. After several congratulatory calls from friends and family, I felt like a real, honest-to-goodness writer. And I was. But it was just the beginning of my journey. Now I write nearly every day, if not on my latest novel, then I’m working on a blog post or networking about my two published books, Eastland and Ruined. I always have something to write about.
Do you have a specific writing style?
Yes. When I’m writing a novel, I try to finish an entire chapter every time I sit down at my laptop. Then I make notes for the next chapter before logging off for the day. This way when I start that next chapter, I have some guidelines to use. This system seems to work for me.
How did you come up with the title?
‘Ruined’ came from the storyline and theme of the play, Much Ado About Nothing. A young bride’s virtuous reputation is ruined by lies and trickery. For me, the key word was ‘ruined,’ so I went with that for the title. It seems to say it all.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I hope they take away the notion that revenge is never the right answer. Yes, we can be angry over a destructive situation, but retaliation only prolongs the conflict. Justice, not some hot-headed, crazy revenge scheme, is the right way to settle the problem.
How much of the book is realistic?
I think a great deal of the book is realistic, at least, I was going for that genuine high school feeling when I wrote Ruined. I heard from a reader on Goodreads who said that she knew people from this book in her senior year in high school. That made my day. She could relate my story and my characters to her life. Ruined had struck a realistic chord with her, and I’m was very glad and grateful to hear that.
Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
In other novels I’ve written, characters have had some of my characteristics and/or personality traits of people I know. It’s hard for a writer not to use their own experiences, their own emotions, when creating a character. If you need a bossy character, you envision that bossy co-worker you had years ago and put some of him/her onto the page. But in Ruined, I was focused on re-creating Shakespeare’s characters. I had personality guidelines to work with, and not just a blank slate like I have when I create my own characters for my own stories. So I’d have to say, a piece of me might have snuck into Ruined, but it wasn’t my intention.
What books have most influenced your life most?
In classical literature it would have to be anything by Shakespeare, of course. I love Jane Austen, especially Pride & Prejudice and Sense & Sensibility. Charles Dickens wrote one of my most favorite books, A Tale of Two Cities. I admire John Steinbeck for his Of Mice and Men, and Cannery Row. J.R.R. Tolkien’s Hobbit and all of the Lord of the Rings books. Contemporary writers that I love include, Stephen King and his Richard Bachman stories like The Running Man. J.K. Rowling and her incredibly imaginative, Harry Potter. Any southern lawyer novel by John Grisham. Scary, sci-fi books by Robin Cook. But my favorite writer was Michael Crichton. Jurassic Park blew me away. I still can’t believe he’s dead. Oh, well, his writing lives on! Yay!
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Marian is a full-time writer of contemporary and historical young adult fiction. A native Chicagoan and a graduate of Northern Illinois University, Marian taught special education and worked in the business world before pursuing her dream of becoming a writer. She would rather be at her desk than almost anywhere else, but of course, that isn’t always possible. So when she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, gardening, walking the dog, travelling with her husband, and researching new projects. Not necessarily in that order.
She adores anything Shakespeare. An avid reader of Shakespeare biographies, she has traveled the world to see his plays, visiting Stratford, Canada as well as Stratford-Upon-the-Avon, Great Britain, and the new Globe Theater in London. Her latest YA novel, Ruined, Book One in her new Stratford High series – modern retellings of Shakespeare’s plays – is inspired by the Bard’s classic romance, Much Ado About Nothing. Book Two, inspired by the Merchant of Venice, is due out fall 2014.
Her debut YA, Eastland, came out in February 2014. Based on the real-life story of the 1915 Eastland boat disaster in Chicago, Marian lectures about the Eastland to schools, libraries, and book clubs, as well as co-hosting haunted Chicago tours of Eastland disaster sites. She writes a post on the subject on the Tribune’s Chicago Now blog site. Visit her at:
PRIZE NEWS: Marian will be awarding an eBook copy of Ruined to a randomly drawn commenter at each stop during the tour. A Grand Prize of a signed paperback copy of Ruined plus a new DVD of Much Ado About Nothing starring Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson will be awarded to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour (US ONLY). A signed paperback copy of Ruined will be awarded to a randomly drawn host (US ONLY).
I’d love one of my readers to win this prize!!
Friends, I’m also a real Shakespeare lover, how about you? Let me know!
And as always, thanks for stopping by!
P.S. Still time to escape to the beach before the weather turns cold! Join Tiffany in The Return.