A Conversation on Changing Faces with Kimberla Lawson Roby

By Felecia Jones and Carla Newsome McManus

 

 

The Scene

It’s Friday night. Buckhead’s rush hour has been brutal. But nevertheless, Atlanta’s vibrant skyline anticipates the arrival of upwardly mobile professionals to Happy Hour, spoken word artists to the nearest coffee shop, and souls hungry for food and atmosphere to the chic and swanky Intown restaurants. Me? After a week of being a sister in Corporate America, I’m only looking forward to an evening at home with a cup of hot chocolate and a good book. There’s no better way to begin my perfect evening of solitude than with a talk with one of the most admired writers of contemporary African American fiction, Kimberla Lawson Roby. Girlfriend’s novels speak the truth! I almost wonder if she has a copy of my diary!

I zoom into the parking lot Ansley Mall, almost 30 minutes late…thanks to traffic, and pray that Kimberla is still there!  God really answer’s prayers. Kimberla, sporting her signature ponytail without a stray hair, is regal and elegant as she autographs the books of several excited fans. Just as I scan the room for the Sisters and Brothers of HotLanta  Book club’s president, Carla swings open the front door. She’s been sitting in traffic, too. The fun begins after all the other excited fans leave the store. Carla and I are so excited to have the opportunity to talk one-on-one with Kimberla.

 

The Conversation

Sisters and Brothers of HotLanta:  What was your inspiration for writing Changing Faces?
Kimberla: Because obesity is so prevalent in this country and has become such a danger to everyone's health, I wanted to focus on overweight issues and I also wanted to focus on the subject of women ignoring symptoms of female illnesses and choosing not to do anything about them.

Sisters and Brothers of HotLanta: Will you continue to write contemporary fiction or have you considered writing other genres?
Kimberla: I love writing about contemporary issues, so more than likely I will continue doing so for years to come.  There is a chance, however, that I will eventually write a non-fiction book.

Sisters and Brothers of HotLanta: What were some of the specific challenges you faced in writing Changing Faces?
Kimberla: There weren't a lot of challenges in regard to the story itself but as with each book I write, I always feel the pressure of trying to live up to the last novel I've written.

Sisters and Brothers of HotLanta: Competition among writers in the African American literary is really heating up. How do you stay ahead of the game?
Kimberla: I decided a long time ago to stay true to myself and to only concentrate on my own style of writing and stories.  I also decided that regardless of what new genres appear on the scene, my job is to continue writing the stories my readers have come to expect from me---which are stories I write straight from the heart.
 

Sisters and Brothers of HotLanta:  How important are book clubs to the success of your writing?
Kimberla: Oh my!  Book clubs are extremely important to the success of my writing and I honestly don't know what I would do without them.  Book clubs always support me in a huge way and I look forward to hearing from them and meeting them during every single tour I travel on.

Sisters and Brothers of HotLanta: What is your most memorable book club experience?
Kimberla: I've had so many wonderful experiences and the more I think about it, there are too many memorable ones to name.  But I will say that each year I choose around five book clubs to meet with privately and I always have the best time with them. 

Sisters and Brothers of HotLanta:  Who are your favorite authors?
Kimberla: Terry McMillan, Barbara Delinsky, Victoria Christopher Murray, E. Lynn Harris, Eric Jerome Dickey, Connie Briscoe and a few others.  Right now, though, I'm reading Memoirs of a Geisha and I'm really loving it.

Sisters and Brothers of HotLanta:  What is the most important book that you've recently read?
Kimberla: I won't say it is the most important book I've read lately, but Memoirs of a Geisha is proving to be the most educational novel I've read in a long time because I'm learning so much that I didn't know about Japanese women and their culture.

 

 

About Kimberla Lawson Roby

 

New York Times Bestselling Author, Kimberla Lawson Roby, has written seven novels which include, THE BEST-KEPT SECRET, TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING,A TASTE OF REALITY, IT’S A THIN LINE, CASTING THE FIRST STONE, HERE AND NOW, and her debut title, BEHIND CLOSED DOORS, which was originally self-published through her own company, Lenox Press. She has completed seven national book tours and is currently speaking at expos, luncheons, writers conferences, libraries, colleges, universities and other literary events throughout the country on request. Her novels have frequented numerous bestseller lists, including The New York Times and those in Essence Magazine, Upscale Magazine, Emerge Magazine, Barnes and Noble, Amazon.com, Wal-Mart, The Dallas Morning News, and The Austin Chronicle to name a few and both BEHIND CLOSED DOORS and CASTING THE FIRST STONE were #1 Blackboard bestsellers for four consecutive months in 1997 and 2000 respectively. BEHIND CLOSED DOORS was the #1 Blackboard Best-selling book for paperback fiction in 1997.

In addition, Ms. Roby’s first novel was nominated for Blackboard’s 1998 and 1999 Fiction Book of the Year Award, and she received the Blackboard Fiction Book of the Year Award for 2001for CASTING THE FIRST STONE. She is also the recipient of the 1998 First-Time Author Award from Chicago’s Black History Month Book Fair and Conference, her fifth novel, A TASTE OF REALITY, was a 2004 finalist for the Atlanta Choice Awards sponsored by the Atlanta Daily World, and TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING received a 2004 Patron Choice Award from the Central Mississippi Regional Library System.

Each of Ms. Roby’s novels has 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; and in TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING (a sequel to CASTING THE FIRST STONE) and THE BEST-KEPT SECRET, church issues were revisited.

Ms. Roby resides in Illinois with her husband, Will. Her eighth novel, CHANGING FACES, centers on overweight issues, a female illness, damaging secrets and the importance of a devoted friendship between three women. It will be released on January 24, 2006.

To share your thoughts with Kimberla regarding her work, please e-mail her at:

kim@kimroby.com

 

 

For more information about Kimberla Lawson Roby visit http://www.kimroby.com