Q&A With Amy M. Le
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Q&A With Amy M. Le
Amy M. Le is both an author and the founder of Quill Hawk Publishing which is a woman owned Asian American company that helps writers indie publish their books. Amy is the author of Snow in Vietnam, Snows Kitchen, Snow in Seattle, The Snow Trilogy & her recent release co-authored with Lynn Thomas The Copper Phoenix.
Q: Amy, would you like to tell the readers of the blog and I a little about The Copper Phoenix and how you and Lynn Thomas came up with the concept for the novel? What was it like co-authoring the book with Lynn Thomas?
A: This book was a ghostwriting project. Lynn and I worked together and at one of our board meetings, she shared parts of her story with me. I later agreed to ghostwrite her story and spent countless hours recording her. It took four years to write given the trauma she endured and the vicarious trauma I inherited listening to her recount her years of abuse. It was horrific and quite traumatic, often triggering memories for both of us. The book was published in March 2023 and a month later, Lynn passed from her heroic fight with colon cancer. It was imperative we published this book in time for her to see her story come to life as she hoped her story would help others heal.
Q: Do you use bits and pieces of real people to create your characters within your stories that take place in Vietnam?
A: Yes, I love writing auto fiction because they say real life is stranger than fiction. My characters are based on real people and making it fiction allows me to be creative to craft stories of shared experiences. Some characters are completely fictitious because they serve a purpose to bring the story and plot together.
Q: What made you start your own publishing company Quill Hawk Publishing? How did the idea come about?
A: When my first novel was ready for publication, I went through the pitching and querying process. Even after 30+ rejections and one offer of publication from a small press, I turned down the offer and decided to self-publish. It was a frustrating experience, and I almost abandoned the book altogether. However, since Snow in Vietnam was my mom’s story, I couldn’t abandon it. Eventually, I figured it out on my own. I started Quill Hawk Publishing and opened the doors to other indie authors back in August 2022. I didn’t want other writers to give up and face the same dilemma and frustrations as me. It is a lonely experience and if you don’t have a support system to help you, it’s defeating. Now, we help writers from beginning to end and beyond with promotion and marketing, giving them the tools and guidance they need to succeed.
Q: Are you currently writing your next book now? If so can you reveal any details or is it too early to say just yet?
A: I am writing two books now; one is a middle-grade children’s book titled Bus Stop Buddies, co-authored with my son, Preston Walls, and will be published under my pen name, Adam Angel, which is an anagram of my middle name, Magdalena. It is a book about the power of friendship with tones of addressing bullying. The other book is my memoir, From Broken to Brave: Memoir of a Heart Warrior, which recounts all the times I’ve felt broken and the lessons I learned in order to become brave.
Q: What advice would you give to anyone wanting to write and start their own publishing company as you have done?
A: To be a great writer you have to read a lot of books in all genres. Everyone has a story but not everyone can be a writer. You have to know the mechanics and concepts of writing, so taking masterclasses such as Jack Grapes’ Method Writing, or attending conferences to learn and network, such as the AWP Conference, is key to getting started. Starting a company is hard. No one understands the challenges of entrepreneurship until they jump in and learn along the way. Joining business groups and reading on everything from tax laws to leadership skills is important. Finding mentors is something people don’t do for whatever reason but it is important to find several mentors who can develop you in facets of your life and career.
Q: If Hollywood were to get the rights to your work (if they haven’t yet) who would be your ideal cast to play the characters you created?
A: I had the opportunity to pitch my book, Snow in Vietnam, to Will Smith’s production company, Westbrook Studios. That was a question they asked and luckily, I had my pitch packet ready. You can find it on Storyrocket, a platform that connects writers to producers. An Thien Phan or Hong Chau are my picks to play the main character of Snow. The amazing Michelle Yeoh for my character Mrs. Tran. Of course, for The Copper Phoenix, I’d love Sophie Turner to play the heroine, Hugh Jackman to play the man who rescues her, and Josh Holloway as the drunk dad.
Q: What lessons do you hope readers learn after reading your books?
A: That we are all stronger than we think and that forgiveness, while hard, is the key to healing and loving ourselves. No one is free from hardships; some face more challenges than others. However, it is important to remember that we are the way we are not because there is something wrong with us but because of something that happened to us. We are the authors of our life and can change the direction of the narrative to give ourselves that happy ending. It takes courage and time, but if we can take one step at a time each day, we will find that fierce.