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[AARP Black Community Book Club Presents] [The Prodigal Son] [Kimberla Lawson Roby] >> [Edna Kane Williams] Hello, and welcome to AARP's Black Community Book Club. I'm your host Edna Kane Williams. [Edna Kane Williams, Host, AARP Black Community Book Club] We are here today with New York Times best-selling author Kimberla Lawson Roby. Her twentieth book, The Prodigal Son, is now on store shelves. Welcome, Kimberla. >> [Kimberla Lawson Roby] Thank you for having me. >> [Edna Kane Williams] So glad that you could be here. >> [Kimberla Lawson Roby] Thank you. >> [Edna Kane Williams] You're, like, famous. So many book, so many books. Now tell us about this book, The Prodigal Son. I know you talk about the black family a lot in your books. What's different about this? Tell us about the characters; tell us about the story you're engaged in. >> [Kimberla Lawson Roby] Well, in The Prodigal Son, of course we have Reverend Curtis Black again. [Kimberla Lawson Roby, Author, "The Prodigal Son"] But in this story, it is told in the voices of his two sons. The first Matthew who is twenty years old really has always been very, very close to Curtis, but at this point in his life, he has not spoken to his parents in over a year. This is also the same child who grew up being humiliated by Curtis and his wife, just still tried to keep a good heart and tried to do the right thing. But when he was graduating from high school, he and his girlfriend, Rochelle, announced that she was pregnant at the same time he had already won a four-year academic scholarship to Harvard University, went ahead and went but never felt OK with it, just felt like he needed to be responsible even though his parents encouraged him to continue college and her parents even were supporting him. He decided to drop out. He comes home. He's now married to her, and their son is now a one year old. But he's never been more miserable. >> [Edna Kane Williams] So with that story line, what are you trying to tell your readers in terms of the choices that he made? >> [Kimberla Lawson Roby] Well, I think it even goes back to not just Matthew's choices, but even looking at so many of the wrong choices that his mom and dad made. So when parents do that, I think you have to be very careful— >> [Edna Kane Williams] What the impact is. >> [Kimberla Lawson Roby] It can affect the child for the rest of their lives. So now fast-forwarding to his life now that he's an adult, he's kind of going down a different path but still mistakes are being made and ones that might affect him and his son. >> [Edna Kane Williams] So in a lot of ways, the book is about choices, about redemption— >> [Kimberla Lawson Roby] Yes. >> [Edna Kane Williams] —about moving forward. >> [Kimberla Lawson Roby] Yes. >> [Edna Kane Williams] It's ironic because AARP is a membership organization for people fifty and over. And we often find that at this stage in life, people are looking at those same kind of issues, choices, seeking redemption, seeking a new path. >> [Kimberla Lawson Roby] Yes. >> [Edna Kane Williams] We have this new initiative called Life Re-imagined where we are trying to tell people it's OK, that if you get to be fifty-one, fifty-two, sixty-one, sixty-two, seventy-one, seventy-two, that you still have plenty of time to sort of realize dreams and goals. >> [Kimberla Lawson Roby] Yes. >> [Edna Kane Williams] Talk about how— I saw a lot of parallels to our initiative, oddly as it may sound, to some of the subplots in your book. >> [Kimberla Lawson Roby] You know, I think— well, for one thing, you go to Rochelle. Rochelle is dealing with postpartum depression. Here she is, she's just twenty years old, and because they didn't notice it early on and now we're a year after she actually had her son, many times I think folks aren't looking for that, so you have these parents who are of a certain age and they're just thinking, "Oh, you know, she's basically going through a phase. This is probably not what people might think it is. So they don't necessarily get her the help that she needs. And then in some cases when she's making mistakes, they even enable her to some degree. So I think that, you know, as parents, what we find is that even though you are in your sixties and your seventies, you're children are still very much a part of your life, and you're still worrying about them every single day of the week. >> [Edna Kane Williams] Isn't that the truth? I mean, we use the term "sandwich generation" that people in their fifties and sixties, now you have adult children. It's just different now. >> [Kimberla Lawson Roby] Very much so. >> [Edna Kane Williams] Very different, and then you have your parents as well. >> [Kimberla Lawson Roby] Yes. >> [Edna Kane Williams] I think you're so unique because you have twenty books. There are not a lot of—maybe I'm wrong, but I'm a reader and I don't know many African-American authors that are as prolific as you are. What—where do you get your story lines from? I know you repeat characters and themes, but what's your motivation behind your success? >> [Kimberla Lawson Roby] Well, my motivation has always been writing about real life social issues. In many cases, the topics may be controversial and taboo, but usually I try to find something that I believe is very important and something we're not talking about enough. And so I'll take that issue and build the characters around them. Sometimes in my stand-alone titles, they're all new characters in the Reverend Curtis Black story where you're seeing some of the same. But the issue was always different, so I have a notebook, and literally it's not a computer. It's not anything professional looking. >> [Edna Kane Williams] Long hand? >> [Kimberla Lawson Roby] Yes, long hand just lists a long list of issues, and I just mark them off as I go along, and I'll peruse that list when I'm ready to write the next book and say, "haven't focused on that," or maybe it will be something that I've seen in the media, in the national news, and I'll kind of go from there. I think that because I write about those kinds of