Ice-Cream Eating and California Dreaming--Thao Le in the KidLit Studio
Updated: Mar 14, 2021
Thao Le first showed up on my radar when I was just entering my own agent search about ten years ago. I felt like I'd found a kindred spirit when I read her wishlist on her agency website--everything she said she liked in books was also what I liked in books! Though I wound up not querying her because she only accepts picture books as author-illustrator, I've enjoyed following her on social media for years. Clearly, she's an agent of good taste.
Later, in my work as the Regional Advisor for Arkansas SCBWI, I invited Thao to do a presentation about villains, called "How to Write a Good Bad Guy." It was a resounding success and made all of us here in Arkansas even bigger Thao fans than we were before!
Thao joined the Sandra Dijkstra Agency as a full-time agent in the spring of 2011. She represents picture books through YA, along with some select adult genres. Her clients include New York Times and Indie bestselling authors such as Roshani Chokshi, Sandhya Menon, Emily Duncan, Jessie Sima, and Jessica Kim. She is currently open to submissions and is actively seeking underrepresented voices.
We think you'll be as enchanted with her answers as we here in the Kidlit Studio were!
1. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Every book deal feels like an achievement to me! I’m very proud whenever I’m able to
tell one of my clients one of their books have sold!
2. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Sleeping in, ice cream, getting obsessed with a new story (whether it be in book, tv, or
3. What is your most treasured possession?
The blanket my mother gave me when I was little. She immigrated from Vietnam with it
and it’s just a beige blanket (nothing super special). But it is my childhood blanket and
I still have it and have informed my husband that I must be buried in it when I die.
4. When and where were you the happiest?
The luau-themed birthday party my now-husband threw for me, right before my
5. What is it that you most dislike?
Entitled people demanding things from retail or restaurant workers.
6. What is your greatest extravagance?
Expensive meals when I’m traveling.
7. Which talent would you most like to have?
I wish I could predict the future!
8. Where would you like to live?
I love California so it’s hard to imagine being anywhere else. =)
9. What do you most value in your friends?
Honesty and loyalty.
10. Who is your favorite hero/heroine of fiction?
I have too many!
11. Which living person do you most admire?
All of my BIPOC colleagues who are doing so much to change this industry. People like
Beth Phelan and Patrice Caldwell are really amazing and do a lot for the publishing
12. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Patience, only because I myself am often impatient…
13. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
There are somethings I wish I was braver about.
14. What is your favorite and least favorite word?
My favorite word is “duyên phận” (Vietnamese), also known as yuánfèn 缘分 in Chinese,
which means fate or destiny. My least favorite word is “epitome."
15. What is your perfect environment for creative work?
Quiet time at my desktop with an exciting new ms opened up and ready to be read, no
emails in my inbox, no pending meetings.
16. What’s the weirdest thing about you that you’re willing to share?
Not sure if this is weird…but I don’t like chocolate very much and I don’t drink coffee
at all. Doesn’t seem weird to me but many people are often surprised by that. Haha.
17. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Food critic/reviewer. I’m very good at eating. 😉
18. What is the best book you’ve read in the past year? (Doesn’t have to be kidlit.)
I actually haven’t read much for pleasure last year and it’s too hard to pick a favorite
from one of my client’s mss. Can I say my favorite reading had been various fanfics on
19. What is the favorite book of your childhood?
Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
20. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God/Goddess say when you arrive?
I’d like to know that there was a good reason/plan for everything.
More about Thao:
Her page on the agency website: https://www.dijkstraagency.com/agent-page.php?agent_id=Le
A terrific podcast episode on 88 Cups of Tea: https://88cupsoftea.com/thao-le/