New York Times Bestselling Author Kimberla Lawson Roby, the author of 27 books, has reached a milestone in her storied writing career. From Kimberla’s newsletter:
Well, the time has finally come…to bring my Reverend Curtis Black Series to an end. When I first wrote CASTING THE FIRST STONE, which was released in January 2000, I never planned on writing a sequel or creating a series—until my then literary agent, Elaine Koster, told me that because I had such loyal and dedicated readers who were asking me to write a sequel, I had an obligation to give them what they were asking for. Today, I am truly thankful for her advice, as writing the Reverend Curtis Black Series has certainly given me so much joy, and even more, it allowed me to connect with all of you in ways I will forever be grateful for. As readers, you became my family and friends, and it is because of your kindness and encouragement over the years that I was inspired to continue writing the series, one book after another.
Now, though, the end is here, and the 15th and final title in the series, BETTER LATE THAN NEVER, will be released on Tuesday, July 31, 2018! This, of course, is proving to be a bittersweet time for me, but I am so happy and excited to have brought Reverend Curtis Black full circle! If you’ve read the first fourteen books in the series, then you know that once upon a time, Curtis was completely consumed with money, power and women, but today, he is a true man of God, a faithful husband and a great father. Reverend Curtis Black is proof that any of us can change for the better if we choose to, regardless of childhood trauma and other struggles we may experience as adults.
In BETTER LATE THAN EVER, Curtis reunites with his terminally-ill sister who he has been estranged from for decades, and if that isn’t enough, he is now forced to relive vivid scenes from his horrifying, abusive childhood. At the same time, his wife Charlotte, decides that she can no longer pretend that she loves being first lady of their church…when in truth, she literally despises it. And then, their youngest daughter, twelve-year-old Curtina, is causing more problems for Curtis and Charlotte than they ever thought possible.
As this is the end of a notable series, I thought I would interview Kimberla about the evolution of Rev. Curtis Black in this last offering, the series coming to an end, what’s next in her life and overall tips for authors and readers. Please see our interview below. And if you would prefer to listen to the interview, that option is below the written interview. Enjoy and learn!
1. Why are you ending the Rev. Curtis Black series now?
For a number of years, I have been leading up to this point. I never actually knew when it was going to happen but when I wrote the last couple of books, books 13 and 14, that’s when I realized that I finally, finally had Curtis in a place that I was trying to get him to. I wanted to bring him full circle. I wanted to show that any of us, anyone at all, can change for the better if they choose to. So Curtis went from being this pastor who was consumed with money and power and women and now today, he is a genuine man. He is a true man of God. He’s a great husband. And he’s a great father. I just wanted to be able to end it on that kind of a note.
2. And you mentioned in the introduction that this would be a different type of book. And it has been a different type of book. It’s a quieter book, but it goes deeper than some of the other books. Why did you do that this time around?
I wanted to, of course, go back and show Curtis’ what childhood was like. While he has mentioned it throughout the years, like in the third book, when his mom passes away, that is when he finally sees his sister again. And of course, he hasn’t even seen his mom until he sees her in her casket. But I wanted to show the effects of his childhood, how that really turned him into the person he once was. It certainly does not justify his terrible actions, all of the sins he committed. It does not justify his hurting the number of people that he hurt in his earlier years. But it certainly shows that whatever happens in our childhood will affect us, in one way or another, for the rest of our lives.
3. And is that what you hope readers will get from this final installment?
I do. I hope they will get that, and I hope that in reading about his estrangement with his sister, now seeing her again in a terminally ill state, I’m hoping that readers will see that forgiveness means everything. That no matter what those issues have been or those problems with family members or close friends, moving on and forgiving others is basically the key to life.
4. As the daughter of a pastor and having seen a First Lady up close, I was really intrigued by Charlotte’s story line about not wanting to be the typical First Lady. Where did that idea come from to explore that?
Throughout these years, when I first started writing the Rev. Curtis Black series and went out on that first release tour, I really, I guess, was afraid of what people were going to say, the kind of backlash I was going to receive. What happened instead was that I heard from First Ladies coming up to me at events and whispering sometimes or e-mailing me privately saying, ‘Thank you for writing my story. Thank you for saying what I’m not able to say because so many of our parishioners will see us on Sunday mornings, maybe we have that smile on our face, maybe we’re dressed in a nice suit, but they really have no idea what we’re feeling and what we’re dealing with the other six days of the week.’
So in talking to pastors’ wives and First Ladies throughout the country over these last 18 years since that first title in the series was released, I realized the private pain that so many of them were dealing with and how they weren’t even focused on their own purpose necessarily in life because they were focused on their husbands’ purpose and that they were dealing with people in their churches who sometimes wouldn’t smile back at them or didn’t even like them for one reason or another yet they were placed in a position where they had to remain silent about it.
5. Another plot point I was shocked by but it was an interesting story to read about was fast mama Curtina. Did that come from something you had heard about? Where did that come from?
That did and not necessarily from pastors and their wives and their children. But I’m seeing it across the board with family members and friends and just acquaintances sharing exactly what is going on with their 12-year-old daughters. And sometimes unfortunately, I’ve heard about it from as young as 10 and 11 year olds. So these are girls who are thinking about things and doing things that I never even considered when I was that age. So it really is a trying time for many of our parents of today.
