What’s great about being involved in social media are the people you meet, the friendships you form, and the support network that follows.
I would like to share an interview today with Joanna Lee Doster. Joanna has been a great support to me with my book and, in gratitude, I have invited her here to tell us her about her own work: two very different books, ‘Maximum Speed: Pushing the Limit’ and ‘Celebrity Bedroom Retreats.’
Hi Joanna! Without giving too much away, tell us about your latest book?
‘Maximum Speed: Pushing the Limit’ is the first of a series about a multi-generational American family involved in the exciting and highly competitive world of stock car racing. I chose stock car racing because I am such a huge fan. Also, car racing is a metaphor for life; some people are racing to something while others are racing away from something.
In the story, Sean, a young, champion race car driver, the CEO’s son of one of the most successful motor sports team in history, is almost killed in a fiery crash during a race. Then his best friend and teammate Jimmy, a top racer himself, is brutally kidnapped. What makes this even more perplexing is that Sean is beloved by his family, friends and fans. So why is someone out to get him? Will Sean and Jimmy be all right? Will their racing team be victorious? The family bands together to stop whoever it is behind the deadly plot. Will they find out in time? Some interesting life lessons come into play; winning at all costs, overcoming adversity, and putting to the test a moral dilemma: Would you break the law to protect a loved one?
Where do your ideas come from?
I would say that many of my ideas spring from my active imagination. Many times stories will materialize while I am sleeping and then I’ll have a clear concept when I finally sit down to write.
I have written non-fiction as well as fiction. Before I wrote ‘Maximum Speed’, my first published book was an interior design book called, ‘Celebrity Bedroom Retreats.’ It was conceived from a dream I had in which I wondered about what famous people’s bedrooms look like. Do their inner sanctums reflect the celebrities’ personalities and their creativity? For example, what did Albert Einstein’s bedroom look like? Did it have his theory of relativity E=mc2 scribbled on the walls? What books was he reading? What color was his bedroom?
I worked very hard on gathering forty celebrity bedrooms with such luminaries as: Cher, Lady Di, Patti LaBelle, Versace, Tyra Banks, Micky Rourke, Joan Rivers and many others. I am a designer but I didn’t design any of their houses. It was quite a challenge to write about and be allowed into their most private sanctuaries. I filled the book with loads of resources and decorating tips on “How To Make The Look,” the same as the celebrity bedrooms but on a budget.
Who is your most fascinating character, and why?
In ‘Maximum Speed’, the hero is Sean, the twenty-three year old champion race car driver who will do anything to protect his family and friends. Sean is an identical twin to his sister Avery, and both have had to endure very difficult childhoods; Sean’s made worse by living with the embarrassing stigma of a speech handicap. Anything or anyone not perfect is always unacceptable to Taylor, Sean’s mother. Sean and Avery each turn their lives around and become successful in their own endeavours; Sean, a top race car driver, and she the manager of her family’s nightclubs in trendy South Beach, Florida, which have become two of the most popular and well-run ones around.
Are any of your characters based on people you know or have met?
Yes, I say we collectively as writers; I think most writers absorb all kinds of experiences, and people we know or have known or have met along the way and subconsciously feed them into our memory banks for later withdrawals.
Which is your favourite chapter/scene, and why?
Without giving too much away… one of my favourite scenes is one that is full of terrible pain and torment. One of the good guys in the book comes to the agonizing realization that he is losing the love of his life and there is nothing he can do to change it. The excruciating pain he is goes through in that scene is so palpable and gut-wrenching and so universal to all of us. There are some very happy scenes but this one rings very true to life as well.
How did you come to write about a stock car racing family and car racing?
