Follow Jacob and Belle, two high school sweethearts separated, after Jacob is drafted into the Korean war in 1951. Their story is a tale of timeless love, in an era of innocence long forgotten. Watch as they fall deeper in love, the closer Jacob gets to leaving to fight in a war, where he and Belle could lose everything. Through a series of beautifully written letters, we see them as children, starting out as enemies; until the summer Jacob saves Belle from drowning. See them grow from two inseparable best friends, becoming a couple in love. Will Jacob and Belle have the bright and happy future they’ve always dreamed of? Will Jacob return home wounded or worse, never coming home at all? Will their love, sustain them through all of the challenges they have to face in the midst of a cruel twist of fate, neither can control? Find out in… “Letters Away” Written by authors: Elias Raven and Sharon Johnson December 2016
To see other works published by these authors please visit their Amazon page.
Sneak Peek Interview
Sharon & Elias
T: As many of us know, Letters Away came about, after one of your Live Writes. What were your reactions when asked to work on a project together?
S: When our friend Joany Kane, mentioned the idea I loved it. It made perfect sense that if Elias and I could write a love story to just a picture prompt in just an hour, at “The Coffee House Poets Live Write” we could definitely write an entire book of love letters over a period of time.
E: I agree with Sharon. The give and take of a live write was very similar in many respects. I remember brainstorming the original idea for the project with her on the phone, as ideas started coming to me and vice versa. Sharon, would send me back ideas she had and we were able to start piecing together the framework of the story.
T: When did the two of you first meet?
S: I met Elias in the fall of 2015, after I became a fan of his poetry. We started talking about his wonderful work, including his debut novel, Cain and I started sharing some of my poetry with him as well. From almost the beginning, we had a very easy, back and forth rapport, like water off a duck’s back. I was putting a book together in December, called, “The Eclectic Poet & Friends” and asked him if he’d like to be one of the guest poets in my book. Happily, he said yes. Then, the end of December, I asked him if he’d be my writing partner for a brand new event that my PA Julie Beckford and I started, called “The Coffee House Poets Live Write” January 9th of this year, was our first time writing together and it went better than either of us ever expected.
E: Yes, it was in the fall of 2015. That was a very transitory period for me in my career, when I was learning to swim as an author. I remember seeing them both at my early events when I was learning how to present my poetry and writing to the world at large via takeovers. I was struck with Sharon’s early voicing of her poetry, with the way she painted her imagery and we became fast friends. When she asked me to join her Live Write group for the very first one, I was honored. The concept was very similar to Live Poetry Slams, I had done in Hollywood when I was younger and I thought the concept would move over well to Facebook. When we first wrote together in January, I was struck with how easy it was to write with Sharon and the rest is history.
T: What has kept you writing together in the Live Writes?
S: Elias, is an amazing writer and when we write together, he brings his best every time and that makes me want to rise to the occasion and give him my best as well. We always give each other plenty to work with when we partner up. We also talk about our Live Writes when they’re done, trying to find ways to make them better the next time. Even though we have no idea what the picture looks like before each write, we talk about what we did during our last “Live Write”. The things we did that worked well and the few things that were fine, but could be improved upon.
E: I can say the same for Sharon. She is an amazing writer as well. We both strive to constantly improve our writing together and afterwards, we talk on the phone and decompress and analyze the flow of the write and the choice of phrasing we used in different passages. The depth of feeling and what I really love is how each write for both of us is a new experience. We come at it like we are lovers that have known each other for a long time, yet each write is a new experience, a different telling of our imagination and desires painted broadly, yet delicately across a sparse framework of reality and desire. The dance of words as one leads the other like in a Tango, the gentle give and take is exquisite.
Belle & Jacob
T: When and where did you two meet?
B: I first met Jacob officially, after he and his parents moved next door to our house. It was not a happy meeting at all. That had been my best friend Regina’s house, ever since we were very young. Her dad had gotten another job out of town and they had to move away. I remember thinking my life was over and how God was making a huge mistake. I prayed about it for weeks, hoping he’d somehow change his mind. But that day when I watched them driving away, I was devastated and was certain God hated me for sure. I made up my mind that day, he would be my sworn enemy for sure and I’d never like him or talk to him, unless I was forced to. I lookback now and wonder why Jacob ever wanted to be my friend. I was so mean to him.
