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Monday, March 19, 2007
A CONVERSATIONS EXCLUSIVE: Bestselling author Kimberla Lawson Roby
She is indeed one of the bright stars on the literary scene today. Bestselling author Kimberla Lawson Roby has been thrilling critics and fans alike for some time now, and if her newest book LOVE & LIES is any indication, that record isn’t changing any time soon. The title, released in January 2007, has made numerous bestseller lists and was a New York Times extended list bestseller for four consecutive weeks. Additionally, during its first week of publication, it was # 4 on the Wal-Mart bestseller list for all hardcover titles in the country and will appear at # 1 for hardcover fiction in the May (2007) issue of Essence magazine! All of this and her publisher, William Morrow/HarperCollins recently announced a new four-book deal in which they will be releasing two books a year, both in 2008 and 2009.
Our conversation with Roby shows that with persistence comes reward.
Kimberla, thank you so much for taking out the time to talk with CONVERSATIONS. You came to my attention because of the powerful brand you have built behind your name. What does it feel like to look back on all the success you have had?
It's all truly a blessing and such an amazingly wonderful feeling. I still remember how I couldn't get my first novel published and how I had to move forward with starting my own company and then publishing it myself. However, since then, God has allowed me to have seven additional books be released from a major New York publishing house.
From the first book did you believe it would work for you as an author?
I'd always hoped and had faith that everything would work out and thankfully, it did.
What about your family? Did they support you right from the beginning?
Absolutely. When I received tons of rejection letters for my first novel, my mom kept saying that too many people locally were reading copies of the manuscript and were saying they couldn't put it down and she just didn't think I should give up. Then, my husband asked me why couldn't I just start my own company and publish the book myself, especially since my background was in business. My family and closest friends supported me then and continue to do so and it makes all the difference in my life.
The reader seems to come of each with each novel that you right, emerging with a feeling of self-awareness. Is that your intention when writing? What do you hope each book conveys?
Yes, it is always my hope that readers will be able to relate their own lives to my storylines and then walk away with self-awareness and/or solutions to whatever problems or obstacles they may be trying to overcome. Either that, or I'm hoping they can relate the story to what a family member or friend might be experiencing. Additionally, I'm always hoping to convey a strong message in terms of moral and/or family values. I'm hoping readers will see how important it is to do the right thing and that there are always consequences whenever we choose not to.
Sometimes when you reach a level of greatness it's hard to stay true to yourself. How do you remain grounded?
What keeps me grounded is the way my mother raised me. She raised me to have such great confidence in myself and to always believe I could do anything, but at the same time she made sure she taught me the importance of being down-to-earth. I've always been that way and no amount of money or success in general can ever change that. I always tell people that "I'm just Kim and that writing books is nothing more than the way I earn my living. I tell my readers that in the end, I'm no different than they are.
We are celebrating the successes of women in this issue. Tell us about the story your female characters tell and how you feel as though women have excelled since you have been publishing books.
In my novel, CHANGING FACES, there are three female characters with very different issues. Whitney is a hundred pounds overweight and is struggling with trying to lose it, Taylor is a successful attorney but is ignoring serious symptoms of a female illness, and Charisse, thanks to her childhood issues, pretends to be holier-than-thou but in reality is one of the most underhanded people you could ever meet.
In terms of how women have excelled, I think they have in a huge way---in the publishing industry and with so many other wonderful careers.
We hear in the mainstream media sometimes hear how women are still disadvantaged and not given the opportunities that men may have. What are your thoughts about how women are portrayed in the arts, whether its books, movies or music videos?
I think there are certainly more opportunities for women today than say even ten years ago, but I still think society has a long way to go. Unfortunately, women seem to have to work harder to have the same success as some men.
Any advice you have for those who need a little guidance in what to do with their finished manuscript?
Have faith in God, have faith in yourself and have faith in what you have written. Additionally, you should begin sending query letters to agents that are interested in representing your particular type of work. Also, read everything you can to learn the business of publishing. I always suggest that aspiring authors begin with HOW TO GET HAPPILY PUBLISHED by Judith Appelbaum.
Kimberla, what would you like to say to your fans?
Thank you all so much for supporting me over the last eleven years. Being published and then being blessed to have so many thousands of readers nationwide is an amazing joy and I sincerely appreciate all of you.
Thanks again for your time. We sure appreciate it. How can readers find out more about you and purchase your books?
Readers can visit my web site at www.kimroby.com.