The author who created the magnetic characters in the Rev. Curtis Black series is coming to Raleigh.
Kimberla Lawson Roby, a New York Times bestselling storyteller, will come to town on the second day of her national book tour to introduce “The Ultimate Betrayal,” the 12th book in the series.
She will read excerpts and sign copies of the book at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 10, at Barnes & Noble at Triangle Town Center. She’ll also chat with readers, leaving any topic open for discussion.
Roby, classified as a novelist of romantic and women’s fiction, uses her pen to underscore our need to focus on real-life social issues. She saturates her novels with the drama and redemption of church corruption, addictions, infidelity, adult sibling rivalries, domestic violence, sexual harassment and abuse, and racial and gender discrimination in the workplace.
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Her work also touches on social status, infertility, single motherhood and loss.
“They are issues we don’t talk about enough, either because they’re taboo or uncomfortable to talk about,” Roby said. “But they are still issues we need to discuss.”
Roby said she took “a scenic route” to writing. It all began when she realized her career in finance offered, at best, a slow ride up the career ladder.
What echoed in tandem were voices of teachers from elementary school to college who vowed storytelling and writing were her gifts.
In April 1995, Roby was working by day as a financial analyst for the city of Rockford, Ill., and she reserved nights and weekends to write. By year’s end, her first novel, “Behind Closed Doors,” was ready for readers.
But she couldn’t convince literary agents the manuscript was worth their while. Her husband, Will, urged her to self-publish the book.
Three months later, with booming sales, Roby returned to publishers. She didn’t walk out empty handed.
Her second book, “Here and Now,” was published in 1999 and was followed in 2000 by “Casting the First Stone,” the first – and what Roby planned as the only – book about Curtis Black.
“From the very beginning, when I started writing, I always said I would never write a series of books,” Roby said. “I didn’t want to take a chance on writing something that wasn’t fresh.”
Readers demanded something different. Twelve doesn’t seem to be enough, either. And Roby is ready to give us more with e-books and short stories.
“The Ultimate Betrayal” is Roby’s 22nd book in 19 years, including 10 standalone titles. Her 23rd book, a novella called “Best Friends Forever,” is already in publishers’ hands.
Even so, there seems to be something special about the Curtis Black series.
“Readers like me, we just can’t get enough of this series,” said Tina Reese, a Barnes & Noble bookseller who has been a fan of Roby for more than a decade. “She knows how to connect with readers. We can relate to her writing. She captivates us and keeps us wanting more with another twist that leaves us hanging on for the next book. It’s like a soap opera. It’s drama!”
Roby’s Facebook page, which she manages herself, is ablaze with readers overjoyed a new book is ready. They’re even more thrilled she’s stopping in Raleigh.
Several local customers pre-ordered “The Ultimate Betrayal,” which goes on sale June 9, Reese said.
“We’re expecting a wonderful turnout,” Amanda Pottinger, community development manager for Barnes & Noble in the Triangle, said of the June 10 event. “Everyone is excited – our booksellers, our customers and the community. We’re anxious for her visit.”
From Raleigh, the tour will take Roby to South Carolina, Illinois, Wisconsin, Texas, Louisiana and Georgia.
“I’m very happy I didn’t give up,” Roby said.
She offers this advice to anyone facing change or challenge: “Believe in God, believe in yourself, and believe in whatever you’re trying to accomplish.”