An e-conversation with Cavanaugh Lee, author of Save as Draft

February 8, 2011 at 10:13 am (book, interview) (, )

For any of you age 35 or younger, at least some of your dating has been done online. Even if you don’t use online dating services, you’ve most likely e-flirted with someone, or friended someone on Facebook you wanted to get to know, or gchatted as cleverly as you could with a coworker you had a crush on.

It’s amazing it’s taken this long, but finally, there is a book that reflects how we date now. Save as Draft, by Cavanaugh Lee, is composed entirely of email and text messages, and it describes a love triangle between a girl, a guy she meets online, and the male best friend who desperately wants to have her, but isn’t quite sure what to do once he gets her. It’s wry, completely modern, and yet a very old-fashioned tale of love and loss. It will resonate with everyone who reads it, but especially with those of us that sometimes have an easier time communicating digitally rather than face to face.

I had the good fortune to email back-and-forth with Cavanaugh a few times about her book, which came out February 1st, and ask her the juicy stuff about dating, communicating, and how biographical the book is. Go take a peek!

(my questions are in bold, Cavanaugh’s responses are not, and we emailed three or four times with only a bit of extra random stuff cut out)

On Tue, Feb 1, 2011 at 3:25 PM, Emily V Gordon <emilyvgordon@gmail.com> wrote: 

Hi Cavanaugh! Save as Draft was absolutely riveting, and it amazed me that no one had thought to write a novel entirely in sent emails, unsent emails, and text messages. Not only is it a juicy story of a love triangle, but you have the added benefit of feeling as if you are spying everyone in the book by reading their most intimate messages to each other.

How did you get the idea to structure this book this way?

The catalyst for SAVE AS DRAFT was a broken engagement. Sigh. Yes, I broke off my engagement to be married several years ago and, in the aftermath, I read through all of our old email exchanges which dated back two years. The first thing I noticed was how many emails we had written to each other back and forth – thousands even. At that point, I realized that we had conducted our entire relationship on-line and not in-person. When I looked closer at my Inbox, however, the second thing I noticed was how many emails were in my Draft Folder, emails such as “I love you” or “I’m scared” or “I think we need to slow down.” I had never sent him these emails for some reason or another, mostly just fear of how they would have been accepted (or rejected). That’s when I started to write the book, because I had a feeling that other people had very similar experiences in this day and age when we are all over-saturated in on-line technology.

Isn’t that such a weird thing you can do with relationships now? You can track an entire love affair with your phone and your computer. I actually am not sure it’s a good thing- we romanticize and dramatize how relationships begin so often, but then when you go back and actually look at it, you end up just cringing most of the time. Or is that just me?

It’s definitely not just you. I totally agree. When we’re “in the moment” (or, rather, “in the email”), we only see what we want to see. So it’s SAFE. We idealize. It’s probably why we often choose to conduct an entire relationship from start to finish on-line if given the opportunity. Connecting “in person” is too hard these days. We’ve become deficient in that department. It’s almost… too risky.  Face to face means you actually have to face the conequences if you, God forbid, say the wrong thing!
My biggest question, of course, is how autobiographical is this story? It seems there are some similarities in yours and your heroine’s backgrounds…
Busted! Kidding. The book is loosely based on real life events. Yes, I’m a lawyer by day. Yes, I was engaged to be married. Yes, I did not get married. Yes, I had a pseudo-rebound love affair. Yes, that relationship didn’t last either. In many ways, this book gave me the opportunity to apologize to two very special men, equally amazing in their own right, who deserved a bit better than we all ended up with… I hope they read it, enjoy it, and recognize that I think the world of both of them and wish them only happiness in love.

I like that idea of the book as an apology- Do you know if either of them have read it?

I don’t know… I often wonder… I know that both men know about the book. I have a feeling that “Marty”  has already read it. I hope that he smiled to himself as he read along. I have a feeling that “Peter” has not read it, and perhaps won’t. Either way, I’m okay if both men don’t read the book – all I care about is that they read the Acknowledgements. That’s most important to me.
What are the advantages and what are the disadvantages of email-heavy relationships?
Email-heavy relationships can be both good and bad. Communicating on-line will have positive effects IF you use technology to express yourself fully, to say what you mean (and mean what you say). There will be negative effects IF you use technology to fabricate yourself, to create a false on-line persona. So, it 100% depends on how you use all the on-line technology out there (email, Facebook, G-chat, Twitter, etc.)
Do you find that it’s sometimes easier to feel disconnected from someone who you’re connected to mostly online?
Absolutely. Communicating on-line can only get you so far. You can build a back-story, but you can’t get to the meat of the story. Eventually, you’ve got to meet in person and start spending “real time” together. Only then will you truly know if it’s a “fit.” And, the longer you delay meeting someone in person…

Whoa, that’s exactly true. You do build a back story, but it’s just a framework. It looks pretty on the outside but there’s not a lot of “stuff” in there. I’ve carried on several online romances with boys that I ended up flat disliking in person, and it was because I could fill in all that meat with my own fantasies, and not with who they actually were. Have these experiences scared you off of online dating?

I can’t tell you how many times my friends and I have communicated on-line with a guy for weeks before going on a date. We envision what he looks like, how he smiles and talks, his interests, special skills, what food he enjoys, what he does in his spare time. Our “image” of him can become so detailed, down to how he holds his fork or what color socks he wears. Example: we picture that he looks just like Ashton Kutcher. Then… we finally go on a date with him. Surprise! NOT Ashton Kutcher. More like… umm… well, NOT Ashton Kutcher. Up until meeting him in person, however, we have already imagined our entire life with this person who we have drummed up in our minds based on numerous emails back and forth… and it’s a false reality. Then, we have to deal with the consequences.
No spoilers for the book, but why do you think, when things start going sour in a relationship, that we sometimes look outside to find some comfort or solace?
Human nature dictates that we look to someone else when we feel neglected in our present relationship. It’s called the “rebound” relationship. Rebounds happen for a very specific reason. As Urban Dictionary defines it, rebounds are “hooking up with someone shortly after being dumped (by someone else) so that you still feel wanted.

Oh I’m very familiar with rebounds! I’ve had quite a few. I have just often done it while I’m still in an emotionally unsatisfying relationship. You end up not physically cheating so you feel less guilty about it, but your heart has still moved on to another person. This book was the best slow burn example of that I’ve ever seen.

Slow burn indeed. Ugh. With this particular rebound – Izzy with Marty – it was more complicated than the usual rebound relationship, because Marty was actually in the picture before Izzy romantically hooked up with Peter. In fact, had Peter not made the moves on Izzy when he (finally) did, I truly think Izzy would have ended up with Marty. But, Marty had bad timing. Alas, everything in life has a little something to do with timing. It’s 50% compatibility and 50% timing. Izzy had compatibility with Marty, but had timing. She had good timing with Peter, but probably not the best compatibility. Can you find both in one man? I sure hope so!!! I’m an eternal optimist. :-)

Excitedly awaiting your response,

Emily Gordon

This was fun!

Cavanaugh

I could not put Save as Draft down. Go buy it today, and check out Cavanaugh’s website!!

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1 Comment

  1. Tweets that mention An e-conversation with Cavanaugh Lee, author of Save as Draft « Gynomite! -- Topsy.com said,

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Emily V Gordon, Cavanaugh Lee. Cavanaugh Lee said: RT @thegynomite: Today, Gynomite has my e-interview with Save as Draft author @cavanaughlee! http://tinyurl.com/saveasdraft [...]

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