Raychelle: Joanna, Thank you for sharing your story with our readers.
Joanna: Thank you, Raychelle, for inviting me to be your guest on The Writer’s Block!
1) Describe your journey as an author/writer.
Reading and writing has always been in my family’s DNA. My father had thousands of books in our home library so we naturally learned to revere books. My father and brother have written many books, although in different genres from mine. I have written profiles of people in Hollywood and legendary athletes. I also wrote interior design columns and had previously published a non-fiction book with a traditional publisher, Celebrity Bedroom Retreats (Rockport Publishers).
Lately my imagination has taken me on a different journey in the world of fiction, most likely because of a life-long love of mysteries and a desire to tell epic stories. I had these extraordinary characters rolling around in my head and they compelled me to write my first story of fiction. That story became the thriller Maximum Speed: Pushing the Limit.
2) Do you specialize in any particular genre(s)?
Well, as I mentioned previously, I did publish a book on interior design my other love with a traditional publisher. But now that I am focused on fiction, my genres include mystery/thrillers and action-adventures.
3) Who are your favorite authors? How do they inspire your work?
I am an avid reader and have a long list of favorite authors. A few of them include: Wilkie Collins, Mary Shelley, The Bronte sisters, Elizabeth George, Erle Stanley Gardner, Dashiell Hammett, Harlan Coben, Michael Connelly, P.D. James, Agatha Christie. Ian Fleming, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the latest crop of fabulously talented indie writers too numerous to mention.
4) Tell us about your most current project, Maximum Speed: Pushing the Limit. Is it part of a series?
I could have written about something a little less challenging, but I followed where my characters led me. In the case of Maximum Speed, this exciting group of characters was from the world of auto-racing. Now, I’m a big fan of motorsports. I first caught the bug when my husband took me to see a few races. I have been enthralled with the sport ever since. It was a surprise to me, being a city girl more at home with the shops on Fifth Avenue, but I couldn’t deny my alter ego’s desire to become a female racer, daredevil, and stock car racing fulfilled that urge in me.
So Maximum Speed became an adrenaline-charged thriller about three generations of an extraordinary stock car racing family who get caught up in a web of danger when suspicious things begin to happen to their DMS racing team: their twenty-three year old racing champion son is almost killed in a fiery crash and another teammate is brutally kidnapped. Someone or several someones are hell-bent on preventing the Devlin family and their DMS motorsports team from winning their third championship. There are many surprise twists and turns in the story: murder, switching alliances, family intrigue, romance, heroics, sabotage and just plain fun. The characters are multi-layered and tug at your heart strings whether they are good or evil.
People always ask me what happens to them after the book ends and I’m working on the sequel to address those questions. Maximum Speed will be a series. Ultimately, there will be a third book to complete the series.
5) How did you choose your publisher? Describe that process.
I knew that it would be an easier journey if I published this book with an indie publisher. I had gone through the process before when I helped to publish my father’s book, The Ancient Aztecs with the indie publisher iUniverse, who is now the indie publisher for other family members. Their process is very organized and caters to the authors. The people at iUniverse were always very helpful and dedicated to me and did a great job in bringing my book to fruition.
6) How do you promote your work? What strategies have been the most successful?
Promoting a book is probably one of the most difficult things to do. I have tried using a publicist and did my best to get reviews in newspapers and other media. The one thing I have learned is, for some reason if your book is not published by a traditional publishing house, book review periodicals tend to ignore you.
So, the next best way to promote your book is through recommendations of word-of-mouth. I have greatly benefited from using social networks such as Facebook and Twitter and thank God for all the other talented indie authors who have been instrumental in helping me get the word out. I was astounded by the reach of social networking! I now have contacts all over the world.
7) What else have you written/published?
I wrote Celebrity Bedroom Retreats: Professional Designers’ Secrets from 40 Star Bedrooms, an interior design book I published through Rockport Publishers.
8) What do you plan to accomplish in 2012?
Since Maximum Speed is a natural for a blockbuster feature film or as an episodic television series, or made for TV movie, it is garnering interest in Hollywood where I have representation, and they are actively pursuing those avenues for me this year. I shall continue to write. I have several new stories in the works.
9) What advice would you give to budding writers?
I would encourage writers to trust their instincts in writing and let their characters live and breathe and let them tell their stories. Just keep on writing. Write first and then edit after. Don’t keep polishing it first…let it flow then you can edit.
10) What is your definition of success as a writer?
One of the hardest things about writing a book or screenplay or any writing project is to finish it. A successful writer is someone who conceives of an idea and takes it to its completion whether it is a book or some other written form.
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.