Kimberla is a 2013 NAACP Image Award Winner for Outstanding Literary Work – Fiction, the recipient of the 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013 Author of the Year – Female award presented by the African-American Literary Award Show in New York, the recipient of the 2014 Literary Excellence Award from Black Pearls Magazine, the recipient of the 2014 AAMBC Award for Female Author of the Year, the recipient of the Blackboard Fiction Book of the Year Award in 2001 for CASTING THE FIRST STONE, the recipient of the 1998 First-Time Author Award from Chicago’s Black History Month Book Fair and Conference, and in 2001, Kimberla was inducted into the Rock Valley College Alumni Hall of Fame (Rockford, IL).
Each of Kimberla’s novels deal with very real issues, including corruption within the church, drug addiction, gambling addiction, infidelity, social status, single motherhood, infertility, sibling rivalry and jealousy, domestic violence, sexual abuse, mental illness, care-giving of a parent, racial and gender discrimination in the workplace, sexual harassment, and overweight issues to name a few.
Kimberla resides in Illinois with her husband, Will. Her 21st title, A CHRISTMAS PRAYER will release on October 28, 2014.
BPM: Share with us your personal journey into publishing. Was this a fun time in your life?
Writing was not a lifelong dream of mine, however, back in April 1995 I sat down and began writing my debut novel, BEHIND CLOSED DOORS. It took me about seven months to complete, and I then began querying literary agents in search for representation. I was rejected by all of them. Finally, I submitted query letters directly to editors at publishing houses and received rejection letters from them as well. This is when my husband suggested that I start my own company to self-publish my book, and I did. My mom kept telling me not to give up also. As it turned out, I learned a wealth of important and very helpful information about the business of publishing, and I sold just over 10,000 copies within the first 6 months of publication. This was truly a fun and exciting time in my life.
BPM: How did you get to be where you are in your life today? Who or what motivated you?
My mother and my maternal grandmother were two of the kindest and wisest women I have ever known, and they began instilling a certain level of Christian and family values and wisdom in me from the time I was a small girl. Even after all the rejections, my mom told me I shouldn’t give up (I miss her tremendously), and my husband continues to be my biggest encourager and supporter as well.
BPM: Who does your body of literary work speak to? Do you consider authors as role models?
I believe my literary work speaks to everyone in one way or another. I write about real-life social issues that can and do affect all human beings. Corruption within the church, infidelity, domestic violence, drug addiction, gambling addiction, adult sibling rivalry, care-giving of a terminally-ill parent, childhood sexual abuse, racial and gender discrimination in the workplace, social status, overweight issues, and the list goes on. There is also always some level of redemption and forgiveness in every single book I write. I don’t consider myself to be a role model per se, but if someone does in fact view me in that manner, my prayer is that I am able to represent myself well, particularly to young people.
BPM: Could you tell us something about your most recent work? Is this book availableon Nook and Kindle?
A CHRISTMAS PRAYER centers on Alexis Fletcher, who sadly, hasn’t had a merry Christmas in five years—not since her mother passed away. Every December, she remembers the joy that her mother brought to everyone during the holiday season and feels the pain of her absence. This is even more so now that she and her sister are barely speaking, and her future mother-in-law would do anything—anything at all—to stop her son, Chase, from marrying Alexis. Yes, it is available in all digital formats.
BPM: Give us some insight into your main characters or speakers. What makes each one so special?
Alexis is kind, compassionate and very intelligent, yet she is struggling with lots of sadness because of the passing of her mother. No matter what she does or how wonderful every aspect of her life is, she still can’t seem to get beyond her feelings about the holidays.
BPM: What inspired you to sit down and actually start writing this book? Why now?
About three years ago, my editor, Beth de Guzman suggested that I write a Christmas book, and while I wasn’t sure what I would center the story on, I told her about my own personal feelings about Christmas, and she said, “Well, that’s the story.” I can’t personally relate to every aspect of Alexis Fletcher’s life, but I can certainly relate to not truly wanting to celebrate Christmas since the passing of my own mom 13 years ago.
BPM: What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
I enjoyed writing this book because even though Alexis is sad about the holidays, she is blessed in so many other ways and there is a strong sense of love and family throughout the entire story.
BPM: Where do your book ideas come from?
With every book I write, I first decide which social issue I’m really feeling passionate about at the time and then I create my characters around it. From there, I outline the story.
BPM: Are your books plot-driven or character-driven? Why?
My books can tend to be both, depending on which title. What I hear most often than not, though, from the majority of my readers is that they can always relate to both my characters and the overall storyline.
BPM: Are there under-represented groups or ideas featured in your book? If so, discuss them.
In many of my books, there are. One example, is my novella, A DEEP DARK SECRET where I wrote about a 12-year-old girl who was being sexually molested by her stepfather who was an upstanding deacon in the church. She was suffering in silence and so are millions of children in this country who never tell anyone what’s happening to them.
BPM: How does your book relate to your present situation, education, spiritual practice or journey?
As I mentioned above, I can’t personally relate to every aspect of Alexis Fletcher’s life, but I can certainly relate to not wanting to celebrate Christmas since the passing of my own mom 13 years ago. My prayer, however, is that God will give me a renewed spirit and the desire to enjoy the holidays again with family and friends.
BPM: What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?
I wanted to show that not everyone is the same and that loss of a loved one can affect people very differently. I also wanted to show that even through loss, God still gives each and every one of us so many other blessings and loved ones to be there for us.
BPM: What projects are you working on at the present?
I’m currently finishing up THE ULTIMATE BETRAYAL, which is my 22nd book and the 12th title in my Reverend Curtis Black Series. It will be released, Tuesday, May 5, 2015.
BPM: How can readers discover more about you and your work?
Readers can visit my web site, http://www.kimroby.com. or visit me through social media at www.facebook.com/kimberlalawsonroby or www.twitter.com/KimberlaLRoby