Sunday, August 09, 2009

Author Kimberla Lawson Roby has "The Best of Everything"

Today I’m reposting an interview with author, Kimberla Lawson Roby. I will interview Roby personally about the release of her new book this fall, but I felt compelled to post this interview today because of a conversation I had with an author friend this earlier in the week.

There is much debate about what is Christian Fiction and what is not. It’s the age old argument that we have in the church – who’s church is more holier, who’s denomination has it all right, who’s going to heaven and who’s not. In my opinion, all a bunch of stuff that really and truly gets in the way of effective ministry. While there certainly is a need to separate the wheat from the chaff, there’s too much of it, and with it has come the spirit of condemnation and judgment.

I’m a Kim Roby fan. Always have been since she self-published her first novel, Behind Closed Doors. Would I ever classify Kim as a Christian Fiction author? Up until about a year ago, absolutely not. Her books contained sex and cursing. That immediately eliminated her novels from what I deem to be Christian Fiction. But Roby has made a shift in her writing, certainly one that her fans and critics should take note of. I noticed it when I read her 2008 release Sin No More. I kept waiting for the big sex scene I would have to skip over (because I don’t read them) and it never happened. Then there was One In A Million and The Best Kept Secret and I thought well isn’t that something, she’s trending in a different direction. Like I said, I'm a fan, but I was pleased.

Back to the conversation I had with my author friend. We were discussing the National Book Club Conference and she talked about the Christian Fiction authors or those who in her opinion aren’t really writing Christian Fiction that are exploiting the genre for sales. Roby was one of them. (First of all I thought it was hysterical that she would think any of the authors she listed would exploit this genre for sales. Everyone knows that outside of a Karen Kingsbury or Ted Dekker and a few others if anyone is making less money in publishing it would be Christian Fiction authors. So she was quite misinformed on the money aspect.) I asked her if she had read Ms. Roby’s work lately and she said no. I told her that her work had moved in a different direction and she said “Well, it’s too late now, she has all those books out there.” I was saddened, not because I need to have Ms. Roby accepted as a Christian Fiction author. She's a NY Times Bestselling author, her books are in a class by themselves. I was saddened because this person was so narrow minded, and unwilling to move past what she considered to be unforgivable sin. I decided to leave that between her and her God, but I do recall a scripture in the Bible that says “Judge not, lest you be judged.”

The thing that is most disturbing about this all and we’ll remove Ms. Roby from this point of discussion, is what if an author had a collection of erotica books. This person became saved and began writing the books she felt the Lord had called her to write. Is she not acceptable to us in the genre because she started out writing something else? The bigger question is “Can the lost come back home to the church?”Think about it? Are we deciding who’s good enough for ministry? Who’s good enough for Jesus? Not this girl.I look forward to watching Ms. Roby's work evolve into all that God has called it to be. I listened to an interview she did on Urban Reviews when "The Best of Everything" was released where she talked about her spiritual growth and it's impression on her writing. Ms. Roby is blessed. When any of us can get up every day and do what we know we are called to do, then we truly have the best of everything.


Rhonda McKnight

Enjoy Patricia Woodside’s interview with Ms. Roby and leave and a comment and tell me what you think:

Reposted from

Today's featured author in Black Christian Fiction on Parade brings a little controversy with her, even before I posted her feature.

Today's featured author is Kimberla Lawson Roby.

As with some other very popular AA Christian Fiction authors, there's some debate as to whether Ms. Roby's books qualify as Christian fiction. Well, that's not for me to say. Although there's always been a faith thread in her stories, I suspect the controversy stems from some of the literary choices Ms. Roby made. Here's what she has to say, first in an interview with SORMAG earlier this year and before that, in a 2008 interview with author Connie Briscoe.
"If I had it to do over again, I never would have used any words of profanity in my work just because it is sometimes used by people in real life---especially since I don't use words like that myself. In my first nine novels, I didn't use profanity on every page and not even in every chapter, but on occasion, if a character was angry, hurt or had been betrayed in some way, I did have the character say a select word here and there. But as I began writing my tenth novel, SIN NO MORE, I wasn't comfortable with using even one curse word in my work and haven't done so with any book since then. The other good news, too, is that I have felt very relieved about the change I made, and I am excited to be doing what I believe God wants me to do."
"...actually, as of Sin No More, I stopped writing detailed sex scenes of any kind. Even in my past novels, I never wrote erotica and worked hard not to write anything offensive, but I finally realized it just wasn’t necessary to include all the details unless the story is somehow centered on sex."
To date, I've only read Casting The First Stone, back when it was first published. I'm honestly not sure why, although perhaps these issues struck a nerve at that time. However, I can appreciate an author who grows in outlook as well as writing ability.

Enough about that.

Ms. Roby's success speaks for itself. Her books consistently make the NY Times and Essence Magazine bestseller lists among many others. Her first novel, Behind Closed Doors was originally self-published and was the #1 Blackboard Best-selling book for paperback fiction in 1997.
Regina Moore and Karen Jackson have been best friends since they were six. And now at age thirty, they've obtained what most women only dream of-wonderful careers, gorgeous homes in an upper-echelon Chicago suburb, and loving husbands to complete the package. Of course, all good things must and usually do come to an end. Regina's husband, Larry has been working too much overtime, and Karen's husband John has started donating his paycheck to the local horse track on a regular basis.

What happens when a husband and wife appear to have the perfect life on the outside, when in reality, their marriage is practically falling apart behind closed doors?
Her second novel, Casting the First Stone, the one I had the pleasure to read, introduced the Rev. Curtis Black, who was so popular that he has since appeared in six other books.
Tanya Black has everything a woman could want: a fulfilling career, a beautiful daughter, an elegant home and a handsome, charismatic husband who pastors a prominent Baptist church. And yet, Tanya can no longer deny that the calm surface of her life hides a growing turbulence. Her husband Curtis, once a supportive partner and passionate lover, has grown remote, and Tanya has the uneasy feeling that her comfortable life is about to change forever.

