Who is on the plum tree?
Meet Joanna Lee Doster: Author of “Maximum Speed: Pushing the Limit”
When my beloved father passed away two years ago at the age of ninety-eight, my brother and I discovered a lot of things we never knew about him. We already knew that for over forty years he was a scholarly, dedicated college professor of political science. He was always writing books and articles, many on Latin America. After going through his things, we found a letter from the movie studio Warner Brothers, hiring my father to do research for their 1939 movie, Juarez, about a Mexican revolutionary. We then found out from a relative that Dad’s dream was to go to Hollywood and become a film critic but due to his “depression era” thinking, he decided to take the safe path and become a college professor instead.
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. He recently published a few more books.
I followed in my mother’s footsteps and began teaching deaf children. It was challenging and fulfilling for many years, but eventually the tug for me to do creative things became too powerful to ignore. I began expIoring my other interests or passions. I have always loved the arts, antiques and interior designing. I have also loved writing stories. Returning to school, I got my interior design degree.
I began writing pilots for television shows. Though I tried, I never got a chance to work in television production but I did begin to get writing profile jobs for a major film and television magazine. I worked for entertainment companies and then in the mid-nineties, I had a dream about what do famous peoples’ bedrooms look like. When Einstein would go to sleep what books were on his bedside table? What art was on the walls? What did the designer Versace’s bedroom look like, or Princess Di’s? And so my first book was born, “Celebrity Bedroom Retreats” (Rockport Publishers). What a challenge. It took me six years of research to find and write about forty famous people’s inner sanctums. I didn’t design their bedrooms but told the stories of how their designers interpreted what the stars wanted and how it reflected their personalities. My dear father was thrilled for me.
A few years ago, my husband began to take me to see stock car races. I was hooked. I found out my sister-in-law had been a car racer. Wow! A female racer! Inspiration struck! My family’s powerful voices rattled around in my head and urged me to put pen to paper. So I made the leap from writing non-fiction books and decorating columns, to writing fiction. I had never considered writing fiction before, other than trying to create television show ideas. Then I found myself driven by a compelling need to express myself with expansive, epic stories, complex characters with generational back stories leading up to the present. Somehow everything came together like the commercial for peanut butter running into a chocolate candy bar, a delicious combination! I knew I had to write this stock car racing thriller. It became my next big challenge. I thoroughly immersed myself in that adrenaline-packed world of car racing with all of its technology and terms. I became intrigued with the racers’ focus, determination, herculean strength, and grit. Thus, “Maximum Speed: Pushing the Limit” was created. It’s about three generations of a prominent family with deep roots in stock car racing.
My book is a metaphor for life. People are racing to or away from something. It’s not so much their destination that determines the type of person they are. It’s their journey to the finish line that determines that. 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.” I am currently working on my second book in the “Maximum Speed” series. I love writing even more now that I have entered that exciting but difficult realm of writing fiction. I truly love tapping into my imagination and I seem to have a reservoir full of stories in my head. The bad thing is they keep me up late at night. My brain never shuts off.