real-life issues that can affect anyone across the board, readers can relate their own lives to it or they can relate it to the lives of family members and friends and I just have always believed that maybe that keeps them reading. >> [Edna Kane Williams] Now, many have talked about re-imagining yourself. I've met a lot of people in the course of this job who want to be novelists, who want to be writers, who can't imagine having the kind of success that you have or even for myself even because I've always wanted to write. How do you bring the story together? How quickly can you—is that difficult for you? It must not be. >> [Kimberla Lawson Roby] Well, you know, I should—yeah, I guess it's difficult in that I never feel like it's going to be good enough, [Kimberla Lawson Roby, author, "The Prodigal Son"] so that's my struggle before I begin writing the next book, while I'm writing it, and even when I submit it to my publisher. So usually when I submit a book and I share this with readers and they'll laugh and I'll say gosh, I'll say OK, this is it, they're going to reject this, my career is over because there's just that certain amount of fear and nervousness that you never, ever overcome. But I say, you know, that it's possible for anyone. If you have a story and if that is your passion, if that's your purpose in this life, it's really a matter of sitting down and believing in yourself and just really moving forward with it. >> [Edna Kane Williams] That's such good advice. Is there—to the fifty-plus writer, are there specific things that they can do that you did in terms of seeking out a publisher or finding story lines or do you go to a class? What kind of advice would you give someone who's trying to re-imagine themselves as a novelist? >> [Kimberla Lawson Roby] Well, I think it is, you know, the craft of writing, learning that is great. When it comes to the story telling, I think that really is inborn. It has to come straight from the heart, and so I believe that. Learning the technique, the craft, that's always an excellent thing. And then figuring out where your own unique voice and style is when it comes to your writing and sticking to that and definitely learning about the business of publishing. You know, it's one thing to sit down and write a book which is great. That's the enjoyable part of it. Sometimes I think and I feel like on certain days that 80% of what I do is the business aspect. It is the marketing, and it is spending time on social media interacting personally with my readers and, you know, hearing them as the questions and trying to answer them. And sometimes my big encouragement comes from them when they're saying "When is the next book coming out" or "I read your book and this is what I learned from it." >> [Edna Kane Williams] I think we're at a crossroads with books and reading these days. Social media is great; all the new devices are great. But you really want to keep people engaged with the story, right, and not losing the art of storytelling. >> [Kimberla Lawson Roby] And that's the thing that you want and you hope and pray every single time that readers will feel like it is a page turner because if they don't feel like that, they're going to put it down. But really trying to tell stories that they can relate to. >> [Edna Kane Williams] Well, I'm in a couple of book clubs which I also hope not just this one socially, but they're great when women/men actually come together. >> [Kimberla Lawson Roby] Yes. >> [Edna Kane Williams] You're a favorite of them. >> [Kimberla Lawson Roby] Oh, that's wonderful. >> [Edna Kane Williams] So keep writing. >> [Kimberla Lawson Roby] Thank you very much. >> [Edna Kane Williams] Now, at this point in our interview, I'm going to surprise you a little bit. We'd just like to shoot a couple of questions off just to have some fun and have you answer off the top of your head. So, are you game? >> [Kimberla Lawson Roby] Yes, uh-oh. [laughing] >> [Edna Kane Williams] Great. It's fun. What would you be doing if you weren't writing books? >> [Kimberla Lawson Roby] Sitting at home watching Law and Order SVU all day long on a marathon day. >> [Edna Kane Williams] Really, really? Well, today's TV is perfect for you then. What's your favorite word? >> [Kimberla Lawson Roby] Faith. >> [Edna Kane Williams] What's your favorite— what's the theme song of your life? >> [Kimberla Lawson Roby] That's a hard one. That's a hard one. Grateful. >> [Edna Kane Williams] Grateful? What's your favorite vacation spot? >> [Kimberla Lawson Roby] Jamaica. >> [Edna Kane Williams] Other than your own books, do you have favorites that you read over and over again? >> [Kimberla Lawson Roby] Well, my all-time favorite book is Your Blues Ain't Like Mine by Bebe Campbell. All these years, that's not changed. >> [Edna Kane Williams] Really? I love her too. First line of your obituary? >> [Kimberla Lawson Roby] She loved and honored and trusted God. >> [Edna Kane Williams] That's wonderful. Message to AARP members? >> [Kimberla Lawson Roby] Is to believe in yourself, believe in God, believe in whatever it is you're trying to accomplish. >> [Edna Kane Williams] That's great. Thank you so much. >> [Kimberla Lawson Roby] Thank you for having. >> [Edna Kane Williams] I enjoyed talking with you. As always, we're interested in what you think about The Prodigal Son as well. Write down your comments below, and then join us on Facebook for further discussion. Be sure to watch next time when we'll be discussing the book Freeman with Leonard Pitts, Jr., the author. And if you haven't them yet, check out my interviews with Russell Simmons and Pearl Clay. Until next time, thanks so much for joining us. [AARP community Book Club Presents]

Video Details

Duration: 9 minutes and 48 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
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Views: 124
Posted by: aarp on Oct 2, 2014

NY Times Bestselling author Kimberla Lawson Roby visits AARP Studios to discuss her latest book, "The Prodigal Son" for the October 2014 of the AARP Black Community Book Club.

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