The book has been described as "powerful" and "inspirational." Da Costa has now released a collection of emojis called “Beautymojis" based on the book, which are available through the Apple App Store. ByBlacks.com had a chance to catch up with da Costa to find out more about her book and Beautymojis.
What made you decide to become an author and publish your own books?
My passion is reading and that ignited the writing but it stemmed from reading. And why I decided to publish my own books is kind of the same thing, my love for writing.
How does writing empower you?
The thing about writing is that when you write the sky's the limit. You can write about everything and anything. It’s your words and sometimes they come from the heart, sometimes you're just making sentences but you write anything and say what you want to say and that's where the empowerment comes from.
What has been the most rewarding part about having your work published?
Getting reviews and feedback from people who have bought and read my books. That’s always the most rewarding part. If you can become famous and make money that's great too but when someone gives you a really good review it can say a lot about you.
Which comments have really resonated with you?
People have sent me pictures of their children reading the book. One parent told me their child liked the book so much they read it almost every day before bed. That's one of the things I'll always remember.
Of all the books you've written, which would you say is your favourite or are most proud of?
Oh no! I could never pick a favourite, that's too hard. I enjoy writing and I love what I do so whenever I get positive feedback that just inspires me to write more books. It's always really good to get good feedback because sometimes you doubt yourself, but when you hear that someone enjoys your book it let's you know you're doing something right. Even before I started writing books I was a freelance magazine writer and sometimes I would think to myself "who would even want to read my article?" Sometimes you don't see yourself in that way or you don't think you're good enough.
You've written 8 books and a majority of them have been for children, why is children's literature so important to you?
I've always had a good connection with children and I know this based on my relationship with my nieces and nephews and even when I go places kids seem to gravitate towards me. I remember growing up as a kid I spent a lot of time in the library reading books and a few authors books really stood out to me, the way they would play with words and make learning fun to make you really interested in reading, that really did something to me. I thought if they can do it why can't I? I would love to make a book that kids can laugh at and enjoy, so that's where that came from.
The Beautymojis are based on your book, "I am Beautiful: When I Look at Me, I See..." What can you tell us about the book?
I used to volunteer with young girls and they often struggled with their self-esteem and confidence because of their looks, or their hair. I also got it from looking at the world, at black girls and at black in general because I can only speak from that standpoint. There's a lot of issues going on with young girls so that was an influence to write the book, to encourage them, inspire them and empower them. To let them know it's okay not to look like this or have "this" type of hair based on what somebody else has. That's where that came from and that's also the message of the book; it's okay to be yourself and love yourself the way you are. Somebody has to give little black girls a voice to say the things they need to say but might be afraid to on their own.
Growing up did you ever struggle personally to understand beauty, to accept who you are the way you are?
I never really struggled with it but I would get comments from people about my hair or about my big lips. Not so much from people from my own race but other races who would point out or make fun of me.
Can you tell us about the process of creating the beautymojis?
The "I am Beautiful" emoji images were all taken from my best-selling children's book "I am Beautiful: When I Look at Me, I See..." The idea to create emojis was based on the wonderful reception the book received and I know that emojis have become quite popular and instantly became a great vehicle for communication. Therefore, I decided to design my own emojis.
After much thought about what I wanted my emojis to look like, I hired two top notch graphic designers who completely understood my ideas for the emojis and they helped me to execute my vision.
The challenge for me and I think for most people who have a vision is finding the right person to help them bring that thought/idea/vision to fruition. In my case, I wanted to find the right distributor to help me launch my emojis. And, after doing extensive research, I found MojiLaLa and they helped me get them in to the Apple App Store. We launched on October 18 2016.
How would you define beautiful?
Beauty, as they always say, is really in the eye of the beholder. There's beauty in so many things it can be hard to give it a description. Beauty can just be someone whois happy with themselves. There's so many definitions and ways you can look at beauty. My definition of beauty is just being who you are.
What's something you think people need to understand about beauty?
There's no clear cut or ideal version of beauty despite what Western media pushes. I think that's one of the problems young girls have because they have these images of what beauty is supposed to look like with the long, blonde hair and blue eyes and they get confused. They think that's what beauty is and that's what they're supposed to look like so they can be confused about who they really are and what's expected of them
With "I am Beautiful" and the other books you've written, what do you hope parents and their children will take away?
I would hope that they get a better understanding of where they came from and who they are. I would hope that they're able to look at life in a different way because they're comfortable with who they are, knowing that it's okay to not look or be a certain way.
You can find "I am Beautiful: When I Look at Me, I See..." as well as Da Costa's other books on her website. Simone's blog also offers marketing, advertising and promoting for book, eBook authors, publishers, self-publishers and anyone interested in writing.