5 Questions for . . . Kimberla Lawson Roby

New York Times best-selling author Kimberla Lawson Roby has agreed to take five of my questions. This Illinois resident broke into contemporary African-American fiction with the self-publication of her first novel, Behind Closed Doors, back in 1997. Since then she’s written nine more novels, with the tenth, Sin No More, due to hit stores on January 22nd (or before, if you’re lucky).
Each of Ms. Roby’s novels have dealt with very real issues---in BEHIND CLOSED DOORS, social status, gambling addiction, and infidelity; in HERE AND NOW, single motherhood, infertility, and sibling rivalry; in CASTING THE FIRST STONE, corruption within the church; in IT’S A THIN LINE, domestic violence, sexual abuse, and care-giving of a parent; in A TASTE OF REALITY, racial and gender discrimination in the workplace with subplots exploring sexual harassment; in TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING (a sequel to CASTING THE FIRST STONE), THE BEST-KEPT SECRET and LOVE AND LIES, church issues were revisited; and in CHANGING FACES, overweight issues, a female illness, damaging secrets and the importance of a devoted friendship between three women.

Here we go! And please pardon the sometimes irregular spacing; I can't get Blogger to get right.

Bettye: The year 2008 will bring something different from Kimberla Lawson Roby . . . two new releases. Tell us about them. And will this be a regular semi-annual occurrence for your readers to look forward to?

KLR: My January 2008 novel, entitled Sin No More (William Morrow - hardcover), is the fifth in my Reverend Curtis Black series, and it shows what happens when you've sinned repeatedly and now have to deal with all the consequences. It shows that we all must and do reap what we have sown. My second story of the year, One in a Million (William Morrow - hardcover), will be released in June and is about a woman who has received the best news ever and can't wait to tell her husband. However, when her husband arrives home she learns that he also has news, except his news is the worst news ever and will change their lives forever. Readers can also look for the paperback version of Love & Lies (my 2007 hardcover), which is the fourth title in the Reverend Curtis Black series.

In terms of whether I'll continue to write two books per year, you'll definitely see this happen again in 2009 and hopefully in future years as well. I've often had readers ask me if I would ever be willing to write/release two books per year, so this is the reason I chose to do so.

Bettye: The reading public just can’t seem to get enough of Curtis Black. I suspect there are more pastors like Curtis Black out there than we might think. One of the ministers in my hometown used to tool around town in a pink Cadillac, and I still remember the joking remarks made to his parishoners . . . “Did you see that Caddy y’all bought Reverend Smith?”(not his real name, of course). The title of Sin No More suggests you might be wrapping it up, so let’s get the scoop straight from the source – Will there be subsequent books about this character? If not, will you be introducing a new love-to-hate-him/her character?

KLR: I've considered ending the series for a while, so I tried my best to wrap things up in Sin No More to the best of my ability. Not to say that you won't see Curtis again in other stories of mine, but for now, I'd like to focus on a few new characters and storylines.

Bettye: I can understand that. I'm sure there are dozens of stories you want to tell.

Okay, middle question. As a top-selling author, your publisher sends you on book tours. (For information on Kimberla’s tour stops for Sin No More, visit her website.) Do you have a favorite city or bookstore where the readers were particularly enthusiastic?

KLR: There are a number of bookstores and cities that fall under my favorites' category, but I'll always miss Emma Rodgers and her wonderful bookstore, Black Images, in Dallas, TX. I'll miss her and all of her amazing customers. Her store is now closed, and it is certainly a major loss to the bookselling industry.

Bettye: It's time to get personal. Do you cook? If you do, what’s your specialty, or at least your flawless culinary creation?

KLR: I'm definitely not a cooking sort of girl, but thankfully, before my mom passed away, she taught me how to make her awesomely tasteful baked macaroni and cheese as well as this wonderful cheese potato dish, which I make for Thanksgiving. Of course, this means all of the rest of the dishes (a lot of them) are made mostly by my youngest brother, who is this amazing cook and also by my middle brother and husband who can dabble pretty nicely themselves!

Bettye: I love a man who cooks! I keep telling my husband that a man in the kitchen is sexy . . . it rarely works. But he's big on take-out.

And now for the fifth and final question. When your book Changing Faces came out in 2006, you were very open about your dissatisfaction with your weight and your determination to do something about it (although when I met you in Jacksonville, Florida, some years back you didn't strike me as someone who particularly needed to slim down). How’s that going, two years later? As someone whose 5 extra pounds has ballooned into 40 over the years, I need some encouragement.
KLR: I certainly appreciate the compliment, and I think being 5'9" without shoes is what allowed me to conceal how much I really weighed. There was a time, right after my mom passed in 2001, when I weighed 40 pounds more than what I weigh currently and I felt sluggish all the time. I had no energy, and I wasn't happy with the way my clothing fit. Now, today, I stick to the program because what I learned from Weight Watchers is that you can't diet. I learned that what you have to do instead is make a brand-new healthy lifestyle change and follow this new way of living and eating for the rest of your life. I've been a Lifetime Member (meaning I've not exceeded my goal weight for my height) for over two years, and I still feel better at 42 than I did in my early thirties. It has been a truly great experience, and I recommend Weight Watchers to anyone struggling with their weight.
Bettye: Kimberla, those five questions went by very quickly, but I’d like to give you the opportunity to say anything you’d like to the folks reading this.
KLR: I just want to say how grateful I am to have been given this opportunity and that I hope everyone will pick up a copy of Sin No More on January 22nd and One in a Million in June!
Bettye: Thanks, Kimberla, for taking time out before the kickoff of your tour to take 5 questions!
Kimberla's upcoming books will be available in bookstores everywhere and may also be pre-ordered on Amazon.


Shelia said...

Ask any avid reader who is one of their favorite characters--the man you love to love or hate and it would be Curtis Black. Curtis Black has started many good book discussions.

Great interview!

Gwyneth Bolton said...

Great interview, ladies!


Patricia W. said...

I'm not sure how I missed the Curtis Black series. Actually, I think I read the first one but never got back to it. Sounds like a good time to catch up.

Wonderful interview, ladies. Congratulations on maintaining your goal weight, Kimberla. So many of us struggle with this issue.

bettye griffin said...

Glad y'all enjoyed it!

Barbara Joe Speaks said...

Wonderful interviews. Kimberla is one of my favorite authors and I've enjoyed all of her books. However, I think it might be time to give Rev. Black a rest. I'd like to see what some of the new characters have in store. Take care and thanks for sharing...

bettye griffin said...

As a writer, I can readily understand Kimberla feeling the same way. That One in a Million plot she described sounds intriguing, don't you think?

Thanks for commenting.

Mel said...

Great interview. Also I think it takes stamina to keep writing one character, especially without a fixed end in sight. I wish her the best of luck.