If the name Reverend Curtis Black means something to you, then you've probably been eagerly anticipating the next installment of Kimberla Lawson Roby's popular series named after the novels' lead character. This week, the New York Times bestselling author released The Reverend's Wife, the ninth book in the series (and her 17th novel to date!), so we sat down with Roby to tap into the latest scandals in the reverend's world, the role church has played in her writing and her advice for other aspiring authors struggling to get their voices heard.
BET.com: So tell us a bit about what goes on in this next installment of the Reverend Curtis Black series? What can readers expect?
Kimberla Lawson Roby: As this story opens, the Reverend Curtis Black has decided that enough is enough. His wife has had some issues of infidelity in the past, but she's now had two other affairs so he's now decided he wants to file for divorce. He has basically said when our son graduates high school and heads to Harvard in the fall, that's when I'm filing the papers and, of course, Charlotte is very devastated by that. She's very sorry, she's doing all she can to try to make amends, but Curtis is really ready to move on and it does not help that there's another woman in the church who is desperately trying to become the next Mrs. Curtis Black. So that's really where their problems become even worse.
How did you conjure up Reverend Curtis Black? What or who inspired his character?
My husband actually inspired me to write the story, but I guess having been in church my entire life I have seen and heard a lot. But when I had written the first book, Casting the First Stone, in 2000 and the second book that had nothing really to do with the pastor and his wife or the church as a whole, I said to my husband I want to write something again that people can relate to. So he said what about all of the issues that tend to go on in some churches. So I thought that really does cross denominational lines and it crosses racial lines and gender lines and financial lines and so that's really how the story and the character were born.
You like to explore certain themes like corruption within the church, infidelity, social status, jealousy and abuse in your works. Why are you so drawn to these topics and what messages are you hoping to convey by writing about these issues?
I'm drawn to it because I think it goes on more often than not and also I think that it's unfortunate that so much corruption and scandal goes on in the church. My hope is that when readers read my story that they will really pay attention to who their spiritual and faith-based leaders are and that they find a church and a pastor who's really trying to do the right thing and someone's who's really not trying to lead them astray.
As far as the messages in the book, I'm always trying to show redemption and forgiveness and just this understanding that yes, we all fall short, we all commit sins, but we all have a future and we can always turn things around and try to do better.
What advice do you have for other aspiring authors who are struggling to get published?
First off, just sit down and start doing it. Figure out your voice, learn the class of writing, never mimic another writer and just stick with it. Once you've done that, find a professional editor or freelance editor to edit your work before you start submitting to literary agents and publishing houses. Definitely do all that you can when it comes to studying and learning every single thing available about the business of publishing.
Now that your latest book has been released, what other projects do you have in the works?
I already have my January 8, 2013 book finished and [it] is in production. It's called The Perfect Marriage and it's a standalone title. My next Curtis Black title will be out in May 2013 and then I have a Christmas novella to be released in October of next year. This will be the first time that three will be released in a year, but it's just been a blessing all around and a journey that I wouldn't have even imagined so I've been very grateful for it.
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(Photo: Grand Central Publishing)