When Tanya uncovers disturbing truths about Curtis, she is plunged into a bittersweet journey of discovery. For while she learns painful new lessons about love, betrayal and sensual temptation, she also discovers, within herself, the wisdom to celebrate the victories that are hers alone.
Now author of twelve books, Ms. Roby's most recent book, The Best of Everything, was published this past January.
World-renowned Reverend Curtis Black’s daughter Alicia is all grown up and even more trouble than her father.

Alicia Black Sullivan swore to never repeat her father’s mistakes: she would never break any promises, she would never be unfaithful. And most important of all, when she got married, it would be for good.

And she really does love Philip, the assistant pastor of her father’s church. She just happens to love money – and the things it can buy – as well. Alicia was born to the good life, she’s entitled to the best, and she’ll do anything to get it. Even if it means piling up thousands of dollars in debt. Even if it means denying to everyone—even herself—that her love of shopping has gotten way out of control.

Before long, Philip begins to wonder if marrying the woman of his dreams was a huge mistake. Alicia has the same thoughts, too. Deep down, though, she knows a whopper of an emotional bill is coming due. And all the regrets in the world won’t change the fact that she may be more like her infamous father than she could have imagined—or feared.
You can learn more about Kimberla Lawson Roby and her books at her website,


Anonymous said...

Ah Rhonda, what are we going to do with church folks? I enjoy Ms. Roby's books. I do like them more now that they don't have the cussing. I like what she did with Rev. Black's personality in Sin No More. She is very talented and you can tell she's a Christian.

Kim Hutchinson

Anonymous said...

I think Mrs. Lawson-Roby should be commended for having the courage to change her books when she has such a guaranteed audience with the books she's writing. I haven't read any of her books, but based on this recommendation I have added The Best of Everything to my list to pick up this weekend.

Rhonda - I entered your contest for the website. It's very nice. I can't wait for my book club to read your book. The excerpt was very engaging.

Anisha Tolliver

PatriciaW said...

Thanks for the re-post, Rhonda. I'm with you. Being in Christ is all about being reborn, renewed. So it is with authors who once wrote in a secular vein and now write Christian fiction.

I think it's about marketing though. If a reader read an earlier work and decided it wasn't for her, what's to attract her attention and/or convince her to try again? There are so many new authors out there, and more all the time. In most cases, she simply doesn't look back. Authors who make any type of genre switch have to work extra hard to get the word out.

Rhonda McKnight said...


Forgive me for not telling you I reposted. Meant to.

I agree it's alot of work to get the readers educated and the authors know that. I like Ms. Roby's approach. Her voice is the same, her stories are the same, she just removed the foul language and the graphic sex, so it really doesn't feel much different. Just feels better.

But for someone who goes from Erotica to CF or even from writing Sci Fi to Romance I suggest a pen name. Hard to sell a different genre to readers. Very hard.

Thanks for stopping by.

Anonymous said...

I have never read any of this authors books. I only read Christian fiction with redemptive messages, but I don't think that means there isn't room in the world of Christian literature for diversity.

That author was very narrow minded. I wonder if she really realizes how what she said came across. In any event perhaps I will check out one of Mrs. Roby's books and see if I have found a new author to add to my list.

Informative as always Rhonda. Looking forward to Secrets and Lies.

Margarget G.

Sharon Ball said...

Sometimes we Christians mean well, but we can be so close minded. I guess none of us is perfect. Thankfully, our God is not limited by our human flaws and weaknesses. I'm glad Kimberla has decided to write for Him and I know that her books will reach every person the Lord intends for them to.

Kimberla said...

Thank you so much for all your support, Rhonda, and as always, I am very grateful to you. Sadly, though, I think it is really interesting to hear that the author you were speaking with would say that I am exploiting the Christian genre, because not once in my entire career have I stated that my work falls into the "Christian fiction" category. As a matter of fact, there have been so many times over the years when readers would tell me that they felt my work was Christian fiction, and I would quickly disagree with them. What I would say instead was that I am a Christian who just so happens to write fiction. Now, though, I am fine with whatever my readers choose to call my work because when it comes to writing, it is them--and not critical naysayers--who are my primary concern. My wonderfully loyal readers who God has thankfully blessed me with are the people who keep my career going, and, in the end, they are what truly, truly the end I think everyone should remember two things: 1) God is the only judge we should ever concern ourselves with, and 2) Instead of criticizing others, we should spend our days a lot more wisely---we should focus on bettering ourselves both personally and professionally, so much so, that we won't have even the smallest bit of time to worry about someone else or worry about what he or she is or isn't doing.

Victoria Christopher Murray said...

I used to love this debate, and now, I am so, so tired of it. The thing is, who decides if a book is Christian fiction or not? Y'all know my story. I never set out to write Christian fiction, and frankly don't like the label. Because here's the thing - I believe in the Great Commission. And, I believe that I'm supposed to use my gift to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. That means that I'm supposed to go outside of the church. Now with the label of "Christian fiction," how do I go outside those doors? I can't - not really. It is true, Rhonda, and hysterical that someone would say that an author is exploiting the Christian fiction genre. If I hadn't been branded with that label, I believe my sales would have been far higher than they are today. So that author's words and thoughts don't make any sense. But the judgement is amazing. Let me say, as the person who has been deemed the Mother of Christian Fiction - there are no rules to writing in this genre. And this is why - there are many ways to lead people to Jesus Christ. There is only one way to God - that's through Christ. But many find Christ in different ways. Let us all do what God has put on our hearts! Whatever that is - write it!