Amy M. Le is an author based in Oklahoma City. Inspired by her incredible late mother, Le left her job to write her story. Since then, she’s debuted her first novel,Snow in Vietnam, a “historical women’s fiction novel based on my family’s escape from war-torn Vietnam following the fall of Saigon,” and launched Quill Hawk Company, her own publishing company geared towards amplifying diversity in storytelling and promoting the work of indie authors, in addition to beginning a new book series. When she’s not writing, Le serves on the board of the Vietnamese Boat People podcast, “a nonprofit devoted to preserving stories of the Vietnamese diaspora.” Her advice to young artists? “ Explore it. Set time for it. Do it.” Le encourages them to cultivate a strong support circle to learn and gain inspiration from, so they can do the same for others down the road. Read on to learn more about Amy M. Le and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
Name: Amy M. Le
Heritage: Vietnamese American (1.5 generation)
Current City: Oklahoma City
Current project: Quill Hawk Publishing business
What are some of your favorite credits/projects:
Debuting my first novel as an emerging author in 2019 was by far one of the most rewarding projects. It took me two painful years of researching about the Vietnam War and the boat people, traveling to Vietnam, interviewing war veterans and refugees… I cried a lot and unearthed a lot of my cultural identity.Snow in Vietnam is an historical women’s fiction novel based on my family’s escape from war-torn Vietnam following the fall of Saigon. Two books followed to encompass the Snow trilogy. I am now working on a new series… thePhoenix series… real stories of deep trauma and the power of human resilience. My second favorite project is launching my publishing company, Quill Hawk Publishing. It is my mission to amplify diverse voices through storytelling and helping emerging authors indie publish their work. I take pride and joy seeing someone achieve their dreams of publishing a book at an affordable price. I’m personally invested in the author’s journey beyond publication and it excites me to see how their book changes their lives!
Any advice for young people getting into the arts?
First, surround yourself around people in the same arts so you can learn and be inspired. Then pay it forward to teach and inspire others. If you want to earn a living doing what you love, treat your passion like a job. When we work for a company, we hustle hard by holding ourselves accountable with deadlines, budget, ROIs, time management, reward and recognition, etc. We make our bosses shine so that we can get a promotion or bonus. Why wouldn’t we do that for ourselves when we pursue the arts? We also tend to make excuses or have self doubt about our talents, but when there is a fire and a calling inside, it means we were meant to do it. Explore it. Set time for it. Do it. This is a journey and I hope all of us creatives can appreciate that. Set milestones and goals so that when you look back, you can see and appreciate how far you’ve come. Be sure to celebrate those successes along the way.
How did you get your start?
In February 2017 my mother… my everything… passed away from lung cancer. My world shattered. My strong and courageous mom who sold drugs in the black market in communist Vietnam, who suffered five days in pirate-infested waters of the South China Sea in a rickety shrimp trawler, who bossed up to get me to America so that I could have a life-saving surgery, suddenly became frail, forgetful, and bone-thin. To honor her, I quit my job, walked away from the golden handcuffs, and wrote her story. I just never looked back. Today I have five published books, more on the way, and a few that I published via Quill Hawk Publishing for other writers who had a story to tell.
Do you have any favorite moments in your career that you'd like to share?
My favorite moment would have to be the first time I unboxed my book,Snow in Vietnam, and the tears flowed. All the hard work… all the pain and sleepless nights spent alone hunched over my laptop, all the memories of my mom flooding through me… It was overwhelming. I cried tears of relief and excitement holding my book baby in my hands for the first time! I was suddenly an AUTHOR!
What have you found is the biggest challenge in your career?
Marketing has been the biggest challenge because it is hard to promote oneself and because it costs money. As an author, if you want to be read, you have to market and promote your brand as well as your work. Aligning yourself with industry experts and building relationships with those you network with are critical business practices. Staying within budget is also hard because I like to spend money!
What are some interesting facts about yourself?
I’m a Vietnam War survivor and Congenital Heart Defect Warrior. I can’t whistle or write romance for the life of me and was once recruited by the FBI to work as a translator! Aside from being the CEO of Quill Hawk Publishing, I am also a co-founder of The Heart Community Collection, an online resource for the CHD community. I am no stranger to hustling. It started when I was seven years old, selling a stick of gum for a quarter in 1981, and selling ceramic vases and silk flowers at a flea market, to stocking shelves at Payless Shoesource, and reading textbooks for the visually impaired. In college I wanted to be a journalist and news anchor but a professor told me I didn’t have the right look or skill. Maybe at the time I didn’t but I let that professor sway me from a dream. Life is about growth and I hope everyone gives themselves grace to fail and learn so that they can reach their full potential.
Do you have any organizations or non profits you work with you’d like to highlight?
I serve on the board of the Vietnamese Boat People podcast, a nonprofit devoted to preserving stories of the Vietnamese diaspora. I love the work they are doing, especially the conversation starter kits, which help open the dialogue to understanding one’s family history and past experiences.
What skills did you find to be the most helpful in your career?
Being able to bring calm out of chaos through diplomacy is one of my greatest skills. It served me well working at a corporation with a board of directors and the C-suite. It continues to serve me well in every facet of my life. It starts with not taking things personally and accepting that everyone is human, which means we all have flaws, opinions, and emotions. Our background is the foundation of our behaviors and viewpoints. So instead of being defensive, I seek to understand the drive behind the actions.
How do you deal with writer's block?
I write drunk and edit sober so when I have writer’s block, I drink wine, scotch, moonshine… whatever it takes to get a good buzz going. And then I am fearless. I let the emotions transfer to my fingers and type away. Sometimes it is brilliant work and other times it is garbage but it’s 1000 words more than what I had before! I’m the kind of person who needs to isolate myself with no distractions. No music, no screaming kids, no barking dogs, no neighbors doing a fly-by to drop off food. Just me, my wine, maybe a cigar, and the laptop!
Is there anything else you would like to share about yourself?
I was recently profiled along with fifteen other women in a book titled Asian Women Trailblazers Who BossUp. This book showcases women who’ve given themselves authorization to be their true authentic selves, to narrate their own life story, and to do what fuels their fire. It is one of my biggest achievements because it validates my belief that when you unapologetically be yourself and do what makes you happy, you inspire others to do the same. Autographed copies of the book can be purchased here (bit.ly/bossupbook-amyle) and supports both The Banh Mi Chronicles and Vietnamese Boat People podcasts, two platforms dedicated to preserving history and amplifying AAPI voices. You can also purchase an ebook on Amazon which supports Girls, Inc.
To find out more about Amy M. Le, please visit her at:
Comments will be approved before showing up.