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VBD MAGAZINE'S COVER STORY: Kimberla Lawson Roby

KIMBERLA LAWSON ROBY

Empowering Women Through Faith, Fiction, and the Realities of Everyday Life


Kimberla Lawson Roby is a name that resonates with millions of readers worldwide. As a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author, Speaker, Podcast Host, and the Founder of Successful Women of Faith – The Sisterhood, Kimberla has crafted a legacy that intertwines faith, fiction, and female empowerment. With an impressive collection of 29 published books, including her faith-based nonfiction title The Woman God Created You to Be: Finding Success Through FaithSpiritually, Personally, and Professionally and a multitude of beloved novels, Kimberla’s works have touched on critical issues and offered readers a mirror reflecting the complexities and triumphs of everyday life.

 

During our Zoom interview, Kimberla exuded a warmth and authenticity that created a palpable sense of joy, even through the screen. Her graceful and engaging presence, combined with her eloquent and welcoming manner of speaking, drew us in from the start. As she shared her journey, her radiant smile and positive energy infused our conversation with encouragement and inspiration, transforming the interview into an uplifting and memorable experience. 

 

SEEDS OF STORYTELLING

Kimberla was born and raised in Rockford, Illinois, where she still resides today. “I grew up in a household where, by the time I was five years old, my grandparents, my mom’s parents, actually moved in with us,” she reminisces. This early familial setup, combined with a love for communication that was evident from her elementary school years, planted the seeds of storytelling within her. “Writing always felt natural to me. I started hearing compliments and wonderful feedback from my teachers,” Kimberla recalls, pointing to her early involvement in journalism and her stint as a morning anchor for her junior high school’s closed-circuit TV news broadcast.

 

Unlike many writers who discover their passion early on, Kimberla’s journey to becoming an author took a detour. “I never aspired to write,” she admits. “It was not until I turned 30 years old that I ever sat down and wrote the first word of my first novel.” Her initial career path was in business administration, leading to various roles in corporate America, state, and city government. Yet, despite her professional success, Kimberla felt a void—a sense that something was missing.


A LEAP OF FAITH

Inner dissatisfaction about her work life led Kimberla to begin praying, seeking divine guidance on her true purpose. “I was so miserable, and I didn’t have anything else to turn to,” she confesses. This period of introspection brought back memories of her love for writing. Encouraged by her husband, Will, and her mother, Arletha, Kimberla decided to pursue writing, leading to the creation of her debut novel Behind Closed Doors.

 

The path to publish this novel was fraught with challenges. “I was rejected by every single literary agent I queried and contacted,” Kimberla shares. Undeterred, she turned to editors directly, only to face further rejections. At a point of near defeat, it was her husband’s faith in her talent and his willingness to invest financially that prompted Kimberla to take the bold step of self-publishing. “Why can’t you take your business background, start your own company, and publish the book yourself?” her husband asked, a question that set the wheels of Kimberla’s literary career in motion.

 

CRAFTING STORIES THAT MATTER

Kimberla’s novels explore myriads of real-life issues—sisterhood, women empowerment, Christian and family values, marriage, infidelity, single motherhood, breast cancer, infertility, and domestic violence. These themes resonate deeply with her readers, providing both solace and a sense of solidarity. “I wanted to write something that I thought, first of all, I would be interested in reading,” Kimberla explains.

 

Her commitment to addressing real-life struggles is evident in the feedback she receives from her readers. “They kept reading because they could relate to the problems and the struggles that these two women, the main characters, were dealing with,” Kimberla notes regarding her debut book’s reception. This authenticity has become a hallmark of Kimberla’s work, making her a trusted voice in contemporary fiction.

 

WRITING PROCESS

Approaching writing with a methodical mindset, Kimberla emphasizes the importance of prayer in her creative process. “When I am ready to write, I am in prayer and my prayer is for God to give me the words that He wants me to say,” she reveals. This spiritual grounding is essential to her creative process, ensuring that her work not only entertains but also uplifts and inspires.

 

Kimberla writes every day when drafting a novel, maintaining a disciplined schedule to keep the narrative fresh and consistent. She also values the solitude that writing requires. “I prefer to have total and complete silence throughout the entire writing of the book,” Kimberla states, emphasizing the importance of minimizing distractions to maintain her creative flow. 


LITERARY EXCELLENCE

Kimberla’s contributions to literature have been recognized with numerous prestigious awards and accolades. She is the recipient of the 2013 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work – Fiction, the 2017 SOAR Radio Trailblazer of Honor award, the 2017 Southwest Florida Reading Festival Distinguished Author award, and the 2017 AAMBC Christian Fiction Author of the Year award, among others. Her work has been celebrated by the African American Literary Awards Show, earning her multiple Female Author of the Year awards. Additionally, she was inducted into the Rock Valley College Alumni Hall of Fame in 2001 and named by USA Today as one of the 100 black novelists you should read in August 2020. Her first nonfiction book, The Woman God Created You to Be: Finding Success Through Faith—Spiritually, Personally, and Professionally, received an NAACP Image Award nomination in February 2021. In March 2024, she was honored with the Rockford Area Arts Award for Literary Excellence by the Rockford Area Arts Council in Illinois. Kimberla’s commitment to her community is further evidenced by her service on two Rockford-area boards: the YWCA Northwestern Illinois Foundation Board and the Friends of the Coronado Foundation Board.


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Photo Credit: Sonya Martin

Photo Credit: Antwon AG

Photo Credit: Brian Adams


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