“History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage need not be lived again.” Maya Angelou, poet, actress, activist
Kim Robinson has a remarkable story to tell in her book Roux in the Gumbo. She digs into the rich, dark Louisiana soil to discover the strong roots of her family, roots that eventually spread to Los Angeles, California. Roux in the Gumbo begins with story of her ancestors in 1800 and follows their struggles and triumphs into the new millennium. Read her interview below and later click on her photo to visit her website:
Lynn: Welcome, Kim. Tell visitors what you would like them to know about you.
Kim: I am a wife, mother, seamstress and author. I speak at a lot of churches sharing my testimony of being a madam, call girl, drug dealer and addict with people who don’t think that they can change their lives as I have done. I spend a lot of time speaking at schools encouraging children to write. I think education is paramount to a child’s future. I also think that everyone should talk to their ancestors to find out about their past. If you don’t know where you came from you don’t know where you are going.
Lynn: You were candid in talking about your family in Roux in the Gumbo. You showed the good and the bad side of the characters. Apart from just wanting to tell the truth why do you think this was important to do?
Kim: I wrote the story the way it was told to me. My Grandmother had a way of seeing the good and the bad in everyone – loving them anyway. I guess I got some of that from her and I wanted to portray the true person, even the worst deviant in the world has something good in them somewhere.
Lynn: What did you learn about yourself writing the story of your family?
Kim: Abuse, for some reason it seemed that the women in my family have been molested and battered for centuries. I pray that I have found the tools to stop the cycle with my daughter.
Lynn: How might others benefit from writing their family history and sticking to the truth even if it’s painful, even shameful?
Kim: They say that we repeat the sins of our fathers. I think that when you are aware of those sins you can consciously avoid them. Also I think that if people knew what the generations before them endured to allow them to be able to walk around freely, get an education they will have a new respect, not only for them but for themselves.
Lynn: How did your family react (to the book)?
Kim: I started writing Roux in the Gumbo when I was pregnant with my second son and was confined to bed for the last trimester. She (grandmother) came to Texas to help me. We were watching Oprah and she was talking about her upcoming book. My grandmother said, “I had more stuff happen to me than she did, someone should write my story.” I had my husband set up a computer next to the pull out couch that I spend my days on. We started writing down those stories that I had heard all my life, and a lot of them I knew nothing about. I sent her tickets every few months and we worked on the books. My grandmother hada stroke during spinal cancer surgery and went into a coma. I took my children and went to California. Every day I would sit next to her bed and read to her from the book. All my family members would sit and list to me read and give me their input. One day I was reading to her and though she was still in a coma she said my name. The next day she died.
Lynn: Were any family members upset and felt you told toon much family business?
Kim: No. They are all very proud of the book. As a matter of fact they are my best sales(people). My family encouraged me to finish the book and get it published not only for the family but for the world. When I went back home they sent me tapes of their stories. I wrote about what they shared with me so that way I did not step on any toes.
Lynn: If you had to sum it up in only a few sentences, what would you like people to take away from Roux in the Gumbo?
Kim: Pride and the desire to find out about their own families
Thanks to Kim for taking a pause in her busy life to share with Be Encouraged.
P.S from Kim “I am planning a literary event in September at the Dallas Convention Center and hop you will all join me. If we are lucky we can get Lynn Emery to participate. Thank you so much for letting me be a guest on your blog.”
Please post any comments or questions you have for Kim. She’s going to drop in and respond!