We had the good fortune of connecting with Len Foley and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Len, why did you pursue a creative career?
When I turned 50, I realized it was either now or never. And if not me, then who?
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
When I turned 50 I started writing and illustrating my own children’s books. I wrote a book a year, for a total of three. I also run several businesses with my wife, including a coffee shop here in Thousand Oaks, California. My formula for writing kid’s books is simple: Keep the books short, no more than 26 pages. Short sentences on each page, so all the words fit on a SINGLE sheet of paper. And most important, make the books funny and memorable so kids will want to read them again and again. The only way you can know your book is funny is by reading it to kids, lots of them. Adults may love your books, but that doesn’t matter. If kids don’t like it, then it won’t work. So that brings me to the hardest part of writing kid’s books: drawing all the pictures! I never had much luck hiring illustrators because the good ones charge a small fortune and STILL want a cut of your overall book earnings… and the mediocre ones take too much time and make too many mistakes not understanding what I’m looking for. Which is why I wanted to learn 3D illustrating. But illustrating in three dimensions is NOT an easy skill. Two dimensional drawing is pretty straight forward, but learning how create/manipulate/sculpt in an additional dimension takes a lot of time and practice. And with three businesses going at once, extra time is not something I had at my disposal. But when the Corona Virus hit, and all our employees quit working at our shop, my wife and I realized it would be much more difficult to keep the business going if we closed, so we decided to work behind the bar ourselves, serving brewed coffee and cold brew. My daughter Sofia came to the shop as well and since it was really slow for the first few weeks, I started working on my 3D animation skills, studying the craft at night and then working on my skills during the day. Each morning I would show Sofia what I’d been working on. I never asked her opinion, I just looked at her face. If she smiled or laughed I knew I was onto something. If she didn’t react at all or was bored, I knew I had more work to do. That’s how I got started doing 3D kid’s books that have turned into video/movie production as well.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Anyone who comes to town, I take them to my coffee shop: Longevity Coffee here in Thousand Oaks, California. We offer 3rd wave organic, fair-trade coffee, infused with our herbal formulations that not only taste great, but make you feel great as well.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
When my daughter was born, I must have read her over 1,000 different kid’s books. I dedicate all that I do to the authors and illustrators who came before me and upon whose shoulders I stand.
Website: http://longevitywarehouse.com, https://www.longevitycoffee.com, https://lenfoley.com