DALLAS, May 8, 2012 — Joanna Lee Doster is the 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 of legendary sports figures.
Doster has held executive positions in cable television, communications, and the entertainment industry.
Carter: Before the entertainment industry, you used to be a teacher. How did you transition into the entertainment industry and writing?
Joanna Doster: My passion for the industry started with my upbringing. My dad’s massive library in his home, which housed over ten thousand books, had just as many biographies of movie stars as there were history books. I guess my brother and I had it in our DNA because we naturally become infatuated with movies and television.
Dad always took us to see the latest blockbuster movies and he loved his favorite television shows. Under his tutelage, I learned to figure out whodunit before the end of the show.
I guess it all rubbed off on us. My brother went to college and studied filmmaking and even directed a few movies but also wrote books. One of his books was turned into a made-for-TV movie.
I had a very serious childhood disease when I was 18 months. This not only gave me the bulldog mentality to overcome obstacles, but also a huge passion for special needs. I graduated from NYU at twenty years old with a Masters in Special Education for Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
So there I was twenty years old, teaching special needs children.
I did this for ten years; it was challenging and fulfilling, but eventually the tug for me to do creative things became too powerful to ignore. I began exploring my other interests or passions. I have always loved the arts, antiques, and interior designing. Returning to school, I got my interior design degree.
I ended up working for Arts & Entertainment and the Learning Channel, and then I moved to New York to work for a producer. During this time I had a dream; when famous people are creating and dreaming what do their environments look like? I always had this fascination as a kid when we would visit relatives, and they would take your coats and put them in the bedroom; I was awe struck. This is their inner sanctum. This is a true psychological snap shot of what people are like. People’s bedrooms really reflect their personalities. I woke up and thought, oh my God, I’ve got to write a book about this!
Carter: What was that process like, in composing the Celebrity Bedrooms book? Did you face any obstacles?
JD: I started by calling celebrity agents and that was a dead end. So I did some sleuthing and I would contact their interior decorators.
The first call I made was to Ron Wilson who did Cher’s.
Paige Rense publisher of architectural digest found out about my book and told all the decorators that she would freeze them out of Architectural Digest because she owned the pictures of celebrity homes from the designers, and that if they were to appear in my book she would black ball them from the publication.
Do you think that bothered me? No!
So the designers and I just found a way to work around the problem. I covered such stars as Lady Di, Versace, Joan Rivers, Paula Abdul, Patti Labelle, Tyra Banks, Mickey Rourke, and Mary Tyler Moore.
I was rejected by 40 publishing houses and everyone told me to give up. I refused. After contacting Rockport Publisher I got the deal.
Carter: Many would have given up when they felt resistance from the industry, yet you persevered on. Where does that strength and determination come from?
JD: My motivation started when I was in the hospital. Similar to projects I have taken on in my career, it’s like crawling from the bottom of the barrel and trying to get to the top. If anyone says no, I say yes I’m going to do it!
Carter: How did you go from writing nonfiction to not only fiction, but a fiction story centered in the world of stock car racing?
JD: My sister-in-law is a race car driver, so she kind of became my hero, and my book has a female champion racer. I became intrigued with stock car racing when I began to realize that it’s not just drivers going aimlessly around tracks. It takes a tremendous amount of discipline, endurance, precision, and focus.
Yet again it was a dream where I came up with the idea of writing a story. Three years ago I had a dream about this family and they came alive in my head. I woke up and put pen to paper. I couldn’t sleep at night; in my dream they told me what to write.
I transitioned from my previous nonfiction book to following the need to express myself with expansive epic stories, powerful characters with generational back stories. I wrote about three generations of a stock car racing family. I like to explore the different kinds of interactions my characters have and how they maneuver throughout their lives. My book became a metaphor for life.
People are racing to or away from something. It’s not so much the destination that determines the type of person they are, it’s the journey to the finish lines that determines that. My main characters have flaws and handicaps that most of them overcome. Everyone chooses the path they take in life and how they travel on that path defines them.
My dear brother paid me the highest compliment when my book came out. He said, “Dad would have been so proud of you.”
Joanna Doster was a fighter from the very beginning, overcoming a childhood disease, and she kept that bulldog mentality throughout her life, saying yes when everyone else would tell her no. A lot of lessons away from this interview, but none greater than the sheer power of perseverance, determination, and believing in one’s self. The interview ended with one last question.
Carter: Do you have a motto you live by?
Carter Lee is the author of, When Jonathan Cried for Me, President of Innovative Social Dynamics LLC., is a professional speaker, and is the co-host of Really Genius Radio. To learn more about his media appearances, radio show, book, or to schedule an appearance or speaking engagement visit www.innovativesocialdynamics.com
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