Thao Le

YA fantasy

In Revision

Janella is a Filipino-American YA writer represented by Thao Le of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. She graduated from Emerson College with a degree in Writing, Literature, and Publishing, but knew she always wanted to be a writer from the moment she got hooked on Harry Potter fanfiction. Since then, she’s been crafting fantastical stories and worlds of her own design, and currently resides in Massachusetts where she is a team member of the Boston Teen Author Festival.

I graduated from Emerson College with a degree in Writing, Literature, and Publishing—concentrating mostly on the writing and publishing components, gearing my focus toward YA. Within that time, I completed numerous publishing, copyediting, and editorial internships from various companies, and spent a year diving into the slush pile as a YA/MG intern for the Bent Agency. Along with these experiences, I’m also lucky enough to be a part of an insanely talented critique group, for whom I’ve helped with query letters, manuscript reads, agent research, brainstorming, and more. I was also thrilled to team up with Axie Oh as Pitch Wars co-mentors in YA this year, an experience which truly made me see how rewarding and exciting mentoring is in all stages of the process.
But on the personal side, I’ve dealt with as many writing lows as I’ve enjoyed the highs. I’ve been rejected, killed darlings, lost sanity in revisions, suffered in the querying trenches, and more. Writing isn’t always easy, but I’ve learned that each experience teaches you something, and that you should always seek the silver lining in everything you do. While I love providing advice on writing and publishing in general when I can, I’m also very attuned to the personal and emotional sides of the journey, and wish to provide my mentee with support and real talk when needed.

I’m always drawn to fantasy or stories with fantastical elements that have a darker edge to them, yet are beautiful in their darkness. I love worlds I’ve never seen before, that suck me in and feel alive as the characters do on the page. I’m crazy for morally gray characters, heroes and villains alike who break the mold, who make it impossible for me not to root for them. I also love lyrical writing, adventure, stories of sisterhood/friendship/familial love, and romances that range from the enticing slow burn to the hate-to-love. While love doesn’t have to play a huge part, I’m always drawn to stories with strong relationships overall. I’m also always on the look out for diverse voices and stories!
But when it comes down to it, I’m looking for a story with a voice that will make me feel something. If you can make me laugh, cry, or feel a whole variety of emotions, then I’m already intrigued and invested. I truly do love the sort of stories that fall within my reading tastes, but I go absolutely crazy for the stories I didn’t know I was looking for, and a voice that stays with me even off the page.
I’m always craving YA SFF, but I’m a fan of fantasy with a dark edge, and stories that feel fresh and new to me. Anything with mythology and folklore, high concept premises with beautiful writing, morally ambiguous heroes and villains, strong relationships (sisters, family, friends, enemies, etc.), and a sense of adventure are my kryptonite.
I’m very communicative and collaborative in my critiquing style. I love brainstorming ideas and discussing notes via Skype, email, etc., and am always up for whatever strategy helps my potential mentee the most. While I’m a supportive cheerleader, I’m also honest with my critiques and advice. On a story level, I love looking at big picture and small scene details, strengthening character development, and bringing out all those feels and emotions.
Aside from critiquing, I’m always willing to listen, answer questions, and provide as much support as I can in regards to the highs, lows, and in-betweens of this process. Overall, I really just want to be there for my mentee—not just as a mentor, but a friend as well.
In a mentee, I’m hoping to find someone who is passionate, hardworking, and will do what it takes to get his or her manuscript in the best shape possible. My ideal mentee is also someone who’s in it for the long haul, who doesn’t give up or shy away from criticism, and is always open to learning new things and challenging him or herself.
Also, forewarning my future mentee, I like to laugh…a lot. Too much, maybe. As such, I vibe the best with someone who’s positive and has a great sense of humor, who takes writing seriously but doesn’t take themselves too seriously. The journey to publication can be a long, difficult one, but I do believe a positive attitude and a bit of lightness can make all the difference.
I LOVE books with a unique sense of worldbuilding and strong characters a la Leigh Bardugo. Growing up on Disney was what kept me dreaming, and being obsessed with Harry Potter was what got me writing. TV shows that had the most impact on me were Veronica Mars, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, ATLA, and more. I’m also a huge fan of music of all kinds and musicals all across the board.