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Digital love story
Cavanaugh Lee appears at Savannah Book Festival
Author Cavanaugh Lee

The Savannah Book Festival doesn't happen until the weekend of Feb. 18-19, but we wanted to give you a sneak peek to get you in the mood.

This week we talk with Savannah resident Cavanaugh Lee, whose novel Save as Draft is the story of a love triangle told purely in the language of digital technology: Email, text messages, and social media. She speaks Sat. Feb. 19 at 11 a.m. in the Jepson boardroom.

What's the story behind this very unique novel?

Cavanaugh Lee: Several years back I was engaged to be married and did not get married - I broke off the engagement. And in the aftermath of that, when I was basically mourning. I started to go through my old emails - totally masochistic! - and noticed we had basically conducted the majority of our relationship online. And then I looked a little closer in my inbox and noticed I had like 100 emails in my draft folder that had never been sent.

I was like, you know, I think I'm going to start writing all this down, therapeutically. As I started writing it was about 50 percent therapeutic and the other 50 percent started to be really fun. And I started to think this might be a story other people would want to read.

So this is really more a cautionary tale about the internet, rather than a "gee whiz ain't the internet great" thing.

Cavanaugh Lee: Oh yeah. You're absolutely correct, that's the cental theme of the book. First that we're kind of oversaturated with electronics and the media and the internet, even though we spend hours a day online "communhication" we're actually ont saying anything at all. But more specifically it's about the things we don't say when we sit in front of an email spend hours crafting and then decide not to send it, or go back and redit it.

It's a cautionary tale, but I have a Facebook account, a Twitter account, I text 20 times a day, I spend most of my day online and I think that's a good thing to use that technology in a good way. It all depends how you use it. If the three characters in the book had actually sent their emails it would have been a happy story.

So really you're preaching better file management.

Cavanaugh Lee: Yes, and to not be afraid to hit Send. Of course there are some emails that without a doubt should never be sent. An email to your boss obviously should not be sent!

Online dating plays a big role in the book.

Cavanaugh Lee: I had definitely done online dating, all my single friends are online dating now. For my generation, the days of people going to bars or restaurants to meet people are almost over. The place we feel comfortable meeting people is online. You can do a lot of homework ahead of time and figure out of people are being honest with their profiles.

A character in the book meets someone online and it looks like it will be a postivie relationship. But there are also some weird people that do negative things. One of the supporting characters in the book receives these odd emails from someone that we call "Match crazies." But even for the Match Crazies, there's someone out there for them. I'm a big fan of online dating, it's about the responsible use of it.

Social media is the real game-changer, though.

Cavanaugh Lee: Social Network is probably my favorite movie I've ever seen. At least for my generation it's really defined us and the way we communicate.

I have two Blackberries, one for work, one for personal use. I have a desktop, I'll get the iPhone in a week. The only reason I don't have the iPad is because I work for the federal government and can't afford it. But if I could I would by an iPad.

Do you have regrets about the whole engagement thing not working out?

Cavanaugh Lee: The book is an anti-love story, a love triangle. With love half of it is timing and the other half is compatibility. There are two guys and one girl. One of the guys had compatibility but not timing. The other guy had timing but not compatibility.

So I definitely don't have regrets because it obviously wasn' t meant to be for a reason. Writing this book was my way to apologize to these two gentlemen. The majority of the book is fiction, but the inner core of the book is obviously based on real life.

I have no regrets but when something doesn't work out you obviously feel sad and when you have enough distance you can look back and realize what happened. They were both two very extraordinary men and I hope they read the book!

Savannah Book Festival

Cavanaugh Lee appears at 11 a.m. Sat. Feb. 19 in the Jepson boardroom.

When: Free Festival Day Sat. Feb. 19 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

Where: Various venues around Telfair Square

Cost: Free and open to the public