Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Marian Cheatham  

Pen Name: Marian Manseau Cheatham

Genre: Fiction History Mystery Romance

Audience: Adult;

Born: 1955 in Chicago, Illinois

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Illinois Connection

Cheatham was born in Chicago and grew up in Elmwood Park. She later attended Northern Illinois University for both undergrad and graduate school. She taught special education in Cicero and Elk Grove Village and worked in business at her father's company in Elk Grove Village where she now resides with her family.

Biographical and Professional Information

For the past ten years, Cheatham has been writing YA novels and has been involved with the Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), acting for many years as a network rep for a SCBWI critique group at the Schaumburg Barnes & Noble. Her debut novel, Merely Dee, a fictionalized account of the 1915 Eastland Boat Disaster, was published in January 2012. Cheatham has a personal connection to the Eastland story and has been interested in the disaster her entire life. She's created a power point presentation on her Eastland research and how Chicago's greatest loss-of-life disaster effected the city, Cicero, and Western Electric Hawthorne Works.

Selected Titles At Your Library

Merely Dee /
ISBN: 1462072291. OCLC Number:

iUniverse,. Bloomington, IN :. ©2012.

The 1915 Western Electric employee picnic is the social highlight of the year in Cicero, Illinois. Five steamers wait to ferry seven thousand passengers to the picnic grounds in Michigan City, Indiana. As teenager Dee Paeau packs her picnic basket and prepares to board the SS Eastland, she anticipates this will be the best day of her life. Dee hopes to spend time with her best friend, Mae Koznecki, but she also wants to get to know Mae's handsome brother, Karel, a little better. Dee has no idea that in a matter of hours, tragedy will strike. Despite her mother's dark premonition that death awaits her if she boards the SS Eastland, Dee decides the risk is worth a chance for more time with Karel. Dee's excitement quickly turns to terror, though, when the ship capsizes at dock threatening the lives of everyone on board. Rescued from certain death, not once, but twice by Karel and a mysterious stranger, Dee soon discovers that Mae is nowhere to be found. Dee can only sit back and wait to hear if she is trapped in the flooding bowels of the capsized ship or worse yet, dead. In this captivating historical tale, Dee takes a coming-of-age journey like no other as she soon realizes that surviving the disaster is only the beginning-- Amazon.

Ruined /
ISBN: 1500335444. OCLC Number:

. .

Blythe Messina spends her last year of high school focusing on studies and planning for college. She claims she is over her ex, lacrosse star DB Whitmore, but others are not so sure. When her young cousin, Bonni's picture is circulated via text along with the lacrosse captain, she feels her reputation is ruined. Can her older cousin along with DB uncover the truth and save her, and bring Blythe and DB back together?


Editor's Choice from iUniverse Publishing,

Merely Dee

Rising Star Award from iUniverse Publishing,

Merely Dee

Speaking Engagements

Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)

Cheatham is available for readings and lectures (power point presentations)

and/or book signings. Her standard fee is $250.00 and she's open to driving anywhere in the midwest. Her novel and presentation are suited for high school groups and above. Merely Dee has been especially well received by book clubs and senior groups more familiar with the history of Western Electric. Merely Dee would be great supplemental reading for a high school/college unit on the history of Illinois, Chicago, the Great Lakes, or the time period just prior to WWI. Please contact her directly by email to schedule an event.