Ruined - Stratford High Series, Book One
by Marian Cheatham
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.
Do you like the spotlight or lurking in the shadows?
I’ll be honest, I like a little of both. My first novel, Eastland, deals with a disastrous event in Chicago’s history. I’ve been lecturing about this tragedy on guided tours around the city. At first, I thought I’d be terrified to speak to a bus load of people that are basically being held hostage to listen to me. It’s not like they can get up and leave if they get bored. But I found the interaction with the audience to be fun and exhilarating. Each speaking engagement boosts my confidence, and now, I look forward to every occasion. But there are times when friends are hosting book signings, or I’m at a ceremony for the Eastland that I just want to stay in the background and soak up the energy. Those events are not about me. I’m there in support.
How many books are in your TRB pile?
I checked my Goodreads account and found that I had 39 books in my TBR pile. On my nightstand, I have three books. On my Kindle, I have eight. Boy, I’d better get going. I have a lot of reading to do!
What is next on your to read list?
It’s a toss-up between two books written by friends. One Smart Cookie by Kym Brunner or Second Daughter by Susan Kaye Quinn. Maybe I should read them simultaneously – one on audio and one on my Kindle. That would be the only fair thing to do.
What one item would you eat for the rest of your life?
These are all fun questions. Thank you! The answer would have to be a resounding pizza. It’s such a flexible food. Thick or thin crust? Made of flour or corn meal? Spicy sauce or mild? Mozzarella or cheddar? Toppings – well, that list is unlimited. I could have pizza every day and never have the same thing twice. At least for a year or so.
What is the last thing you bought?
Other than groceries or pet food, the last thing I bought for myself was special shampoo from a salon. It’s an expensive indulgence, but I’m worth it. At least, I think so. My husband, maybe not so much if he knew how much the shampoo and conditioner really cost.
People who just push past you through a door. Whether you’re a man or a woman, be polite and hold the door for someone behind you. Puh-leez, people. Be civil!
Pizza or Pasta?
**See question above about the one food item I’d eat for the rest of my life. But seriously, I’m half Italian-American, and I grew up with Sunday pasta dinners at Grandma’s. There’s nothing like a heaping plate of spaghetti smothered in home-made gravy (that’s what Italians call sauce) and hand-rolled meatballs, topped with real grated Romano, along with a hand-tossed green salad with just the right blend of olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Now I’m hungry.
What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
That I live and work on iced-tea. I have to have some every day. I’ve visited friends in Ireland half a dozen times. For the most part, the Irish drink their tea (Barry’s) hot. My friend once had to drive all around searching for a bottle of iced tea. Where she lives in the country, iced tea is hard to come by. We finally found a bottle at a country gas station. Whew! Was I relieved. She just thought I was nuts. But I seem to go through withdrawal without my daily intake, and though I’m always terribly sad to leave Ireland, I can’t wait to get home and have a drink. Iced tea, that is.
If you had 24 hours alone how would you spend it?
If I was truly alone without the responsibility of pets, then I’d sleep late, wander around the house in my pajama pants, watch TLC bride shows all day, hit the casino at night, and stay up late. Woo hoo that sounds like fun. Know anyone who could pet sit?
If you could meet one person who has died who would you choose?
I’ve answered this question before with Jesus and Lincoln, so I thought about your question from a different perspective. What about what woman would I choose? In that case, I’d pick Cleopatra. I read a biography about her last year, and she was really fascinating. Clever, creative, a truly great ruler for her people. Yes, I’d picked Cleo.
What do you do in your free time?
Free time? What’s that? Oh, you mean down-time from family, the house, pets, kids, moms, aunts, shopping, cars, weed-filled gardens. Well, when that stuff is all done, then my husband and I usually go out for dinner. For me, the biggest break of my day would be to not have to make dinner. That’s what I consider real freedom.
Can you share a little about the current title you are working on?
I’m writing Book Two in the Stratford High Series. Ruined was inspired by Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. The second book, as yet untitled, is based on The Merchant of Venice and should be available by the end of 2014.
Thanks, Michelle, this was fun!!
Thanks! It was!
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.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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: