Sunday, November 09, 2008
Author Interview, Xavier Knight
Today we have the second interview in our 'Men of Christian Fiction" series with author, C Kelly Robinson aka Xavier Knight in the world of Christian Fiction, who also allows friends and loved ones to call him Chet. I'm glad to be in the number.
Welcome to Urban Christian Fiction, Chet. Please introduce yourself to my readers. In 1996, I was a young man in my mid-twenties, newly married and successfully pursuing a career in corporate finance after attending Howard University and earning an MBA. The only problem was, I was still filled with a need to pursue a dream that bore its way into my thoughts from a young age: becoming an author. It was around this time I began a program of formal and self-study in creative writing, a process that led to the self-publication of BETWEEN BROTHERS, a novel I released and promoted heavily with my wife’s help. By 2002 Random House had purchased the rights to that book and a second one, NO MORE MR. NICE GUY, which had topped the Essence best-seller list. I have had five additional novels published since.
Tell us about your novel, The Things We Do For Love.
The story is an inspirational tale about two Christian marriages struggling under the weight of scandalous behavior. Jesse and Dionne are a seemingly perfect couple with high-profile careers – he is an R&B star turned gospel singer, she is a successful evangelist. As the story opens, though, Jesse is trying to perpetrate an unthinkable fraud on his wife, one concerning an infant boy they are trying to adopt after years struggling to have a child of their own. There is only one person in Jesse’s life with a bigger scandal in his closet – Coleman, who is his best friend and fellow lead singer in their gospel group. And although Coleman has been perfectly faithful to his wife, Suzette, when uncomfortable truths about his past love life emerge, he faces far more scorn than Jesse ever would.
This novel’s reading group discussion questions thoughtfully draw on the themes in the novel. Some of them are a little controversial. I can imagine a pretty lively book club meeting discussion. Tell us about some of these exchanges.
The real controversies I’ve observed in the book club discussions revolve around 1) whether Dionne and Suzette should choose to stay with their husbands, and why or why not and 2) whether Coleman’s claims about his sexuality are true and are in line with God’s will. I have seen the full range of reactions out there – from women who cringe at the very thought of homosexuality, but are quick to forgive Jesse’s heterosexual adultery, to others who sympathize with Coleman because they have several gay family members.
What would you like readers to take away from this story?
I hope that people are reminded of the fact that marriage, and the Christian walk in general, are not always easy nor pretty journeys. While the struggles of these characters are hopefully entertaining, I find that a lot of people see aspects of their own lives and relationships in these pages. Hopefully it holds up a mirror that helps encourage them to stick it out in those marital rough patches, while keeping an open line with God to ensure that we all respect our marital vows without sacrificing our respective well-being.
Can we expect to see any of these characters again?
I have no plans to bring them back, but that could change.
Share a little about the journey from mainstream fiction to Christian Fiction writing. It has been a great joy – I always tended to have Christian themes or characters woven throughout my stories. No w I have the freedom to be more open about it.
Wow! Five books under your belt and you decide to switch genres. Some would say career suicide. I applaud your for the courage to follow the call on your life, but tell us about the response from your readers. Well, between you and me career considerations went out the door a while ago when it comes to competing in the African-American fiction market. I choose to write what God places on my heart and trust Him to open doors at the right publisher if it is meant to be. Reader response has been encouraging – I have yet to receive a bad review, which is not something you can always count on!
Please share some wisdom with aspiring writers and new authors like myself.
If you’re serious about getting a book written, commit first to honing your craft and secondarily to setting aside a time slot several times a week in which you just GET IT DONE. Get that first draft down, then you can take all the time needed to edit it and get feedback from other writers and experts.
I asked Chet to get personal and he answered the following:
Favorite Worship Song: “Breathe” by Mitchell Jones (former Commissioned lead singer)
Favorite Scripture: II Corinthians 12:9
Favorite Food: These days, burritos from Chipotle Mexican Grille.
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? I still need to get my wife back to Maui, where we honeymooned 12 years ago. Most beautiful place in which I have ever vacationed, out of a dozen or more tropical locations.
If you could spend an hour with any person, living or deceased, who would it be and why? If we’re talking about mortals, I’d probably say any of my grandparents. Most of them passed away before I was 21, so only now do I really appreciate the strength and faith they had in order to accomplish so much in a society that was much more restrictive of their rights and opportunities. Beyond earthly beings of course, it would be Jesus Christ.
If you were going to a deserted island and could only take one novel that you didn’t write what would it be and why? Tough one. I don’t think I could do just one, but since it sounds like I’d have some time on my hands it would probably be something like Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man so I could chew over the texture and imagery of the story, maybe a Toni Morrison collection so I could take time to really dig deep and catch more of the significance that evades me when I’m reading amidst a typically hectic day; and then one of the most heralded works of someone like Saul Bellow or Richard Ford, whom I know of by reputation but have never prioritized actually reading.
This was a great book. I really enjoyed it. When will we see another title from Xavier Knight? GOD ONLY KNOWS, a story of four female friends who confront a violent act from their youth, comes out in March 2009.
Thanks so much for visiting Urban Christian Fiction. Please let me my readers know how they may get in contact with you.
Thank you for the opportunity! Look me up at http://www.ckellyrobinson.com/ or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, pre-order God Only Knows at Amazon.com.