10 Questions for Sandra Dijkstra, Founder, owner and president of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency


Sandra Dijkstra is the founder, owner and president of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. She is an agent for authors in the arenas of fiction and non-fiction. On the literary fiction side, her roster of authors includes Chitra Divakaruni, Maxine Hong Kingston, Anchee Min, Lisa See, Amy Tan and Luis Urrea.

What brought you to Del Mar?

My husband’s position at UCSD brought us to the San Diego area. We first rented in La Jolla, then in Del Mar. Because we liked it so much, we decided to purchase a home here. Our first neighbors on Cuchara were the amazing Louise and Dave Keeling (who knew that he was world-famous!) and their growing brood of brilliant kids. Early on, we learned from them what a community-spirited village Del Mar is. Then, we met good and brave souls Marshall and Walta Ross, two of Del Mar’s original heroes, not to mention Zel and Gene Schwartz, each of whom brought his/her own vision to the future of our town and country too. These days, the Hollidays incarnate that spirit, along with the Emersons and the many good folks who work together to keep the green in Del Mar, and beyond.

What makes Del Mar special to you?

The people, their community spirit and the special Del Mar ambience they strove to safeguard. Also, the ocean, which continues to give me calm. And Del Mar’s vegetation, which gives us all beauty.

If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add, subtract or improve in Del Mar?

On the green side, the traffic on Coast Highway. On the foodie side, I’m looking forward to checking out the new L’Auberge, because we still don’t have restaurants of the quality of those in La Jolla. On the bookstore side, I miss Esmeralda’s, and want us all to support Earth Song and Book Works. On the art side, why can Oceanside, Escondido and Pacific Beach (in its library) have museums (and/or art exhibitions) and Del Mar not? Many collectors reside here and, together, maybe we could make it happen. And on the subtract side: The ever-growing mansions.

Who or what inspires you?

On the national scene: Barack and Michelle Obama, who really do want to bring change we need to America! On our home turf, Anne and James Hubbell, whose hope for the future never dies. They work to make that vision happen in art and in life too.

If you hosted a dinner party for eight, whom (living or deceased) would you invite?

I’d love to sit down one more time with our dearly departed friends, Herbert and Inge Marcuse, whose vision of a better America inspired us from the start. I’d also invite Bill Goodell, Ethel Greene and Harry Sternberg, each of whom brought so much joy and also pain to their art and to the local and national art scene. Then, not to forget, the father of American communications studies, Herbert Schiller, whose dear wife Anita does bring Herb along in spirit when we dine together. I’d also love to see my mother once more, who didn’t live to see the birth and success of my literary agency, but who is cheering me on from above. Also, local authors Mike Davis and Chalmers Johnson and Janell Cannon, whom we proudly represent and whose visions of the world and of writing and of art are a constant inspiration.

What are you currently reading?

“House of Mirth,” Edith Wharton’s amazing critique of Gilded Age America. I just caught up with another amazing classic, Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.” I must confess that both reads are work-related, in that two of our authors are writing novels based on these masters’ works. And, for fun, I’m about to start Diane Johnston’s new “Lulu in Marrakech.”

What is your most prized possession?

My husband, Bram Dijkstra, who is not a “possession” at all, but who is my great partner in life and in our joy, collecting paintings (and some sculpture too) that speak to us. It would be almost impossible to say which is most prized, because they are all our children. (Next in line, I’d list our getaway place in Pine Hills, Julian, which offers us the peace and balance that nature’s domination affords).

What do you do for fun?

Hike, swim and read. Politics is a continuing concern, though I wouldn’t call it a “hobby.”

Describe your greatest accomplishment.

A good marriage, which was then the bedrock for my launching the Dijkstra Agency. A terrific team at the Dijkstra Agency, with whom it’s great fun to work and play.

What is your motto or philosophy of life?

Work for beauty and knowledge, and against those who would destroy them.

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