Title: Save The Last Dance
Author: Eric Joseph & Eva Ungar
Publisher: Hargrove Press
Genre: Literary Fiction
A tale of the power and peril of first love rediscovered.
Adam Wolf and Sarah Ross were teenage sweethearts who grew up in Cleveland Heights, Ohio in the late 50’s and early 60's. They set a wedding date when they turned fifteen. The day came and went. For most of their lives the two were out of contact.
With their 50th high school reunion approaching, Adam and Sarah reconnect. Email exchanges - after the first tentative "hi", then a deluge- five, ten- by the end of the week twenty emails a day. Soon Sarah admits, "All my life I've been looking for someone who loves me as much as you did".
Written entirely in email and texts, Save the Last Dance allows the reader to eavesdrop on Sarah and Adam's correspondence as their love reignites. It also permits the reader to witness the reactions of significant others, whose hum-drum lives are abruptly jolted by the sudden intrusion of long-dormant passion. Can Sarah and Adam's rekindled love withstand the pummeling they're in for?
About the Authors
Eric Joseph and Eva Ungar (Grudin) were teenage sweethearts in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, who set a wedding date when they turned 15. The last time they saw each other they were 21 years old. Three years ago they reunited, around the time of the 50th high school reunion. Although their book is a work of fiction, it's about a couple like them, who fall in love again, almost instantly, via email.
Eric is in public health, a consultant/educator at hospitals and clinics, concentrating his career on Native American health services across the country. Eva is an art historian who taught at Williams College in Massachusetts for 40+ years. She specialized in African and African-American art; the history of European painting: also Holocaust Studies - memorials and museums; In addition, she has performed in and written Sounding to A, a multi-media work about inheriting the Holocaust. It premiered at the Ko Festival of Performance in 2004.
Learn more about Eva and Eric and their history together by visiting hargrovepress.com - At the website you'll find memories about their time together in the late 50s, early 60s, as well as interviews from today.
Save the Last Dance: a novel
Eva Ungar Grudin and Eric Joseph
Published June, 2016 - Hargrove Press, LLC
Tell us about your latest book.
- Save the Last Dance is about two older people who set a wedding date when they were fifteen, went their separate ways after high school, and reunite fifty years later. While the novel explores the power of first love regenerated, it also confronts the consequences - anger, disapproval and interference of friends and family, whose lives the reunion has derailed.
- The novel’s format is unique - the narrative unfolds entirely through emails and texts. The reader is therefore allowed to eavesdrop on the private conversations of characters caught in an extraordinary circumstance.
"Many LOL moments. A combination of sweet, tender, pain, humor, and suspense". Amazon reviews:
Tell us a little about some of the others who contributed to your book.
- The most important contributors to the book were early-draft readers. There were eight of them, friends who were not just well-read, but willing to be honest. Their feedback was critical to us. Their input helped us make characters more believable. We reworked parts of the book they initially found difficult to follow. We even revised the ending based on their reactions.
What advice do you have for other writers?
Everyone tells you to write every day. And that's good advice.
Prepare to spend as much time editing the book as you did writing it. You need to give up the notion that your prose is sacred text. It may have been Flaubert who said that writing meant he would spend the morning coming up with the word "that" and the afternoon erasing it. Good writing is good editing.
There are easy ways to say things. And then there are writer's ways to say things. Good writers avoid cliches, don't they? We would say, don't be satisfied with bland ways to describe a scene. Aim for specifics. We think, for example, you can tell the reader a lot about a character who wears blue jeans by describing the jeans - What shade of blue? Are they frayed, and where? Do they fit comfortably? Do they ride high at the waist or are they low slung? Do they fall off at the ass?
Search for verbs that gallop. Verbs like "is" "was" "did" can drag. Read Maya Angelou or, if you can, listen to her read to you. She activates almost all her verbs and the prose moves along.
What’s the hardest thing about being a writer?
- Every writer goes through periods of doubt. That's a natural part of the creative process. Finding the courage to forge ahead anyway isn’t easy.
- Even when you know where you want to go with a passage, it's challenging to find the patience to get the language right.
- Another hard part of writing for us was letting go of sections we liked, once we discovered they didn't work.
Where can people find out more about you and your writing?
More about our background, the nature of our collaboration, and the response to Save the Last Dance can be found at http://www.hargrovepress.com
Did you have a certain audience in mind when you wrote this book?
- We didn't have any readership in mind when we wrote Save the Last Dance, but we're not surprised that the book has a particular appeal to older people who are looking back and examining their lives.
- Because the book is more of a psychological exploration than a swash-buckling adventure, it seems to appeal to women more than men. Don't get us wrong, there are many men who have written to say they've enjoyed the book immensely, but our most enthusiastic readers have been women.
- Actually, Reading Groups seem to be the perfect audience for this book because there's much to debate. Our characters face quandaries for which there are no perfect solutions. When we're able to participate in book group discussions, it's been particular gratifying. We like to hear what our readers think and always learn something from them. We've taken part in person and on Skype. In fact, if any book clubs are interested, they can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
How long did it take you to write your book?
- We took two years to write Save the Last Dance - a year to write and another to edit.
Did you learn anything from writing your book that was unexpected?
Writing became delightful when we discovered the characters could take on a life of their own. No matter how sure we were about how the narrative would progress, our characters inevitably surprised us. They took us to unexpected places. Sometimes it felt as if our fingers were simply the agents of their words.
Which authors have inspired your writing?
- Eric: Let's start with James Thurber, the gifted comic writer. I've always admire his ability to discover what was hilarious about everyday life. He inspired me to pepper our novel with humor. Nelson Algren inspired me as well - his specificity and precise descriptions. I remember a passage in Somebody in Boots, his first novel, where he recounts in small detail how desperate homeless people scavenged the garbage cans at the 1933 World's Fair. Then, of course, there's Jack Kerouac - the energetic musical language.
- Eva: When I've answered this question before, in other interviews, I didn't quite get it right. I spoke about my admiration for Nabokov and Henry James. I loved reading them, but I don't write like them. When I really, really dig deep and think about it hard, the greatest influence on my writing has been Susan Coolidge, an author who wrote for young women. I devoured the Katy Did series and latched onto every word, rereading it the way kids now read and reread Harry Potter. I simply adored the way she put things, how she revealed the character of Katy Carr in such charming and specific ways - through showing who Katy was, not telling us. This is the writer who has been the model for me. Now here's the funny thing. Because the Katy Did books were sent to me by my aunt in England, I always thought Coolidge was a British writer. That, I thought, was why the language was a bit formal and too polite. But I was wrong. I looked her up last night on Wikipedia. I had no idea she was actually born in Cleveland, where I lived. And I thought she was a contemporary writer, but wrong again. She wrote these books in the 1870s! That's why it sounded the way it did - old-fashioned and charming. Until now I had no idea Coolidge's books had been around that long, had become classics. I never knew anyone else who read them. It makes me happy that others liked her too.
- We hired a publicist (not the most expensive sort, but a good one) to point us in the right direction. Marketing, she taught us, needs to begin three months before the publication of your book. She set up a book tour for us and counseled us on how to promote Save the Last Dance through social media. And she suggested we latch onto a good marketer of blog tours, like Pump Up Your Book.
Where to purchase the book at discount.
- For a short while Hargrove Press is offering a discount on Save the Last Dance. There'll be a $2.00 deduction from the book's price if you type "GROUP" at the "Apply Coupon" box at checkout. Free postage.
- Otherwise, the book may be purchased at select bookstores, at Amazon, Barnes and Noble online, itunes bookstore, and at kobo.com.