The Chronicles of FOLAKE TAYLOR


Folake Taylor believes in making the world a better place, one person at a time, one good deed at a time. And She has faith has faith it is possible if we try. She communicates this message in: The Only Way is Up: The Journey of an Immigrant

AG:   Can we meet you (background, transition between growing up and becoming a writer)?
FT: I was born in Birmingham UK in the early 70s to Nigerian parents. After a few years, we moved back to Nigeria where I did the majority of my schooling except for a stint in High School when I was back in London for an extended period. Otherwise, it was mostly Nigeria with Summer time and vacations in the UK, different parts of Europe and the US. Upon completion of medical school from OAU in Ife and my internship in Ilorin, I relocated to Atlanta, GA where I still reside with my family now. I have practiced outpatient Internal Medicine in the suburbs of Atlanta since completion of a residency program at the Morehouse School of Medicine, mostly out of the Grady Hospital. So there I was living my routine life and on vacation with my family when I had the “Aha moment” that led to the book.

AG: Where did you grow up and what was is like growing up?
FT:Most of my childhood was spent in a little university town in Nigeria called Ile-Ife. It was the campus of the Obafemi Awolowo University–The Staff Quarters to be precise. It was very similar to growing up in a huge subdivision in the United States actually. The environment was sheltered and mostly safe. The schools, some shopping and a lot of recreation were on the university campus. It was a great place to live. You’d have to pick up a copy of “The Only Way is Up” to get the full picture as I wrote indepth about this.

AG: How did you initially become interested in writing, did you ever imagine you would one day become a writer?
FT: No, I never imagined I would be a writer at all. As much as I loved to write, I only wrote for fun. I can remember a total of one article being published in the school paper in childhood. I didn’t enter for writing competitions or anything like that. But I always had a certain way with words. In recent years I wrote facebook notes on lifestyle, politics, religion, right versus wrong, etc. I had no interest in being a published author until the day I got the idea for a book, picked up my blackberry and started my book as a note. I have never looked back.

AG:  What book/author most influence your life and why?
FT: It’s amazing but I would have to say Barack Obama’s “Dreams From My Father.”

AG: Why did you want to write this book? Why a memoir?
FT: As I watched my husband and our daughter interact on that fateful day of the “Aha moment”, I started to reminisce about my childhood and what part of my development I can attribute to the presence of a strong, loving and supportive father. A lot, evidently. It saddened me to think of the many kids in the world today especially in the developed world who do not have that. I believe that children need both parents and the decision for anything outside of that should not be taken lightly if it is within our power. The absence of fathers in homes is a major factor in self esteem problems in young females and males who do not know how to be men because nobody showed them how. A major premise for starting my book was to primarily address the social decline in the developed world most especially.

I did not write with the mindset of a memoir but I had to draw on my experiences and my story to paint a picture of certain possibilities. This is perhaps why some of my reviewers have labeled the book a memoir.

AG:  In a nutshell,tell us about, The Only Way is Up: The Journey of an Immigrant?
FT: I ended up writing about a lot more issues than the absence of fathers and self esteem in young women. Issues I wrote about include general life principles as well as a chapter for single ladies based partly on my dating woes back in the day and partly from being a good observer. I wrote about nutrition, health, weight and diet. I discussed gender roles, success, relationships in general, spirituality, single parenthood, teenage pregnancy, etc. I also did draw a parallel with my upbringing and highlight some of the values we are missing in modern times. “The Only Way is Up” targets women, immigrants and African Americans but has been applauded by a wide audience, including men.

AG: Who edited and when did you finish writing, The Only Way is Up?
FT: My mother incidentally was my primary editor outside of myself. She is a writer though not an editor professionally. My father also pitched in. I self-published– a decision which I made based on my being a debut author with an unusual content and being a minority as well as a foreigner in the United States. That meant I did not have a multitude of resources available to me, both monetary and otherwise.

I finished writing the book in November of 2009 and immediately published the first edition. My first draft was done in four weeks and by the time the edits were over, it was almost six months total time.

AG:  Looking back now, are you totally satisfied with outcome of the book?
FT: I am somewhat satisfied but not totally. I don’t think I can say I’m totally satisfied until I write a best-selling book! We live and learn. There are things I know today about writing, publishing and promoting a book that I did not know a year ago and could have done differently but considering that I have a full time job, a toddler and a husband, I know and have been told I have done well. But I strive to do even better like the title, “The Only Way is Up!”

AG: What do you see as a mark of a really good book?
FT: Reviews primarily I would say. Sales are important but a lot of different factors come into play especially if you are self published and not positioned quite as advantageously on the market. In other words, a great self-published book may never make it to the New York Times bestseller list or even Essence but may still be an amazing book. The dynamics are determined by a host of factors.

AG: You are also a medical doctor, how do you balance everyday life, Medicine and writing?
FT: I try to do at least one thing concerning my writing on a daily basis. On weekdays especially, I prioritize. After my regular work as a doctor, I try to attend to my family before I get wrapped up with my laptop or multitask! It is not always easy and finding the balance when I was initially writing the book was hard because you want to write when you get the inspiration and it could be during any other activity. I am doing better now than I was.

AG: How challenging was it to split your time between your professional life and writing the book?
FT: Very challenging.

AG: What inspires you as a Doctor, Writer and mother?
FT: As a doctor, I hate suffering and I am motivated to do my best to alleviate it. As a writer, I detest ignorance and I hope my writing combats that. As a mother, I love to see my child smile and say thank you for little things. I teach her to appreciate life.
Folake Taylor and her daughter Jordan

AG:  3- You never knew facts about me?
FT: I cannot say the word “renaissance”!!!
       I do not like valet parking.
      The simplest things make me happy.

AG: If you had a book club, what would it be reading and why?
FT: We would read everything from romance and mystery, to non-fiction, Christian, inspirational, autobiographies and memoirs. We would not read about vampires, witches and wizards however!

AG:  What are your writing aspirations?
FT: I want to make a difference in the world. Simple.

AG: What is the best writing advice you ever received and who was it from?
FT: Write daily. Many sources. It does not have to be the same project from day to day but write daily. Also, read a lot. And read what you want to sound like. If you read sub-standard books, your brain will spew out sub-standard writing.

AG: Any writing tips, you would like to share?
FT: Do not be in a hurry. Quality is preferred over quantity. Write and self edit over and over till you feel like your brain is on fire. Then step away for a minute. A minute could be a week or more at times. When you come back, write and self edit over and over some more! Do that till you feel like a cartoon character plastered to the pavement!!!

Thank you.
F. Taylor on facebook
@folaketaylor on twitter

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  1. What a great interview and Folake, your daughter is beautiful.

  2. Thank you so much Anonymous! I appreciate you stopping by...

  3. Lovely interview, I def got a few new things about beautiful Folake I didn't know before. Kudos Afrigenic!

  4. Folake,
    The only way is 'further up' still.
    May the glory of the Lord continue to shine brighter on you. I'm proud of you !
    ~Mrs Raji~

  5. really proud of you Folake, Shine on !!!

  6. Great blog!

    Since I´m trying to make connections between African and Brazilian Culture, a blog with a lot of info is always a help!

    Keep up the high-quality work!