“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” ―Nelson Mandela
Author/Publisher Virginia Dori is a high technology and marketing professional turned novelist, after migrating to the U.S in 1981 from the Philippines. After overcoming the loss of her son and battling Breast Cancer she released her novel, “Walk with Destiny” which has sold over 100,000 copies. With three new books in the works and a new tech company on the rise, Virginia Dori is sure to take the literary and tech worlds by storm.
LS: What inspired your literary journey?
VD: Before I immigrated to the U.S. about 40 years ago, I had traveled to about 40 plus countries already. My father, who was a Merchant Marine, and he introduced me to travel outside of the Philippines. I spent a lot of time collecting my thoughts and recollecting my many travels by writing in journals. I used to tell myself that one day I was going to write a memoir inspired by the places and the people I have met along the way. In 2000 I started writing, which was also the year that I got laid off from an executive position. In 2003, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. So I had to put my writing on hold and take charge of my health. I thought I was going to be ready to complete the book by the fall of 2006, but I lost my youngest son in a car accident. That was more devastating than the cancer diagnosis two years earlier. It was very hard; I thought I was not going to recover from that. So I continued to try and recover, heal through the grief of losing my son, and at the same time finish the novel. I. finished and launched the book in 2010.
LS: What has the publishing process been like for you as a self-published author?
VD: I’m glad I decided to self publish. I have sold close to 100,000 copies, and sales have picked up in Europe, Asia, as well as the U.S. So I feel pretty good about that. The difficult task of a first-time novelist that is not a celebrity is that you may never get to the top of the New York Times bestseller list. There was also a lot of discrimination in the industry and a novice novelist like me has a slim chance of getting a larger publication, getting promoted on mainstream television, or getting a chance of being pitched to investors, producers, and directors. So I had to find other creative ways to get myself out there. For first-time authors like me, people needed to buy me first and then they eventually would buy my book.
LS: What inspires your pen?
VD: My tenacity and my will to succeed, and the fact that I’ve always loved to learn which is a way of life for me.
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LS: Having great support throughout your journey is very important. Who has been your strongest support?
VD: My son, my grandkids, and I also have a network of strong women leaders in the tech industry.
LS: How many books have you written so far?
VD: One and I have three new titles in the works right now. It’s funny, I would listen to interviews where authors would say they were writing three or four books at one time. I couldn’t understand how they could focus on writing multiple books. Now I understand because sometimes you get ideas that don’t fit a certain title. You might wake up in the middle of the night, or be cooking dinner, and you come up with an idea. That idea or that storyline may not belong to one particular book either. Then you find yourself juggling three books; it’s ideal for authors.
LS: You have inspired so many people along your journey. What do you want readers to get from your book?
VD: I want them to get the fact that you can achieve success without going through so many trials. What I mean is, a lot of things happening for a reason. The way we measure success right now is you need to fall and be at the bottom before you recover and then become a success. A lot of those characters in my book are good people that nurture their families, from the first generation, the second generation, to the third generation. They nurture the family legacy and grow their business through the ups and downs. I want to celebrate people that are making their lives better, not just the bad people who became good.
LS: You talked a little bit about racism in the publishing industry. What was the most difficult part of the publishing process? How did you push past those difficulties?
VD: I had the hardest time getting a mainstream publisher, no one would accept my manuscripts. So I went to do my self-publishing online; it’s print on demand. So my books are not on the shelves of Barnes & Noble or any bookstore. I’m not on the mainstream bookshelf. And that’s the other thing that I need to figure out and conquer as a self-published author.
LS: What’s the most important element of a good writer?
VD: The most important element is how you touch people’s hearts when they read your book.
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LS: Why is it that when women assert themselves they are considered aggressive and not ambitious?
VD: It’s the fact that they’re not used to it; from when I entered the workforce in the 80s, and now it’s 2020. As women, we have to express our ideas and our opinions to a room full of men, especially in the tech industry. So as a woman, as a minority, I need to work three times harder to compete with them. But I was able to do it.
LS: What changes do you think needs to be made in corporate America?
VD: Looking at men and women the same. They have to look at the skills, and your mental capacity, what can they contribute, what benefits they can gain from your knowledge. And that should be paid and promoted the same way. It’s all about inspiring the next generation.
LS: So what’s next?
VD: I was the CEO of a Stealth Startup in software, dealing with the cybersecurity space and financial technology. We were supposed to launch our company in 2021 but it was sold in November of 2020. So I’m working on some consulting projects, working on my next book release, enjoying the new phase of my life.