Folake Taylor was born in the United Kingdom to Nigerian-born parents in the early 70s and was raised in both countries before settling in the United States to live the American dream. Taylor obtained her medical degree (MB ChB-Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery) in 1998 from the Obafemi Awolowo University College of Health Sciences in Ile-Ife, Nigeria. After medical school, she underwent a year of rotational internship in Nigeria after which she relocated to the United States. She is a 2006 graduate of the Internal Medicine Residency Program of the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, GA. Taylor is a member of the American College of Physicians (ACP) and is board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM).
Geosi Reads Interviews Folake Taylor:
GEOSI READS: I like to begin by thanking you for accepting to be interviewed here upon all your busy schedules.
FOLAKE TAYLOR: Thank you for having me. I am honored.
GR: Is there anything I left out from the biography? Any additions?
FT: (Laughs) That’s the professional part you have. The rest of it is that I am a wife, a mother, sometimes an activist, a blogger and now an author of my debut work, ‘The Only Way Is Up: The Journey of an Immigrant.’
GR: ‘The Only Way Is Up’ is your debut book. What is it about?
FT: It’s a self-help and motivational book that targets women (especially women of color), African Americans and immigrants to the Western world. It would also be perfect for someone with hopes of relocating to the Western world to prepare them (without sugar coating) for the change in scenery. I write about some of my experiences, as a way of communicating life lessons and views on pertinent life issues. The topics range from self esteem, self worth, success, relationships, nutrition and being single to spirituality and racism. The book covers a wide range of topics.
GR: When did you start on your journey to writing? Have you always wanted to write?
FT: I never had dreams of being a writer. It just fell into my laps so to speak. The journey started formally on the day I started to write this book. I was on vacation with my family and as I watched my husband and our daughter interract, it took me back in time to my childhood and my father ; how much having him in my life as a responsible strong male figure has contributed to who I am now. It saddened me that a lot of kids around me in the United States do not have this. The same evening, a Larry King Live Special was about women and self worth and how it could be the key to success later in life. That was my ‘Aha’ moment. I started the book that evening.
GR: Do you write part-time or full time? Tell us about your writing schedules.
FT: I write part-time, mostly on nights and weekends. I write when I get inspired and when I have time. I have no schedule but I try to write something or make a note about something on a daily basis. I also write articles and of course, do some blogging.
GR: Who do you write for? Do you have any specific audience in mind when writing?
FT: My target audience are mainly women, especially women of color. I try to address a lot of issues that will help young women avoid some of the mistake that the older ones like myself made along the way, especially in my chater for single ladies. I do have a lot of information that anyone can relate to as well, for example, in my chaper on life principles. Men have told me they loved it and benefited from the message.
GR: Publishing a book could sometimes be a herculean task. How did you get your book published?
FT: I self published. I chose to do this right off the bat without trying to get a book deal because of the unique nature of my message and niche target audience coupled with the fact that I’m a minority and a foreigner in the United States. It’s not so hard to self publish anymore in the United States. It is marketing the book yourself without prior industry knowledge that is tasking. I have done it for a whole year now. Book signings, events, blogs, interviews online or on the radio, word of mouth, reviews, etc are all invaluable.
GR: It is one thing writing a book and another thing promoting and marketing it. How do you market your book? How is your book doing in the market?
FT: I guess I was reading your mind! It is doing well. I have it in print and ebook format to keep up with the times and I try to have various avenues for sales including online as well as brick and mortar stores. I have promoted my book through events such as book signings, I do a lot of social networking and I have had two organized blog tours in addition to blog appearances and interviews such as this. I have had a lot of great reviews and some mixed reviews but thankfully nothing I would consider a bad review so far (Laughing).
GR: Do you have any specific person(s) you look up to for inspiration to write?
FT: I look up to the president, Barack Obama. I was reading his book ‘Dreams From My Father’ around the time when I was writing mine and he is just such an inspiration to me personally, as a person and as an author.
GR: Which book(s) have most influenced you as a writer?
FT: ‘Dreams From My Father’ by Barack Obama.
GR: The penetration of electronic books are gradually becoming dominant in the publishing industry. Do you sometimes, as a writer fear for this new age and era of e-books?
FT: I don’t fear it. I embrace it. When I was about to publish my book a year ago, my mother advised me to hold off on the ebook version first because that cheapens it and people have options for a less expensive version of your book. That used to be the consensus and she published in those times. However, the new consensus now is that even publishing houses will release an ebook version first and make some money upfront with less invested into it before they release the print version. That is definitely advised for self published authors nowadays or anyone trying to test the waters and publish for the first time. It’s practically free to publish on Kindle now.
GR: How much of research goes into your writings?
FT: A lot. That depends on the content of your writing however. If it is fiction and everything you are writing about is what you know and set in the present, you may not need a lot of research. If you’re writing about the victorian era, there may be more research than writing to bring your idea to life. If non-fiction, generally a lot of research goes in to back up your points, your comparisons and know who your competitors are with similar work on the market.
GR: You have lived both in the United States and then in Nigeria but I like us to come back home to Nigeria. Do you see Nigeria as a reading nation? Do Nigerians read at all?
FT: Yes, Nigeria is a reading nation, even more than I imagined. I realized this since I started to network with other writers online. But if we don’t do something, the generation coming up now will not be the same. They are grossly disadvantaged and we need to step up. Fortunately, a lot of people realize that and are stepping up to the plate in this regard.
GR: How is your book doing in Nigeria? How has it been received there?
FT: I have had some success but since I am not physically there to promote it, it is not the same. I have received favorable reviews from home however because a lot of the principles and life lessons I raise in the book are beneficial to everybody, especially women. When men read it, they are very happy to have their wives read it. They think it will help their marriage!
GR: Has the publication of your book changed your life in any particular way?
FT: It has. I know even more than before that I can do anything I put my heart to. I realize that the audience that is showing the most appreciation for my writing is not necessarily what I envisaged! Also, I am told I have a voice so I must use it.
F. Taylor on facebook
@folaketaylor on twitter
GR: Your last words?
FT: Thank you for this interview Geosi Reads. I am once again honored.