C. Kelly Robinson

C. Kelly Robinson

Interviewed by: Lauretta Pierce
May 13, 2005

Q.   How did you come about the idea to write a novel about a political man who was an athlete who had problems stuttering?

A.   I created Deacon using one central problem from my own life - I've stuttered since the age of twelve or so - and then adding some more dramatic elements to his life that heightened the importance of his stuttering. For instance, I made him a former NFL star and son of a civil rights leader so that he'd be a person who lives his life in a spotlight. That's why he's always felt the pressure to hide his stutter and "pose" as a normal speaker.

Q.    How long did it take you to write this novel?

A.  A little over a year in total of actual writing, but a lot of the ideas about presenting the struggles of stuttering kicked around in my head for the past decade.

Q.    How did you come about the idea of Marie's situation surrounding her son?

A.  I knew that I wanted to hook Deacon up with a woman who had a secret struggle of her own, and with Maria, I figured one of the possible darkest secrets a woman could have is a child that she was unable or unwilling to raise. While Maria has always convinced herself she did the best thing for her son by letting her brother and his wife raise him, she's now at a point in life where she wants to come clean and reveal her true identity to him. Her motivations are pure, but she's painted herself into a corner in that her brother long ago made her agree to pose as her son's aunt and never threaten his legal rights to her son.

Q.    How did you come about Mercedes' character?

A.  Mercedes was an important part of the story, both as a key to Deacon's past and because she's a central part of events that led to his father's death. Some readers may feel that she's the story's villain versus Maria being the heroine, but I don't think Mercedes is evil at all. She's a determined, ambitious sister doing what's necessary to protect her fortune and her dauuther's well-being.

Q.    Of all the characters in this novel, which was your favorite to write about?

A.  It was really a tie between Deacon and Maria. I'm partial to Deacon because I could pour some of my emotional experiences as a stutterer into him, but I really took to Maria as her story progressed. I think she's a very realistic but admirable role model for women who've taken a few wrong turns early in life but are trying to get back on the right road.

Q.    Are there any of your personality traits in Deacon?

A.  A few. I've been told that on the wrong day, I have a bit of a temper with folk who push me too far, but Deacon makes me look like a puppy dog when he's crossed. Overall, though, he's his own creation; we don't have too much in common.

Q.    How did you come about Guy's character?

A.  Guy embodies the forces that would make Maria feel she can't overcome her past. He tests her will as she's attempting to build the life she always knew she could have.

Q.   How did you come about the idea concerning Tisha?

A.  At first, I didn't know how I would explain the mystery behind Deacon's father's death. Tisha came into being as an explanation, and she's really a symbol of the weaknesses and human frailties that afflict even our best leaders and activists.

Q.   Will there be a sequel to "The Strong Silent Type?"

A.  I don't have one in mind at present, but I'm pretty sure Deacon or a couple of other characters will resurface in future books of mine.

Q.    What message would you like readers to receive from reading "The Strong Silent Type"

A.  Hopefully they'll be motivated to face up to hidden secrets and problems in their life that they haven't confronted. None of us are alone in our struggles, and there's always someone out there who can relate and help us overcome.