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Q&A with author Kimberla Lawson Roby

becarefulwhat you pray for

Book signings
Author Kimberla Lawson Roby signs her new book, “Be Careful What You Pray For,” at noon Mon., Jan 25. Atlanta-Fulton Public Library, 1 Margaret Mitchell Square. 404-730-4636. Another signing is scheduled for 7 p.m. Mon., Jan 25. at Borders at the Mall at Stonecrest. 678-526-2550, Also visit

By Adrianne Murchison
Kimberla Lawson Roby has found her niche writing on a hush-hush topic — church scandals.
This week the New York Times best-selling author released “Be Careful What You Pray For.” It is her 14th book, and No. 8 in her fictional series centered on the family of ambitious pastor Curtis Black.
Her latest story follows the reverend’s oldest child, Alicia, who unfortunately can be as driven as her father, Roby says. After a failed marriage to a man who was not financially desirable, Alicia marries a reputable pastor who can provide for her in the manner to which she is accustomed. But apparently, he’s in the marriage for opportunity rather than love. And that’s just the beginning of Alicia’s problems, the author says.
Roby, 44, lives in Belvidere, Ill. Between book signings nationwide, she intends to write two books each in 2011 and 2012 and says two of her previous books, “One in a Million” and “Casting the First Stone,” are on track to become films.
She recently discussed her characters and what inspires their stories.

Q: Usually in stories the child who follows in the father’s footsteps is a son. What inspired you to create Alicia’s character instead?
A: When you think of “preacher’s kids” you don’t necessarily look at women who have pastors as fathers. We see so much of [Curtis Black] in Alicia. No, she is not the head of the church, but her way of thinking and what she expects to have in life is definitely learned behavior.

Q: What about the church resonates for you and made you want to create this series?
A: I think having been born into the church and seeing so much good and bad there throughout my life. In my own church we ousted three pastors for one reason or another — affairs, money, everything across the board — between 1987 and 1997. So when I wrote this book, I said to my husband that even though I’m writing in a fictional format, I want to be able to write about real-life issues that anyone can relate to.
Q: What do readers say to you about this topic?
A: Readers tell me at events and through e-mail that the Rev. Curtis Black is alive and well in every city in this country. Some say, “Let me tell you about my experience. This is almost identical to what happened in your book.” I see how common the experiences are and also how people have been hurt by what they’ve gone through.

Q: What other kinds of stories do you want to tell?
A: I want to stick to social issues like in my novella “A Deep Dark Secret” [released in September]. It’s about a 12-year-old girl who lives what people perceive as a perfect life, but nobody knows that her stepfather has been sexually molesting this child for seven years. I want to write about topics that maybe aren’t so comfortable to discuss, but happen to millions of people.

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