London Book Review


Fiona Citkin’s Tapestry: Unraveling Immigrant Triumphs in ‘How They Made It in America

Today, we have the privilege of delving deep into the captivating narrative woven by Fiona Citkin, the brilliant author behind “How They Made It in America.”

In this poignant exploration of immigrant triumphs, Fiona Citkin unveils the timeless tales of resilience, perseverance, and success. Through meticulous research and heartfelt storytelling, Citkin, herself an immigrant from Ukraine, sheds light on the indomitable spirit of eighteen immigrant women who dared to dream big in the face of adversity.

From the seventeenth century to the present day, these women’s journeys serve as a testament to the enduring pursuit of the American Dream. Their stories, intricately woven with values, practical advice, and profound insights, offer a beacon of hope and inspiration in a world where immigrants often face daunting challenges and scrutiny.

Join us as we explore the depths of immigrant resilience, the intricacies of success, and the profound impact of cultural diversity in shaping the American landscape in this exclusive interview with the author herself.

1.Through the process of researching and writing this book, did your perspective on immigration or success undergo any significant evolution or change? If so, in what ways did the project impact your outlook?

My perspective on the immigrants’ success in the US has evolved significantly. Why? Because I am an immigrant who interviewed other immigrant women—and realized that we women can indeed aspire higher and achieve greater success no matter how low we start. I became more optimistic through the process of writing this book.  

2.Narrating the experiences of multiple women from diverse backgrounds must have presented unique challenges. Were there any particular challenges in storytelling that you encountered, and how did you overcome them?

Yes, there were: my interviewees’ diverse cultural upbringings presented specific challenges for interviewing and storytelling. But I am a linguist and interculturalist who lived and worked in different countries/cultures, and this background know-how helped me establish trusting relationships with my book subjects.   

3.As an author, how do you envision your readers engaging with the book? Are there specific discussions or reflections you hope the stories will spark among readers?

The stories of the Achievers make only Part One of the book. Then I engage my readers with discussing the details of Seven Success Values which let these immigrant women start from scratch and raise their game.   

4.Crafting a book often involves collaboration with editors, publishers, and others. Can you share insights into the collaborative process behind “How They Made It in America” and how it influenced the final product?

I got lucky with my editor, Brenda Copeland: I appreciated her style, scrupulousness, and her scissors.

5.In “How They Made It in America,” readers encounter the stories of eighteen immigrant women. Is there a particular woman’s story that resonated deeply with you, and if so, why?

A particular woman’s story that really resonated with me was Ivana Trump, who recently passed away. We both came from the formerly Communist countries (she from the Czech Republic and I from Ukraine), so we understood the values and the constraints imposed on women by our East-European cultures. Also, she was among the first who said, “Yes, I will help you; send your questions.”

Another story that deeply resonated was that of Edwina Sandys’ (Winston Churchill’s granddaughter), because we both came to realize but later in life how being raised as “proper girls” disadvantaged us, inhibiting our deep-seated audacity of hope.

6.Are there any upcoming writing projects or themes you are eager to explore in your future works? Can you provide a glimpse into what readers can expect from your next endeavor?

I am thinking of the next book in the series about immigrant women; sixteen stories are ready to go; the focus will now be not on Values but on Cultures and how they influence all of us humans. Among the featured ladies there will be a supermodel Paulina Porizkova and Olympian gymnast Nadia Comaneci. Rich, tantalizing stories.

7.Could you describe your typical writing process? How long did it take you to complete “How They Made It in America,” and were there any unique challenges or rewarding moments during the writing journey?

I need to be alone in the house when writing—that’s number one. It took me almost five years to go from A to Z and have the book out. But now I think I know better…

8.Beyond the specific stories in your book, what overarching message or takeaway do you hope readers, especially aspiring immigrants, will carry with them after reading “How They Made It in America”?

As a professional educator, I did not want to leave takeaways to chance—and spelled out all seven of them in Part 3, The Achiever’s Handbook. As for the message, remember: “living in two worlds” as an immigrant gives one a dual perspective and uninhibited creativity, to enrich self and the world.

9.Juggling between academic roles, consultancy, and writing can be demanding. How do you strike a balance between your professional commitments and personal life?

I try harder.

10.Every writer has unique rituals or habits while working on a book. Can you share some of your writing rituals, and do you have any particular routines that help you stay focused?

Part of my routine is to isolate myself. I concentrate like crazy on one subject. I see ghosts in my mind. It helps.

Get this book on Amazon. Grab your own copy now!

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