J: Teresa, I remember us driving up to the house because my folks were looking to buy it. I saw Belle, standing on the porch of her house with her folks, when we drove up. I hadn’t really paid attention to girls all that much before, but I remember how she glared at us, when we walked up. Then, she ran into the house, slamming the screen door behind her. My dad leaned over and whispered in my ear, “She sure looks like a pistol Jacob.” I remember looking at my dad and asking, what that meant. He laughed and replied back, “You just mark my words son” and patted me on the shoulder. I kept mumbling to myself, “What does, look like a pistol mean?” While we were walking over to her parent’s house to introduced themselves and inquired about the house and neighborhood. Belle’s parents were really nice to my folks and answered all their questions. Afterwards, when we were looking around the inside of the house, I went upstairs to one of the bedrooms and looked out the window and that’s when I saw Belle looking out of the on the opposite side. She ducked behind the windowsill, when she saw me looking over at her, then she pulled the curtains closed. I remember the sun was shining on her hair and I hadn’t really paid attention to any girls, until I met Belle. I went downstairs and asked my folks if they thought she’d like me. My mom gave my dad the strangest look and said “Jacob, if it’s in God’s plan, then you two will like each other and become friends.”
T: Was it love at first sight?
B: No. Definitely not! After my best friend Regina moved away and Jacob moved into her house, I felt like she was a traitor for leaving me and he was the enemy for moving into her house and taking over her bedroom. I couldn’t stand him then. But four months after moving in, we were both at the same pond swimming with several other neighborhood kids. We were all swinging on a rope and jumping in the water, one at a time. Everyone was laughing and having a great time. When it was my turn to jump in the water from the rope, something went wrong and I landed in the water so hard, it knocked the wind out of me. All the kids were laughing thinking it was a joke, but it wasn’t. I was actually drowning. Jacob knew almost immediately that something was very wrong and without hesitation, he jumped in and saved me. That was the summer that changed my life. It was the beginning of our love story. I still get chills, every time I think about it.
J: It definitely wasn’t love at first sight. She didn’t make it easy on me. Every morning, when we got on the bus to go to school she’d do her best, to avoid sitting with me. I made friends quickly with many of Belle’s friends at school. I figured she’d HAVE to like me at some point because all of her girlfriends thought I was charming and really neat. But no matter what I tried, Belle wouldn’t budge. It was really hard to watch. I just wanted to be her friend and she wasn’t interested at all. Her folks and mine, got along great and became fast friends. Belle, just kept the cold shoulder treatment going. It seemed forever, until that day in the pond. When I saw she was in trouble, I didn’t think about it, I just raced into the water and went after her. When I dragged her onto the shore she wasn’t breathing at first. I was so scared that she wouldn’t wake up. Finally, she started coughing up water, so I didn’t have to do any kind of life saving measures. With the way Belle felt about me at the time, I’m pretty sure she would’ve socked me if I did. Later, after her mom and dad took her home, they thanked me for saving Belle’s life and told my folks about it. I didn’t feel like any hero or anything, I was just glad she was ok. That was when her walls started coming down and we became friends.
About the Authors:
Elias Raven was born and raised in Los Angeles. He’s an avid reader with a lifelong passion for writing. He’s a storyteller, a poet and a talented musician with an amazing voice. Oh, and let’s not forget an amazing cook!
As a young boy he spent many summers reading classics such as “The Adventures of Sherlock Homes” and “The White Company” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. His creativity was constantly being pushed as he learned more and more about the world around him. His taste in literature spanned from classics to science fiction/fantasy. He expanded his taste devouring everything from William Blake to Milton, Dante, Baudelaire, Arthur Rimbaud, T.S. Elliot, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Khalil Gibran, William Carlos Williams, Ezra Pound, Paul Verlaine, Walt Whitman, Alan Ginsburg, Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, Carl Sandburg, Dylan Thomas, and Jim Morrison. These inspirations and his sheer love for reading had him take pen to paper around the age of 20.
Did I mention he’s a Musician? …You can often find him playing his guitars (both electric and acoustic) and keyboards and singing (4 octave ranges) in his home studio. He’s a classically trained music aficionado -trained early on by Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart, Hayden, Liszt, as well as Big Band, Jazz and Rag Time. Spending time with his father at the Los Angeles Philharmonic; experiencing his first orchestra concert at the age of 9.
Elias the Gourmet Cook…Oh My!…His Japanese mother and grandmother trained him very well in fine culinary skills both in cooking and food appreciation from all over the world such as Italian, Indian, Moroccan, Thai, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Hawaiian, Pilipino, Greek, and Polish.
When Elias is not reading, writing, composing music or cooking…he can be found listening to music, playing games, hanging out with his kids. He enjoys going to concerts, going on culinary adventures, sightseeing, spending the day at the beach or in the mountains…just doing something adventurous!