Stratford High Series, Book One
by Marian Cheatham
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.
It is my pleasure to welcome Marian Cheatham, author of Ruined, Stratford High Series – Book One, to Room With Books.
Please tell us about Ruined and what inspired you to write it?
Ruined is an amusing, contemporary twist on Shakespeare’s romantic comedy, Much Ado About Nothing, and the first book in my new Stratford High series. Each book will be a modern retelling of one of Shakespeare’s plays, so even though Stratford High is a series, the books do not have to be read in any order. You can pick and choose, but I hope you choose to read them all.
The characters will be different in each story with the exception of Stratford’s principal, Dr. Bard (A.K.A Shakespeare himself). My love of Shakespeare inspired me to write the series, but you don’t have to appreciate or understand The Bard to enjoy any of the Stratford High stories. However, if you are a fan, then you’ll have fun with all the tongue-in-cheek subtleties of the books.
When you start writing a new novel, do you outline the story or do your characters dictate what will happen?
For me, it’s a bit of both. I always prepare a brief plot outline of the entire book before I begin writing to see how my idea might play out. But then when I begin writing, I sketch a more detailed outline of the chapter I’m going to write that day. In fact, when I finish one chapter, I write notes for the following chapter before I turn off my laptop. This way, when I begin the next chapter the next day or the next week, the ideas are fresh because I’ve left myself a road map of where I should be going that day.
Do you ever have arguments with your characters and who usually wins?
This question flows nicely from the question above. When I start that new chapter with my road map notes, I think I know where I’m going. But 9 times out of 10 my dialogue doesn’t lead me that way. I end up taking detours because the dialogue I think I need to write sounds forced and unnatural. I always let my characters dictate what they might say. I’m just listening, eavesdropping you might say, on the scene I’m writing. So to answer your question, my characters always win. It’s the only way to make the book feel and sound authentic.
What is something about you your readers would be surprised to know?
I used to be terribly afraid of cats. If I visited someone with a cat, I just couldn’t relax. I wouldn’t sit down in case the cat “attacked.” Now I have three cats, subscribe to Cat Fancy magazine, give rescue cats as gifts, encourage friends to rescue cats, and write everyday with Ruby, Onnie, and Tobi on or under my desk. So you could say, I conquered my fear – in a big way!
If you could write with any other author who would it be any why?
Does Shakespeare count? Because sitting with him in his London loft, writing with quill pens, our fingers stained with ink, would be the most incredible experience. But of course, that’s just a day dream. In reality, I’d choose my friend and fellow author, Susan Kaye Quinn, (The Mindjack Trilogy) because she’s so organized, sticks to her daily writing schedule, and is so terribly creative. In other words, she’s amazing.
When you were little what did you dream of becoming when you grew up and why?
I wanted to be only one thing when I was young – a teacher. So I studied hard, got good grades, took all the right classes in high school and college, worked on my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in special education and ultimately taught special education to primary-aged children. I was very focused in my desire to teach.
When did you decide to write and what prompted you to start?
Teaching is where I contracted the “writing bug.” I read picture books to my students and became hooked on them. I started writing picture books during my summer vacations from school, but discovered (very soon, I might add) that I had no talent for those kinds of books. So I moved on up to middle grade and then YA novels. Where I found a happy home!
What music inspires your writing?
Hits from the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s for the most part. I love Journey, Aerosmith, Styx, the Doobie Brothers, the Beatles, Maroon 5, Dave Matthews, Nirvana, Coldplay, Gomez.
What is your favorite breakfast? Blueberry pancakes! Unfortunately, I can’t eat them every day. Instead I juice every morning with berries, kale, avocado, honey, and green powder supplements. Great flavor, very filling, and gives me lots of energy.
What is your favorite color? Purple. It looks best on me, so I love to wear it. I once painted my office a pale purple. Didn’t last long. Now my office is a soothing sea-foam green.
What is your favorite movie? Sense & Sensibility with Emma Thompson. I also adore Shakespeare in Love, Amadeus, and all the Lord of the Rings movies.
What is your dream car? Truthfully, it’s the car I have – a Dodge Journey SUV. It’s by far the best vehicle I’ve ever owned, and I’m always saying that no matter what new SUV’s come out in the future, I’d buy another Journey.
Thank you for stopping by for a chat, Marian, and for having Room With Books be part of your tour!
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 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:
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).
Room With Books encourages readers to follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found by clicking the tour banner below.