JoeyPinkney.com Exclusive Interview
5 Minutes, 5 Questions With…
Folake Taylor, author of The Only Way is Up: The Journey of an Immigrant
(Arrabon Ventures )
The Only Way is Up: The Journey of an Immigrant features the author’s experiences and views on pertinent life-issues as an immigrant to the United States of America. Though the objective is to empower women, African Americans and immigrants, the message of hope is of relevance to a general audience.
Some of the issues that are the focus of this book are:
- Identity & Gender roles
- Health & Preventive medicine
- Finding a mate
- Relationships & Family
- Single parenthood
- Teenage pregnancies
- Diet & Nutrition
- Global exposure
- Positivity & Loving yourself
- Spirituality and faith
- Life outside the United States
Though non-fiction, it is a fun and easy read that touches on both triumphs and failures as well as everyday events that we can relate to. The book communicates a “can-do” attitude and paints a picture of possibilities. Need motivation? Looking for fulfilment? Look no further….
Joey Pinkney: Where did you get the idea and inspiration to write The Only Way Is Up?
Folake Taylor: The Inspiration for The Only Way is Up partly came from watching my husband interact with our toddler. That took me back in time to my childhood and how much of who I am can be attributed to my relationship with my father. It became clearer to me just how much young people growing up without both parents are missing. Seventy percent of African-American families presently are single-parent homes. Staggering statistics such as this make me ask myself questions like, “How do we fix this?” and “What can I do to help?”
Being an MD, I frequently share these views with my patients. I just never dreamt I would be a published writer. I have always written for fun however. When I was young, I would write sixteen page letters to my friends in boarding schools. They would report back to me that they eagerly awaited my letters and read them with their peers. More recently, it was facebook notes.
The idea itself came in a very unexpected fashion, however. I was watching a Larry King Live special titled Women & Self Worth: Defining One’s Self Could Be the Key to Complete Success. That was the magical moment. “I have a message,” I thought. It was literally like “Ding, dong!” I picked up my blackberry and started to type.
Now, the title The Only Way is Up is essentially my motto! I live by it.
JP: What sets The Only Way Is Up apart from other self-help books dealing with African-Americans on a global level?
FT: I believe these are mainly two things. I have not come across any self-help book that addresses as many issues as I do in this book, which is written by an immigrant. There are a lot of amazing self-help books out there written by wonderful people. Usually, there’s a 400 page book about dating or a 300 page book about spirituality or another separate book about finance. Also, the books I have seen written by immigrants are mostly either a biography or fiction.
What I have done is like a summary book so to speak. It’s about a change in attitude and perception. For that person that does not have the time or the resources to buy ten different books on each subject matter, my book is it. Another factor is the fact that I was born in the UK, raised in both the UK and Nigeria and have lived in the United States for 10 years. It gives me a global view, a view from within and without. Now, that’s priceless wouldn’t you say?
JP: As an author, what are the keys to your success that lead to The Only Way Is Up getting out to the public?
FT: I would say a lot of hard work and God’s favor. Every single day since I started to write this book, I have worked on it. I get home from work, I attend to my family and I get on my laptop. I was up to the task because I knew that not only am I not mainstream, I am also not American and I was writing something other than fiction! People usually view non-fiction as possibly boring. And if you’re not a celebrity or reality TV show star, people may not want to hear your message. That put an autobiography basically out of the equation.
So here’s what I did: I wrote this book like I talk to my friends. I wrote it in a very laid back manner. I made it easy and funny, even while dealing with serious issues. I made it relatable. I am a regular person like my readers. I go to work everyday just like they do. It paid off because people tell me it’s an easy read and they read it in one day. Men come up to me and tell me, “It’s not a book just for women; it’s for everybody”. I have had positive responses from all races.
Now I just market, market and market some more, till I cover all my bases. The Google search is an amazing tool and information resource for everything. Publicity is a process. Presently, I’m waiting for my reviews to come in, doing my book signings, doing interviews and using the “word-of-mouth” technique which never gets old. And let us not forget the good old social networking sites as well which are invaluable in getting the word out there.
JP: As an author, what is your writing process? How long did it take for you to start and finish The Only Way is Up?
FT: I got the inspiration, I started to type on my blackberry and I subsequently became “best friends” with my laptop. That first night, I wrote the chapter one and an outline of several subsequent chapters. It’s really funny because then I had to purchase Office 2007 for my laptop. I had MS works prior. Definitely not the “techie” kind. If I got an idea while driving, I would pull up on the side of the road and make a note.
The whole process of putting my thoughts into words, repeatedly editing till the book was published took five and a half months total. I have been told I must have been bursting at the seams and pregnant with ideas!
JP: What’s next for Folake Taylor?
FT: Subsequently, more writing… I do have my day job however, which I love. For now, I am just reveling in this blessing and so thankful to God for the opportunity to reach a wider audience with my message. I am loving it. It feels like learning a new trade, and I have enjoyed every step of the way.
I may even try my hands on something new such as fiction. This was not a plan; this writing business. It just basically fell into my lap. I do not have magazine articles leading up to this. I do not have short stories published to test the waters. I only had medical publications and conference presentations prior to The Only Way is Up. I am going to take my new found gift and run with it.
Facebook: Folake Taylor