Interview with Eric Joseph & Eva Ungar Grudin, authors of 'Save the Last Dance'

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 - At the website you'll find memories about their time together in the late 50s, early 60s, as well as interviews from today.

Their latest book is the literary fiction, Save The Last Dance.
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About the Book:

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?

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Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

            Save the Last Dance was born of our own story. We were teenage sweethearts who set a wedding date when we turned fifteen, then parted ways. Three years ago, around the time of our 50th high school reunion, we began an email correspondence, not realizing what would happen. It only took a couple days for us to discover that we were still in love and that we always carried the other with us. When we looked back at our early emails, we thought our story might make a compelling novel.

            We began our book just a couple of weeks into our reunion, and determined the narrative should unfold entirely through emails and texts. The main characters, Sarah Ross and Adam Wolf, reconnect just as we did. Though they cover the same initial terrain, they soon took their own paths. Save the Last Dance is a novel, after all, and not a memoir.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

            From the outset we promised ourselves that the book would not be the usual "feel-good" depiction of old codgers in love. We wanted a more authentic novel. What happens when older people reawaken passion that upends the lives of those around them?

         Because we were going through the same experiences as our characters, it was sometimes difficult to write about our own raw emotions. At the same time, we needed to consider the points of view critical of our relationship. Collaborating enabled us to step back from our feelings and become more authentic in what we wrote. Our advice to others writing books based on their own experiences: find people who will provide you with honest reactions to your writing, so that your narrative remains credible.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

            We were fortunate to have a small, independent publisher, Hargrove Press, pick up our book as their initial title. We are in this together, and for all of us the learning curve is steep.

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

            Getting the book published took tenacity and patience. But the surprise came with the whole package the publisher needed in place to promote the book. We didn't realize that reviewers needed advance copies of the book months before it was to be released. We had to learn about blogging and author's pages, Goodreads and how to set up Twitter accounts to attract readers.
Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

            We're currently storyboarding a sequel to Save the Last Dance. At the same time, we're working on a series of interwoven vignettes about aging called The Prostate Monologues.

Q: What’s one fact about your book that would surprise people?

People express amazement that we were able to construct a complex plot with more than half a dozen characters entirely through emails and texts.

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

One of our Amazon reviewers was able to capture the message in one sentence:  "This is a 'must read' for anyone who believes in the power of taking chances at any stage of your life."

Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

Thank you for the opportunity to participate in this interview. Just one last remark about Save the Last Dance. Humor, laugh-out-loud humor, fills the book and appears even at its darker moments.

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