If there’s one thing the world needs right now, it’s hope. In the turmoil and pain of the Black Lives Matter movement, many wonder if there is a brighter day on the horizon. For Chelley Roy, a Black author and entrepreneur from D.C., she is all too familiar with the need for hope. She shares her story of hopelessness and healing in her book The Making of a BOSS.
Chelley Roy offers an intimate look into her life and the life of her mother within the gripping pages of her new memoir. Roy’s mother, a beautiful, elegant woman, seemed to be the perfect parent. Strong, resilient, and always there for her children, she moved with sophistication and created a childhood full of incredible lessons and support for Roy. Which made her untimely death, her murder, even more devastating.
At only twenty years old, Chelley Roy found herself without the woman who had been there for her and guided her since the beginning. As a new mother, and a new wife, she faced a multitude of daily challenges that she needed her own mother for. But her mother was taken from her. This elegant, incredible lady, this wonderful mother, had also been an infamous crime boss in the D.C. area, which led to a demise that shattered Roy’s world. This was made even worse, when it became clear that the police handling the investigation were not making any progress. So, looking for closure, looking for justice, Roy took the investigation into her own hands. “The Making of a Boss” details the stories of two women, of a mother and daughter, who both held incredible might and power.
I had the honor of speaking with Chelley to discuss her story of grief, of mourning, and of moving on.
Why did you decide to write a memoir, as opposed to a different style of book like a biography or crime novel?
I decided on a memoir because that’s just what it is… my memories and accounts that are near and dear to me of how (and what) I remember about my mother.
What ethical, moral or other considerations did you need to make and how did you handle them while writing your memoir – like writing about living people, or how much information to share about someone, or who might not want the story told, etc.?
In writing the book, I definitely took into consideration my family/characters who are still living, to ensure their safety. I used pseudonyms to keep their identities safe. I had 100% participation from my family and they supported me in writing about them, as well as my mom, in the book.
How much of your mom’s story was already known to you before her passing, and how much of who she was did you learn during your investigation into her murder?
I knew 90-95% of my mom’s story before she passed away. I lived it; she shared and didn’t hide it from me. None of what was discovered during the investigation was a surprise to me.
In what ways did your perception of your mother change as you learned more about her life and death?
The more I learned about my mother’s life, I admired and loved her more than ever and there was nothing anyone could say or do to belittle her, or make me feel bad about what she did. That was my mom and I loved her, no matter what!
What was it like for you to do your own investigation into your mother’s murder?
The entire process was scary and terrifying, knowing that I was putting myself and my family in danger by perusing and being as aggressive with the case as I was.
What roadblocks did you run up against?
The only road blocks I ran up against were time and having patience. I wanted my mom’s case solved now, and not having that control over when things happened and how fast, bothered me.
Were the police cooperative?
The detectives were very cooperative and did their best to keep me abreast of new and evolving information, but I just felt like more could be done.
How did you handle set-backs?
Being as though most things were out of my control, I had to be patient and pray during times of setbacks, during times where I thought the case would be closed and it wasn’t. This entire murder investigation taught me patience. It wasn’t about if the case would be solved, but when. That was big for me: the when.
Were there times during the investigation that you considered stopping?
No, there was never a thought that crossed my mind to give up on seeking justice for my mom. I would’ve died trying to seek the justice she so desperately deserved.
What mental, emotional, or spiritual beliefs helped guide you forward and kept you going?
There were many rough days, but I prayed a lot and trusted and asked God to see me through this, and to give me the strength to get through it. I also held true to my promise to myself and my mom that I wouldn’t quit until her killers were brought to justice.
How has being the daughter of a crime boss impacted your own life, self-identity, and/or business?
Being the daughter of a crime boss molded and shaped me in the sense where I learned the street smarts, the street life, and the game in an effort to know how to navigate through life. It taught me not to be naïve or gullible. As for business, we will see as the book gets out there if there is a greater impact to future readers who purchase a copy of my book to learn more about my life.
Have your family and friends been supportive of your sharing your mother’s story? In what ways has it impacted your relationships?
My family/friends have been very supportive in the writing of my story. They have been cheering me on behind the scenes and are very happy for me that I am finally able to get clarity and closure.