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Frequently Asked Questions

inspirational author of the Struggles of a Dreamer trilogy Yahaya Baruwa giving a talk to a group of ladies in Toronto

What inspired you to write your first novel, Struggles of a Dreamer, in particular, about the battle between a dream and tradition?

My inspiration came from a misunderstanding that I had with my father. When I was still in second year at York University, I decided that I wanted to write a novel as a challenge for myself; however, my father thought that I was going to abandon school to do so. He said, “Focus on school and do not be distracted.” I misunderstood his point of view and thought he meant, “Don’t do anything but go to school.” I was upset and decided to write the book anyway, but in secret. About two years later, after the publication of the novel, I realized that my father, like all fathers, had only been trying to ensure that I got school out of the way before committing to something else. Fortunately, my father loves the fact that I have completed my undergraduate degree as well as become a young published author. It is safe to say that he is happy and proud of his son.

Why did you write the Struggles of a Dreamer trilogy?

I wrote the inspirational trilogy with the intention to inspire the reader with the courage to take a chance on themselves to do what they are afraid to do, today, so that they may be at peace with themselves, tomorrow.

You were born in Nigeria, did you enjoy living there?

I was born and raised in northern Nigeria, in Kano state, and came to Canada at the age of twelve in 2001. I enjoyed living in Nigeria because, for a kid, it was like heaven on earth. Although we weren’t wealthy, my parents provided well for my siblings and me, and as kids there was no shortage of neighborhood friends to play with or family members to visit. You’d be amazed how inventive young children can be when they have to find a way to entertain themselves.

Why did you decide to self-publish your book?

I self-published Struggles of a Dreamer simply because I needed to own the rights to my book and to maintain creative freedom and control over it, both in the present and in the future.

Why are you so ambitious?

I am ambitious simply because my parents gave up too much for my siblings and me to have a successful life far from their home country. God willing, I intend to repay them generously for their courage and sacrifice.

How long did it take you to write your first inspirational book, Struggles of a Dreamer and how old were you?

It took me approximately one year to write and complete the book (and I wrote it all by hand!). I was 21 years old at the time in 2009.

What was the hardest part of writing your first book, Struggles of a Dreamer?

Believing that a twenty-one-year-old, like I was, could write such a book and have success marketing it to the world.

Do you remember a moment when you almost gave up on your dream, and if so, why didn’t you?

I have had many instances when giving up seemed like the best option. This was often the case when I was completely exhausted and bitter from having worked so hard only to make so little progressive. This can quickly undermine the efforts of any determined individual. Yet I would never give up because my reasons to keep going far outweighed my reasons to stop and quit altogether. I rested, regained my focus and energy, and then I carried on.

Did you develop the entire story before you wrote your books?

Definitely not. I like the idea of knowing just enough of the story beforehand to get started. Just like you, the reader, I discover the characters and their stories along the way—as I write, and read it. It is much more fun this way. Besides, this allows me the freedom to tell the story exactly as it wants to be told, without the rigidity of preplanning.

Is Toku’te, the main character in Struggles of a Dreamer, a representation of yourself?

Yes, he is! However the character also represents each and every person who wants to go, or is actively going, after his or her ambition. Such a person can relate to Toku’te and can draw inspiration from his struggles and triumphs.

When will the Struggles of a Dreamer trilogy become a major motion picture?

I cannot give you a definite date, nor can I promise you that it will become a movie. However, if it does, it could be within the next year or two.

What are you afraid of?

Truly, I am not sure. Death is perhaps everyone’s greatest fear, but since I have accepted it as the inevitable, I am not really afraid of much else. Since everything else is fixable or replaceable, I see no reason to fear. I choose to continue to put God first in all that I do, treat all with respect, forgive fast and often, and be the best person I can be.

What do you intend for your readers to take away after reading the Struggles of a Dreamer trilogy?

The courage to say yes to, and to pursue, their most desired opportunity of a lifetime when it presents itself, and in so doing defeat the chances of regret—in advance.

What advice would you give people who want to write a book?

Do not tell anyone that you want to write a book—just start writing your book, whether you think you are ready or not. Have faith and belief in your story; choose to be a vessel through which it gains expression and remain judgment free until you have the entire story on paper. Furthermore, have a definite completion date—an exact date written down where you can see it every day—and always remember why you chose to write your book.

Why did your first book take a year to write and your second book only thirty days?

When I wrote Struggles of a Dreamer in 2009, I didn’t set a deadline. However, when I proceeded to write Tunde in 2013, I challenged myself to finish it in only thirty days. In addition, I also chose to reward myself with new headphones if I met that due date—I succeeded in doing so.

How many hours a day do you write?

