A bad weather forecast doesn’t stop devoted fans, clad in winter wear, from braving the elements to see their favorite author. They begin arriving at Borders in Largo an hour early to secure their spot. One-by-one chairs are filled and organizers add seating to accommodate those standing and sitting Indian-style in anticipation of New York Times bestselling author, Kimberla Lawson Roby.
The crowd grows and readers buzz about Roby’s books. Which ones they’ve read, the ones they plan to read, their favorites. Dee Walker of Virginia is brimming with excitement. I ask how she likes the author’s latest title, “Love, Honor, and Betray.” She beams, “I loved it! It spoke to issues in the Christian community.” Walker says she enjoys books that keep her guessing. Ones that make her ask, “What? Are you serious? Those are the types of books I love.”
The flock of readers range in age. Thirty-something Prince George’s County teacher, Lisa Brown, and her mother, Wilhelmina Farmer, 72, have their own discussion about Roby’s novels. I ask Brown which one is her favorite. She quickly says, “Sin No More or, Love and Lies. I don’t know how you pick.” She shows no hesitation, however, when naming her favorite character: “Of course the Reverend Curtis Black!” But both mother and daughter are very clear about the messages they take away from the author’s books. Farmer warns, “We don’t learn from our mistakes. We don’t learn from the past.” Her daughter chimes in, “When you spin a web of deceit it always comes back to haunt you.”
Organizers have now run out of chairs and the crowd is spilling between book displays. And right on time, as if out of no where, Kimberla Lawson Roby strides into the room. Tall, slim, and cozy in all black. The crowd breaks into applause before she is even introduced. Roby takes the mic and exudes a natural charm. She talks to readers about her early career as a financial analyst and how she wanted to try her hand at writing. She faced early rejection from agents and editors and eventually self-published through her own company, Lenox Press. The writer finally struck gold when her strong book sales snagged the attention of her dream agent.
Roby takes questions from the audience and many attendees admit that they had never been avid readers until they found her novels. A lengthy book signing follows, the line inching along as the author generously signs every book readers bring. Some have five each. Roby remembers faces, gives hugs, and greets her guests as if they’d known each other for years.
Satisfied readers finally disperse, signed books in tow, unfazed that ice is now falling outside. And even though the weather is worsening, Kimberla Lawson Roby takes time to answer my questions. Read my exclusive one-on-one interview.