Kimberla has sold more than 2,000,000 copies of her novels, and they have frequented numerous bestseller lists, including The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, 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 both 1997 and 2000. BEHIND CLOSED DOORS was the #1 Blackboard Best-selling book for paperback fiction in 1997.
Kimberla is a 2014 NAACP Image Award Nominee for Outstanding Literary Work – Fiction, the 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 Black Pearls Magazine Lifetime Achievement Award, 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 22nd title, THE ULTIMATE BETRAYAL will be released June 9, 2015.
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?
The latest novel is titled The Ultimate Betrayal, which is my 22nd book and the 12th title in my Reverend Curtis Black Series. It will be released, Tuesday, June 9, 2015. It’s been four years since twenty-eight-year old Alicia Black, daughter of Reverend Curtis Black, divorced her second husband, the most womanizing and corrupt man she has ever known. Since then, Alicia has been dating her first husband, Phillip Sullivan, a wonderfully kind and true man of God whom she’d hurt terribly by cheating on him. Alicia has worked hard to prove herself worthy of his trust once more, and when he asks her to marry him again, she couldn’t be happier.
But Levi Cunningham, the drug dealer Alicia had an extramarital affair with, has just been released from prison, and he has completely turned his life around for the better. Still head-over-heels in love with Alicia, he will do whatever is necessary to win her back.
Remarrying Phillip is the one thing Alicia has wanted for years, but she can’t get Levi out of her mind. Alicia and Phillip aren’t the only ones in the middle of a crisis. Their best friends, husband and wife Brad and Melanie Richardson, are struggling to keep their marriage together.
Workaholic Brad is never home and has begun losing thousands on bad investments. Or so he says. Melanie, who is certain there’s more to the story, is determined to get at the truth. At the same time, her frustration and stress cause her to eat a lot less, and she behaves in an extreme fashion. Alicia worries that she could be suffering from anorexia, but Melanie steadfastly denies it. Their friendship begins to suffer, and it isn’t long before they’re talking to each other like enemies.
Fresh betrayal leads to consequences no one saw coming, and Alicia’s relationship with Phillip might not be the only thing that needs saving. But is it already too late?
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 books? 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.