I write only when I am working on a new book; otherwise, I do not write regularly. However, when I am working on a new book—coupled with a short deadline of thirty days or less—I tend to write about eight to ten hours a day, every day, until the book is completed. It is important to keep in mind that it matters not the length of time you spend writing, only that you are fully committed to letting the story come to life exactly the way it needs to. Therefore, a deadline is only a guideline—it should be firm but also flexible when necessary, a means to help you gain momentum and stay disciplined throughout the creation process. For example, I had set a goal to write my third inspirational novel, The Adventures of Ellie, in only thirty days; however, it took thirty-five days to complete. This is not because I missed a day or two, but it was because I needed more time to complete the story without rushing.

Do you have any pre-work rituals that you carry out before your start writing or doing a book-signing event?

I always pray that I am able give my very best to each and every person I speak with and that I am able to do my very best.

Have you always wanted to become a novelist as a young child?

No, I actually wanted to become a doctor (I think). But I was quick to realize that I didn’t enjoy studying science that much, and there ended that ambition. Then again, maybe I will get a PhD so that I can call myself Dr. Baruwa—who knows, anything is possible!

You are also an entrepreneur, what is your area of focus?

I write, produce, and market my books through my own publishing company, Tapestry House Publishing, which I had founded in 2010 at the age of twenty-two.

You sold your books door-to-door for over three years. Were you ever afraid at any point?

I was afraid every time I left my home to go sell my books door-to-door. I had many things to worry about: Will I make any sales; Are people going to be nice to me; How ridiculous do I look; Are any of my efforts worthwhile or will I fail miserably? But I was able to manage my fears as I became better at selling my book. I stopped worrying so much about the things I could not control, instead I began to focus only on the things I could.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

I pray a lot and I pay keen attention to everything around me—my inspiration comes to me from my surroundings and from my intuition.

Criticism is an inevitable part of life, how do you deal with this?

I take what is worth taking and I ignore the rest. Simple. The truth is, opinions are a penny a dozen and everybody has them in abundance. Accepting useless criticism is unnecessary. This will only slow one down and do more harm than good. I strive to be humble enough to acknowledge areas that need improvement, but I strive also to remain confident in myself and in my work, no matter what.

What do you like best about being an author?

The best thing about being an author has been all the wonderful people I have had the privilege of meeting, the friends I have made, and, most importantly, the inspiring fan mail I have received.

What do you like least about being an author?

What I like least about being an author is when I am not taken seriously or treated with respect simply because I am young and, therefore, presumed to be unworthy of being author.

Who is your favorite author and why?

Dr. Seuss, I love his approach to life. It is simple, daring, and colorful.

Are you an avid reader? If so, what types of books do you read?

I am not an avid reader, and wasn’t even when I was younger. But I read mostly when something captures my interest. I prefer to gather information differently: I watch a lot of documentaries, I enjoy conversing with and observing people, and I pay very close attention to everything around me. You’d be amazed by what you can learn by keeping your eyes, ears, and heart open—without judgement.

What do you love to do aside from being a novelist?

I absolutely love playing video games, listening to music, and hanging out with my family!

You have met thousands of people during your book tour. What is your most memorable encounter with one of them?

I have met well over one hundred thousand people and have had too many memorable encounters to track. However, one of my most memorable one was meeting Willa, an elderly lady who bought my books at the Indigo bookstore in Oshawa in November of 2019. I was not having the best day and without any urging, the woman proceeded to encourage me with a bit of her incredible life story about how things effortlessly somehow find a way of falling into place when you let them. I was so moved by her testimony that I wrote her a personal note referring to her as “an angel named Willa.”

Everyone has something they consider to be their wildest dream, what is yours?

My wildest dream is to sell a billion copies of the Struggles of a Dreamer trilogy to inspire readers globally.

You have done nearly one thousand book signings across Ontario, Canada over the course of eight years. How were you able to stay on the road for so long and keep yourself going strong?

Being on the road for that long was one of the hardest things I have ever put myself through. I was able to sustain myself throughout the whole process by being fully committed to an exhausting work ethic, through prayer, persistence, and focus. I was also willing to sacrifice most of my social life and money to enable my publishing business to grow.

If you were not a novelist, what would you be doing instead?

I don’t exactly know what I would be doing instead, but one thing for sure is that I would still be an entrepreneur in some respect. This is something I believe in passionately.

Now that you have completed the Struggles of a Dreamer trilogy, what is next for you?

I am not sure yet, but I love story-telling and inspiration so perhaps my next challenge will be to bring my books to life on screen, or maybe I’ll write another book. We’ll see what the future holds.

Any advice for me as I realize my dream?

Don’t stop; keep going no matter what.

Do you accept invitations to speak publicly?

Certainly! Among the best ways to add value to a person’s life is to share your stories of defeats and victories, whether before small or large audiences. Hearing these stories gives the listeners the opportunity to draw the courage to live their best lives. I am happy to speak at your upcoming event(s). You can reach me here to start a conversation about this.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

P.S. I invite you to read my inspirational novels, get started here.

Sincerely, 

Yahaya Baruwa

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