We had the good fortune of connecting with Angel Leya and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Angel, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
I kind of fell into things. I’ve always had a love for books and art of all kind, but it wasn’t until I told a friend about a recurring dream about meeting my OTP (one true pairing, not one-time password, lol). I told her I wanted to write a book about a tandem dream romance. Her response? “I would read that.”
She encouraged me to write it, and so I did. It was clunky and lopsided, but I was proud. This was back during the Kindle revolution, and my husband steered me toward self-publishing.
That first book didn’t do well, as I had no idea what I was doing. I created my own cover, which was equally cringe-worthy, and away I went.
Except it didn’t stop there. I loved writing, and I wanted to do more, learn more. So I did. Slowly, experimenting, scouring the internet for how to better my writing.
With time and social media, I discovered groups of authors, many of who became friends. And that led me to cover artists. Which led me to learning more about photo manipulation. And as I did my own covers, I began doing covers for friends, and eventually got my own set of clients.
It’s been a long and perhaps drawn-out process, but all this began around the time I started having kids, so I’ve had to do some back and forth, trying to figure out how to manage it all.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I think the best parts of my books is that they don’t take themselves too seriously, and that levels of fantasy come in all flavors. I’ve got contemporary paranormal romances, adventure fantasies, and even some gamer lit under my belt, though I stick firmly to the young adult category. My characters not only deal with their situations, but also struggle internally, a theme I think most people can relate to. I know I can.
For my cover designs, I think the best part right now is that I have time and am open to author input. I have a small but loyal client base, which keeps the designing side of life a little quieter. I prefer it that way for now. I might do more later, but I use it mostly as a reprieve from my writing, so that I can switch gears and finish a project in a shorter time frame. Plus, I love making some pretties.
I probably should’ve given up this path about a million times along the way, but I just keep coming back to it. I think it’s my love for writing and designing that draws me in, even when the story won’t behave or the covers fall flat. But I’m always paying attention to that inner voice, the one that tells me if I’m taking on too much or going off course. I’ve got plenty to do, with a house and kids and husband to care for, but writing and designing feeds my soul. I don’t think I’ll ever reach a point where I don’t want to tell any more stories or make anything beautiful.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I live in sunny South Carolina right now, near Myrtle Beach. There’s always something to do at the beach, if you can get through the traffic.
Favorite places to go include the Market Commons, which has basically everything, from walking trails and playgrounds to restaurants, a theater, and my personal favorite, Barnes and Nobles.
Brookgreen Gardens is another fantastic place to visit, especially around Christmas. Atalaya Castle in Huntington Beach State Park is great for history. I’m also a personal fan of Medieval Times, and Dolly Parton’s Pirate’s Voyage, for a little dinner and entertainment.
Downtown Conway is great if you want things a little quieter. There’s a library, museum, restaurants and shops, and the beautiful river walk to enjoy. The Saturday farmer’s market is a great place to get local food and find local arts and crafts. One stand-out is a couple who run a glass blowing company and run demonstrations. The arts are certainly alive in downtown Conway.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
So, so many people deserve my thanks, and if I listed them all, I’d probably be here all day.
But probably the most influential person has been Laine Cunningham, owner of Writer’s Resource and Sunspot Literary Magazine. I approached her about redoing her book covers when I was still a pretty fresh designer, and she was totally open to it. We’ve been working together for years, and she’ll always be my favorite client — to the point where she feels like a partner.
A few more names: Sea Chapman (editor), Gwen Weiler (ghost writer/editor – and who introduced me to Laine), Sarah Lapalme (friend and writer), my parents (who have always believed in me)
Groups (and the individuals that make them up) that have been influential: An Alliance of Young Adult Authors, Ryse’s Cult, Little Boxes (from Books Go Social), Shifter Academy (the group who helped me earn my letters!), Alpha Reader Crits, and Lost in Fantasy
Course instructors that I feel have brought the most to my writing and designing: Derek Murphy (CreativIndie) , Rebecca Hamilton (Author Grow), Becca Syme (Better Faster Academy)