My sister-in-law was a former race car driver. A female who raced sports cars! Wow! That always impressed me along with her risk taking and derring-do. It did not take long for me to become an avid follower of motorsports as I got caught up in the sheer excitement of the power, the risk, and the danger. That’s when I began to watch stock car races with my husband. I became intrigued with the racers tremendous focus, determination, single mindedness, herculean strength, and a great grasp of the law of physics… how to maneuver a powerful two ton car at speeds of nearly 200 miles per hour and manage to withstand the constant G-forces, when to let up on the gas, how to take a turn safely, yet still keep ahead of a competitor, and how critical the performances of the pit crews are when the difference of a microsecond can determine if a car wins a race or takes second place. There are so many variables and strategies involved in winning a race. One wrong move, one missed opportunity, adds to the excitement of who will finish first!
People may think it’s just drivers racing around a racetrack for hours at a time, but what sacrifices these guys and gals make! They’re wrapped in restraints, confined and sitting in tiny bucket seats, withstanding extreme temperatures, exhaust fumes flowing back into their car, looking into the fierce sun for hours at a time. To me they are the unsung heroes. I am always impressed with people’s discipline, strength, drive, and tenacity. Maximum Speed’s story was written with these extraordinary people in mind.
What can readers expect from you next, and when can they expect it?
I am working on the second book in the ‘Maximum Speed: Pushing the Limit’ series. It will be an amazing prequel, going back in time with the main characters, laying the groundwork and foundation for the character’s early years and seeing what forces and influences shape them into the kinds of people they will become, good or evil. I’m hoping to finish it in a few months but I have had a lot of distractions lately.
What is your writing routine and how do you balance your writing with your other commitments?
Unfortunately, I am a night owl and do my best writing when everyone else is asleep and when I feel I have a jump on the world. However, sometimes my husband finds me fast asleep at the computer having typed unintelligible words… sometimes.
Do you ever suffer from writers block? If so, how do you overcome it?
My mind is always percolating so I never really suffer from writer’s block but I always feel pressed for time to get my writing in… and it’s always hard to go and hide out to write.
Name one of your favourite books and how it has influenced your life.
I was brought up with parents who were teachers and my dear father always had a huge library of books so I never went to a library until I was older. My father would give me sixteen classic books to read each summer. Reading great literature was something greatly encouraged in my family, and I will always be forever grateful. There are too many wonderful books to choose from as the one that influenced my life.
What secret will your readers will be surprised to hear about you?
My alter ego would have liked to have been a race car driver.
First and last line of a novel you would love to write?
As a child, whenever I was sent to stay with my aunt at her house in the country, I would stare out her back windows and see ghostly shadows in her neighbour’s gigantic front yard full of rustling trees. When it was wintertime and the trees were heavy with snow, they would be thrashing about in the wind, and the shining moonlight would play tricks with my seven year old eyes, as I imagined the trees beckoning me as they morphed into terrifying monsters who came to life. I can still call up these frightening images of the scary winter tree monsters, and the eerie stillness of that front yard, as if it were yesterday.
Quick Fire Questions:
5 star hotel or backpack? – 5 star hotel
Espresso or latte? – Decaf latte
Plotter or panster? – Plotter
Drummer or lead singer? – Neither..dancer
Favourite real person? – Agatha Christie, Alfred Hitchcock, my husband, Plato, Charles Dickens, Winston Churchill, Thomas Jefferson, etc.
A Favourite fictional character ? – Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, Poirot, Miss Marple, Bambi
Burger and chips or Michelin star? – Burger and chips
Theatre or cinema? – Cinema
Sports car or campervan? – Sports car
Safari or Cruise? Neither – A Jet, I’m always in a hurry to get where I’m going.
Thank you Jane! I enjoyed your interview immensely!
Joanna Lee Doster is a writer and author of the recently published book ‘Maximum Speed:Pushing The Limit’. Her previously published work includes ‘Celebrity Bedroom Retreats’ and a series of nationally syndicated celebrity profiles that also feature legendary sports figures. She has held executive positions in cable television, communications and the entertainment industry. She and her husband live in New York.
And thank you, Joanna. It’s great to discover more about you and your writing life! Do follow the links below to hook up with Joanna and find her book:
Joanna Lee Doster’s links:
My Goodreads author page:
Maximum Speed: Pushing the Limit is available in both ebook and paperback editions.