Kimberla Lawson Roby is a New York Times Bestselling Author & Speaker who has published 28 books, including her non-fiction title, THE WOMAN GOD CREATED YOU TO BE: Finding Success Through Faith—Spiritually, Personally, and Professionally; and her novels, Casting the First Stone, Better Late Than Never, A Christmas Prayer, It’s a Thin Line, and her debut title, Behind Closed Doors, which she originally self-published through her own company. Kimberla’s books have frequented numerous bestseller lists, such as The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Essence, Black Christian News, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and many others. She is the recipient of the 2013 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work – Fiction and the 2017 SOAR Radio Trailblazer of Honor award.
Over the years, Kimberla has spoken to thousands of women at churches, conferences, luncheons, libraries, colleges, and universities where she candidly shares her personal journey–hoping to help women become all that God created them to be.
Kimberla resides in Illinois with her husband, Will.
1) When did you know that writing is what you were called to do? What is it about being a writer that you love the most?
Even in elementary school, I knew that writing felt very natural to me, but it wasn’t until 1995 when I began writing my first book, Behind Closed Doors, that I knew writing had a lot to do with my calling in life. Then, in terms of what I love the most about being a writer, what I enjoy with every single book is being able to write about real-life issues. I’ve done this with all twenty-seven of my novels, as well as with my first non-fiction book, THE WOMAN GOD CREATED YOU TO BE: Finding Success Through Faith—Spiritually, Personally, and Professionally.
2) Can you tell us a little about your book(s) and where our readers can find out more about them and you?
Even though the majority of my books are fiction, I have always centered my stories on real-life social issues (i.e. church scandal and corruption, caregiving of a terminally-ill parent, mental illness, alcoholism, drug addiction, gambling addiction, infidelity, domestic violence, breast cancer, social status, and many others. To find out more, readers can visit my website at www.kimroby.com.
3) What projects are you currently working on?
Right now, I’m focusing on getting the word out about The Woman God Created You to Be because although it was just released six months ago, many of my confirmed events and speaking engagements (due to our unfortunate pandemic) have either been postponed, canceled or rescheduled as virtual events, which I’m now pretty busy with.
4) What has been your most significant achievement as a writer thus far? Where do you see yourself within your career in the next five years?
I believe my most significant achievement as a writer was receiving the 2013 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Work – Fiction. It was such an honor that I will forever be grateful for. Then, as far as five years from now, my hope is to be walking much more fully into my purpose (helping women become all God created them to be). My hope is to help women in every way I can through writing and speaking.
5) How have you dealt with rejection within your writing career?
In the very beginning, rejection was hard to accept. It as very disappointing and discouraging, but thankfully, my husband, my mom, my two brothers, and two of my close friends encouraged me to keep going and not give up. Then, when my husband suggested that I start my own business so that I could self-publish my first book, this totally reignited my passion toward publishing as a whole.
6) Do you have a schedule for when you write? Do you outline your novels? How long does it generally take you to finish a novel?
When I’m writing the first draft of a book, I try my best to write every single day, sometimes for ten or more hours, and I remain on this particular schedule until I’m finished. This also means that for about six weeks or so I don’t leave the house very often, and I don’t spend much time on the phone or with email responses (unless they’re very necessary), and I try to limit my time on social media as well. And yes, I do outline my books. I’ve done so with all 28 of them, and it has made a wonderful difference for me. First, I decide what topics I’m going to center my stories on, then I create my characters, and from there I outline fifteen to twenty chapters. In terms of how long it takes for me to write a book, from outline to submission to my editor, it takes about three months. I also outlined my non-fiction book.
7) Do you believe that there is ever a point in life where it’s too late for an aspiring writer to become successful in this industry? Do you feel a late start would hinder their chances?
No, it is never too late to become successful in any industry. Never. And the reason I say this is because every successful thing we do must evolve in God’s timing, and sometimes that might not happen until we’re in our forties, fifties, sixties or older.
8) What’s the first book you ever read that really touched you emotionally and moved you? Who is your favorite author?
As a child, the first book I read that touched me emotionally was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, and as an adult, it was Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine by Bebe Moore Campbell. I also have lots of favorite authors.
9) So many writers say that they hate reading their own work? Do you ever just sit down and curl up with your own book?
After writing my books, reading the first draft, doing revisions and rewrites, reading it again before submitting it to my content editor, and then doing a few more revisions and rewrites and then reading it yet again…and then reading through it a fourth time, once it returns from the copyeditor…and then reading it again during the final proofreading stage…no, I’ve never even considered curling up with one of my own books to read for pleasure! LOL!
10) What are your thoughts about how the publishing industry is drastically changing?
Since I first began writing, more than two decades ago, the publishing industry has definitely changed a lot. But all this means is that, as authors, we need to make it a point to learn everything we can about publishing’s new normal. It has always been my feeling that authors should learn everything we can about the business of publishing, anyway, but in today’s times, I believe this more than ever before. We must also reflect, refocus, and spend as much time as possible connecting with our readers via social media, through our websites, and at events.
11) I feel like writing is a remarkable tool to help people not only express themselves, but also to cope emotionally and mentally. I know for me I write to be and feel more authentic. What unique quality is there about you, about your art, that you feel represents your authenticity? How does writing help you to be more empowered in our purpose?
I’m not sure what I do is unique per se, but what I have always done and will continue to do is write straight from my heart and in my own voice. I will also continue to do so with integrity and with the hope of helping as many people as I possibly can, all of which helps me fulfill the purpose God has assigned to my life.