6. Now, I see you’ve re-released the very first book in the series ‘Casting the First Stone,’ and I wanted to know what made you want to do that now and what has been the response from releasing it?
It’s been great. It’s been a better response than I imagined. Early on, when I published my first three books, those were the print edition and audio edition, and people were not thinking about the electronic edition then. This was before the e-book trend. I’ve had the rights to ‘Casting the First Stone’ and two of my other stand alone titles, but I never really pushed the idea of releasing those on my own, but when I knew that I was finally bringing the series to an end, I thought how great would it be to go ahead and release this first book.
Self-publishing is something I haven’t done in a long time, but also because, when I started to announce that the 15th and final book of the series was coming out this year, I had so many readers saying they wanted to start from book one and read that first 14 and re-familiarize themselves with the story line to prepare for the 15th. And then, of course, I started to hear from readers who basically only read e-books.
7. I read through your acknowledgements and you thanked everybody and their grandmamma like they say. So I was just thinking to myself, I know this is the end of this particular series, but since you thanked so many people, I wondered was there a hidden message in all of that.
Well, I think that it is the end of an era because for so many years, I’ve been writing and for a number of years, I’ve been writing two books a year so I have my standalone titles and I’ve always had my readers who have read those books and told me that they enjoyed them and that they really helped them in one way or another. But certainly, over the years, when you hear Kimberla Lawson Roby, most people do tend to think about Rev. Curtis Black.
And so I just wanted to thank my readers and family members and friends and everyone, people like you in the industry who played such a major part in keeping the information about the books out there, hearing those comments from readers, how they saw the characters as real life people so I just thought I couldn’t have done this certainly without God and His grace and the favor He saw fit to have on my life, but certainly because of so many people. So no, I’m not ending my writing career but it is the end of an era with my Rev. Curtis Black series. And now this finally allows me to move forward with other projects I’ve been wanting to work on that really don’t have a lot to do with writing.
Can you tell me a little bit more about that?
Well, I’m certainly moving a lot more into my speaking arena if you will. I’ve always known that God has always had a purpose for my life when it comes to speaking to women so I’m now freed up a little bit more to take on those speaking engagements. I don’t have to pass on them the way that I was doing the last few years.
8. This is an off-the-top-of-my-head question. You’ve written 27 books. What are the top three changes that you’ve noticed in your writing and career as you’ve written these 27 books?
I think from a writing standpoint, my craft has improved over the years and that’s just with writing more books and reading more books and certainly hearing from my readers and really, really listening to them in terms of what they enjoyed and what they were looking for and what was helping them. The second thing is e-books. It’s way different now with my career from when I started out back in the mid to late 90s. For a while, e-books were maybe five or 10 percent of sales when the books would come out with the hardcover. Then I saw it at 20 to 25 percent. Then eventually it was maybe 30 percent. Then, eventually, it was 50 percent. And sometimes even more. We saw it exceed that first month of sales in terms of comparing to the print edition so that’s one thing. And the other thing is social media.
Social media changed everything. It changed the entire landscape for my career because it allowed me to really interact with readers across the board both here in the U.S. and abroad in a way that I would have never been able to had social media not come about.
9. Now to what do you attribute your longevity in this industry to? I know you’re going to say God and of course, that is great. But in addition to God, are there any other things you have done as a writer that you feel has helped you to get you where you are, since you are going to be speaking to women and maybe authors. Are there any things that you can pinpoint?
There are two things or maybe three. Obviously, I am going to say God because we know that nothing is possible without God.
But the second thing is I worked really, really hard to build my relationships with readers one reader at a time, one book club at a time, one group at a time. I started to see them like my family members and friends. That really made a difference and that was always extremely important to me. I never would have continued writing had I not heard from them or received the amount of encouragement and love and support that I received from my readers over the years. I’m sure that most writers believe that they have the best readers in the world and I certainly have always said that and always felt like that.
Also, I feel that you have to stay true to yourself regardless of what becomes popular, what becomes the thing to do. Many writers think well let me sort of jump on this bandwagon. This is where I’m going to become the most successful. And if I do this, this will allow me to sell more books. Even when I knew there were things that I could have done or said to make that happen. For example, I wasn’t willing to cross any lines that would cross or affect or go against my Christian values, my family values and my moral values.
10. All of these books that you have, all of this information, that people in television can go to, have you ever thought about making a movie or a series? There is ‘Greenleaf’ out there. Any thought about that?
I have and I have actually been approached and been in negotiations with a major movie studio. That was in 2013 and 2014 and both times, by the time I received the contracts, I passed both times.
In 2015, I received an offer and went through the contract negotiations with a major network, not cable, but a major network. They were actually looking for something to compete with Fox’s ‘Empire’ and interestingly enough, of course Rev. Curtis Black, even though he is a pastor, he could certainly do that. I ended up passing, and I passed because I needed to know that I would have some input if I saw something in the script each week that would cross the line. And I just didn’t want to see something happen that readers would be disappointed with, that it would veer way too far off from what they had read in the actual books.
So I have interest and once I have a producer who understands that and is willing to bring me on as an executive producer, hopefully that will happen. We’ll see.
Please see information about Kimberla’s upcoming book tour, see below:
To pre-order “Better Late Than Never,” clink on THIS LINK!