Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Straight Chatting from the Library - Marian Cheatham

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. 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). Please click the tour banner at the top to see other stops on this tour.

What is the favorite book you remember as a child?

As a very young child, I loved all the Dr. Seuss books because my father would read them to me and my brother at bedtime and laugh his head off. We never quite got all the jokes, but we had such a great time listening to Dad. When I grew up and began to read the books to my class (I taught primary special education) I got the inside jokes. My dad had been right. Those books are truly humorous and poignant and written with a very tongue-in-cheek nod to adults. As a pre-teen I gobbled up all the Nancy Drew Mysteries. I had an extensive collection. Hmmm? Wonder where they are now? They’d probably be worth some money ...

What is your favorite book today?

By far, the most memorable book I ever read was Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden. I “read” it on audio and I remember finishing it in the parking lot of my local Jewel grocery store. I was so overwhelmed by the ending that I just sat in my car for ten minutes trying to absorb the whole thing. Then, I cried because there wasn’t any more. Now that’s a powerful book!

Tell us about your current book in 10 words.

Ruined – Modern twist on Shakespeare’s classic, Much Ado About Nothing.

What are you reading right now?

The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare. In preparation for my next novel in the Stratford High series.

Do you have any bad book habits?

I love to read in the car on long trips. Many people can’t do that, but I’m lucky that I never get car sick. My husband and I make several road trips a year, so I always bring my pile of paperbacks selected specifically for vacations. Unfortunately, I often run out of time to finish the stack. Then the designated “vacation” books sit there waiting for my next road trip. Pathetic, I know.

E-Reader or print?

I love my Kindle, especially because it was a gift from my nephew, but there’s nothing like holding a book and exploring it from cover to cover. And then because I’m a writer, I have to check out the copy right page and the interior design. See what font they used, how the chapters are laid out, etc. ... I take it all in before settling down to enjoy the story. But I also love print books because I can get them autographed by my writer friends or other writers I might meet at a conference or at a special book signing. I have quite a collection of autographed books, but my prize possessions are two books signed by Ray Bradbury. I meet the famous Sci-fi writer at a little book shop in Chicago. It was truly a memorable experience.

One book at a time or multiples?

Multiples – if you count Audibles as part of the equation. I adore audiobooks. My satellite radio gets stale after a while. I heard all those hits of the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s over and over again. So listening to a good book while I’m driving around on endless errands makes the time fly by. Yay!

Dog-ear or bookmark? (don't worry—Librarian Judith won't hold it against you—much)

Bookmark, please! I love them. I’ve a whole collection from writer friends and I cherish each and every one because I know what went into the design. It’s not as simple as you might expect to make a truly awesome bookmark. There’s quite a bit of space to fill up, and you want the information to be relevant and interesting to the reader. The bookmark has to be eye-catching and bright. What about size? Gloss or matte? Contact info? There’s a lot to think about.

Least favorite book you've read this year?

Wool by Hugh Howey. Sorry, all you Wool fans! The writing was superb, but the story moved too slowly for me. Especially in the beginning. And not to give anything away, (spoiler alert) but I’m a bit claustrophobic and the setting gave me the sweats. If the book hadn’t come so highly recommended by a trusted friend, I would have stopped after the first chapter. And then I would have missed a great story.

Favorite book you've read this year?

I finished all the books in the Game of Thrones series this year. Believe me, that was no easy task. The first book was so good, it caught me off-guard. I couldn’t wait for the second, but I especially LOVED Book Three. By then, I was thoroughly invested in all of the characters. The plot had taken some unexpected twists and turns. And new characters were being introduced. Books four and five really slowed down the pace and the tension, and I think they should have been consolidated into one book. Sorry Throne fans! That’s just this humble writer’s opinion. But no matter my issues with the last few novels, I’m totally salivating in anticipation of the next edition. Write faster, George R. R. Martin!

Favorite book to recommend?

Game of Thrones, Book One. After my long answer to that last question, how could I not recommend that series to my friends? Of course, I don’t think any of them have taken my advice. And that’s disappointing because I’d love to have someone to discuss the story with – ad nauseum. I’ve also told friends about Memoirs of a Geisha, but I don’t think any of them have read that book either. I should just stop recommending. Or maybe, I should get some new friends.


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.




I’d been bitchy and on edge ever since that blasted luau last Saturday. Seeing DB, talking to him, being near him again, had taken my life off course. For days now, I’d been ordering my brain to STOP THINKING ABOUT HIM. We were ancient history, two people doomed from the start, like Antony and Cleopatra or Marie Antoinette and King Louis. So why couldn’t I regain control of my world? I snatched up my backpack and my Coach crossbody bag, and did a quick once- over in my bedroom mirror. The hair was tied back in a no-fuss ponytail. The jeans were clean, well, relatively. This faded ASPCA tee was past its expiration date, but good enough for school.

I turned off my bedroom light and went in search of Bonni.

She wasn’t in her room or downstairs in the kitchen. So I grabbed a frosted Pop-Up and headed into the garage, where I was blinded by piercing sunlight. Someone had left the outer door open, and my new hybrid was nowhere to be found. I shaded my eyes and peered outside.

Halfway down our long driveway, I spied Bonni and Uncle Leo with their backs to me, their heads together under the opened hood of my car. They were talking, but in this quiet morning air, their voices carried. Even from this distance, I could hear fragments of their conversation. And if I heard them, so could our neighbors. I was hurrying toward the hybrid, anxious to warn my cousin and uncle to keep it down, when I heard something that stopped me in mid-stride.

“... believe what Cory told me ... DB and Blythe ...”

Had Bonni just mentioned DB and me in the same sentence?

I ducked behind the six-foot-tall hedges lining the drive.

“What else did Cory say?” Uncle Leo asked.

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 travelled 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:
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  1. Judith,
    Thank you for the lovely post! I'll check back with you later today. So glad you're a part of the tour for Ruined.

  2. This story sounds really good, I would love to read it!

  3. Lavender, I hope you do get a chance to read Ruined. Please review it for Goodreads and/or Amazon, and be sure to let me know what you think. Thanks so much for checking in and for following my tweets. Stay in touch.
    Marian Cheatham

  4. Judith, what a great day on Straight from the Library! So glad you could be part of our tour. I really hope you'll sign up to host Book Two in the Stratford High series. No title yet, but it's based on Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice.
    Your questions were fun and challenging. I especially liked the first question about my favorite childhood book. I hadn't thought about Dr. Seuss in such a long time. Many thanks!
    Marian Cheatham