Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Jumata Emill Interview - The Black Queen

Photo Content from Jumata Emill

Jumata Emill is a journalist who has covered crime and local politics in Mississippi and parts of Louisiana. He earned his B.A. in mass communications from Southern University and A&M College. He’s a Pitch Wars alum and member of the Crime Writers of Color. When he’s not writing about murderous teens, he’s watching and obsessively tweeting about every franchise of the Real Housewives. Jumata lives in Baton Rouge, La.


When/how did you realize you had a creative dream or calling to fulfill? 
In the fourth grade. I wrote a skit as a class assignment that my teacher loved so much, she let my cast my friends in it and allowed us to act it out before the class. My classmates loved it too and I was seduced by the sense of accomplishment and pride it gave me to have others entertained by something I made up. That’s when I realized I loved storytelling and how it made me feel to entertain others.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published. 
Holding the actual hard copy of my book. The day I walk in a bookstore and see it on the shelves will be very special too. I’ve dreamed of that moment since I was kid.

If you could have written one book in history, what book would that be? 
Roots by Alex Haley. I love family sagas and the fact that Mr. Haley’s story was also an autobiographical look into not only his family’s history but one of this country’s greatest sins affected said family is the type of impact I think all authors want their stories to have.

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book? 
Bravo, specifically all the franchises of the Real Housewives. The housewives are the guilty pleasure I don’t feel all that guilty about loving.

Can you tell us when you started THE BLACK QUEEN, how that came about? 
I began writing it at the beginning of 2020, after I had a conversation with my co-worker who casually mentioned that her high school’s tradition was to elect a white girl as homecoming queen one year, and then the next a black girl, and so on and so forth, rotating back and forth from year to year. It seemed like such a contrived, Southern way of putting a band aid on the modern-day segregation that still goes on in many schools throughout the country, and a great way of showcasing that would be with a murder that upended that tradition.

  • 1. Tinsley is named after Real Housewives of New York City housewife Tinsley Mortimer
  • 2. The town of Lovett, Mississippi is loosely based on the city of Biloxi, Mississippi
  • 3. My high school was segregated along the same lines as Lovett High’s, with white kids mostly in AP/Gifted classes and black kids in the “regular curriculum.”
  • 4. If I mention a song in a scene, I was listening to it when I wrote it. Helped me set the mood and mindset the characters would be in.
  • 5. It saddened me to kill off Nova. I tried to keep her alive on the page for as long as possible.
  • 6. Duchess’ style and persona are based on Teyana Taylor. I LOVE her swagger.
  • 7. In a town I worked as a crime reporter, the police station was also located in a renovated old hospital.
  • 8. The displacement backstory that led to the black kids coming to Lovett High is based on several real-world instances where that has happened in school districts I covered as a reporter.
  • 9. It took me three days to write the “killer revealed” scene. I kept picturing it differently in my mind, and then ended up taking elements from the three different scenes I wrote to write the one that eventually ended up in the book.
  • 10. The original final scene actually took place somewhere else, involved more characters and more clearly set up a potential romance.
What is the first job you have had? 
Waiting tables at a 50s-themed diner.

What is the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning? 
I don’t want to get out of this bed!

Which would you choose, true love with a guarantee of a heart break or have never loved before? 
The heartbreak. To have never loved is such a lonely existence.

When you looked in the mirror first thing this morning, what was the first thing you thought? 
I don’t feel like shaving, so I’m not going to.

What do you usually think about right before falling asleep? 
How I could have rewritten something I wrote that day.

If you had to go back in time and change one thing, if you HAD to, even if you had “no regrets” what would it be? 
Not pursuing my childhood talents with gymnastics. I could have maybe competed in the Olympics!

What was your favorite subject when you were in school? 
English. Hands down.

Most horrifying dream you have ever had? 
That I was buried alive, and I didn’t know why or how that happened.

What event in your life would make a good movie? 
My prom night. It would start out as a comedy and end a steamy, scandalous melodrama.

What is the weirdest thing you have seen in someone else’s home? 
I can’t say, because the person would know. The only tease I’ll give is that after seeing it, I never ate there again.

Nova Albright was going to be the first Black homecoming queen at Lovett High—but now she's dead. Murdered on coronation night. Fans of One of Us Is Lying and The Other Black Girl will love this unputdownable thriller.

Nova Albright, the first Black homecoming queen at Lovett High, is dead. Murdered the night of her coronation, her body found the next morning in the old slave cemetery she spent her weekends rehabilitating.

Tinsley McArthur was supposed to be queen. Not only is she beautiful, wealthy, and white, it’s her legacy—her grandmother, her mother, and even her sister wore the crown before her. Everyone in Lovett knows Tinsley would do anything to carry on the McArthur tradition.

No one is more certain of that than Duchess Simmons, Nova’s best friend. Duchess’s father is the first Black police captain in Lovett. For Duchess, Nova’s crown was more than just a win for Nova. It was a win for all the Black kids. Now her best friend is dead, and her father won’t fact the fact that the main suspect is right in front of him. Duchess is convinced that Tinsley killed Nova—and that Tinsley is privileged enough to think she can get away with it. But Duchess’s father seems to be doing what he always does: fall behind the blue line. Which means that the white girl is going to walk.

Duchess is determined to prove Tinsley’s guilt. And to do that, she’ll have to get close to her.

But Tinsley has an agenda, too.

Everyone loved Nova. And sometimes, love is exactly what gets you killed.

You can purchase The Black Queen at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you JUMATA EMILL for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of The Black Queen by Jumata Emill.

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