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A love of books from a very early age
Vannaled's family lives in Vientiane, where he had an unusual feature for a Lao childhood at that time: Books. His parents believed in the importance of education and reading, and sent him to a preschool at the age of 3.
Two years later, the family was struck by bad luck. Their house burned down in a fire. Five-year-old Vannaled ran and got his books before running out the door.
One day when he was 11, Vannaled was sitting between two teachers who were speaking English to each other. At that time he didn't understand a word of it but vowed to learn. He began to study English in secondary school, and can now carry on a conversation comfortably.
While working as a waiter, Vannaled met Sasha, who gave him some books. "I've always wanted to be a writer," Vannaled told Sasha. Sasha had never heard anyone in Laos say that before, so he encouraged Vannaled to contact Khamla and discuss working at Big Brother Mouse.
Soon after that, Vannaled moved to Luang Prabang. For a year he wrote stories, polished them, had them turned down, helped at book parties, wrote more stories, and had them turned down, as well. But his perseverance, and feedback from others, paid off. His first book of stories, The Naughty Rabbit was accepted after a year of effort. He followed that with I Will See the Moon. Then he moved into new subject matter: He collected personal accounts to create an oral history, Life in the War. Vannalet has now returned to Vientiane to be closer to his family, but he continues to do translations for us.
In the evening Vannaled can often be found playing guitar and singing with his friends around the night market in Luang Prabang. If you listen hard enough can be heard dispensing his favorite advice, "Don't be afraid, you can be anything you want to be."