Please tell our readers a little about yourself.
First and foremost, I am love manifested. I am a father of three beautiful children; two boys and one girl ages eleven, four and 2 months. A native of Miami, I am an artist that embraces all aspects of creativity. I am an author of a children’s book, I’m Naturally Beautiful, a poet and a chef. I believe art is everything, from the way we speak, what we wear, what we listen to and what we believe about the world and about ourselves. My mission is to use my art and my platform to inspire and encourage readers of all ages to believe in the power of their dreams.
Could you tell us a bit about your book and why it is a must-read?
I’m Naturally Beautiful is the first book in a series of children’s book spoken through the eyes of a little African goddess discovering she is perfectly made and doesn’t need anything to validate her. This book unapologetically asserts that black is beautiful and it encourages girls of color to be comfortable in their own skin. In today’s media obsessed environment where we are constantly bombarded with images of beauty that do not reflect us, I’m Naturally Beautiful is a must-read book that directly combats the false narrative about what it means to be beautiful and unique. This book is an important early message that we can embed in the DNA of our colored children to remind them of their value, to encourage them to have big dreams and to empower them to accomplish milestones beyond their highest imagination.
What inspired you to write your book?
My inspiration for I’m Naturally Beautiful is my Nubian princess Sanai Leah Simon. I wrote this book for her and for every little queen out there trying to find their place in this world. As a writer, I understand how important it is to see yourself in stories. I enjoy reading to my daughter but it seemed impossible to find stories that reflected her or our values. I knew what I wanted her to learn about herself and could not find that in the stories we read. I decided to write I’m Naturally Beautiful with words and illustrations that she could relate to. She is so excited to see little girls that look like her in a book and this is now her favorite book to read.
What was the most challenging aspect of writing your book?
The actual writing of I’m Naturally Beautiful was very organic. It was like writing a letter of love and appreciation to my daughter. The challenging work came after the book was written. Finding the right illustrator, the right publisher and navigating the process to producing the physical book was challenging but also very enlightening.
Do you have any unique or quirky writing habits?
I’m not sure if my writing habits are unique or quirky but it’s not formal or standard writing practice. I may write on the back of a napkin or in a journal or the computer. I don’t necessarily write one thing from start to finish. I may begin a poem and jump to a new one, only to revisit the first poem months later. I sort of write whatever catches my attention or what I’m thinking or feeling and somehow it all gets put together cohesively.
How did you come up with the title for your book?
The title of the book was very intuitive because the title is the overall message to my readers.
Is there a message you want your readers to take away from your book?
I want all my readers to understand that they are naturally, uniquely beautiful and specially made by the creator. They all possess gifts and talent and can achieve any dreams no matter how big or impossible they may seem.
Do you have any advice for the yet-to-be-published writers reading this?
My advice to any yet-to-be-published writers is do not give up on your dreams of getting published. If you have a story to tell, pursue all avenues until that story is told. There may be many people who will say no but keep on knocking on doors until someone says yes. If you have something to share with the world, it is your duty to make sure the message gets out, so keep at it until you succeed.
What's next for you? What are you working on now?
I am always writing. I currently have 2 books soon to be published, one aimed at young boys and one aimed at teenagers. I am also working on a book tour and excited to engage with my readers across the country.
What is your preferred method to have readers get in touch with or follow you (i.e., website, personal blog, Facebook page, etc.) and link(s)?
My young readers can interact with me through my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/goddessesofnaturalbeauty) For comprehensive information about me and my various art projects, please visit my website (www.jerodsimon.com).
I did not set out to write a book. The book found me and insisted I write it. This story was born out of necessity. I love reading to my daughter, and I'm constantly scouring bookstores to find great stories to read her. This book was inspired by my two-year-old Nubian princess.
About the author:
Black. King. Artist. Self identification in that order. Every moment and encounter is experienced through these prisms.
I was born a lion in the harsh and beautiful jungle of Miami, Florida. I am grateful to be blessed with the tenacity needed to navigate and survive this existence thus far. I am an artist who enjoys every aspect of creativity. Words are my first weapon of choice as it comes to me more naturally than any anything else in nature. I have loved and massaged words together before I understood the meaning of words. The reaction I received from people even at the young age of 5, made me realize words were my gift. I have nurtured it since then and continue to share it with the world. I also love being creative with food and I share my culinary passions through my food catering business.
I have, like most of you, been through some extremely joyful and extremely painful moments. Life has been my classroom, my experiences have been my greatest teachers and my writings have been my sacred outlet. I relentlessly seek knowledge and welcome every opportunity for growth and elevation of my higher being. My driving force for all my art is my desire to help people grow and flourish. I am OBSESSED with finding ways to inspire and teach our beautiful black Queens and Kings who they are, where they belong and their incredible capacity to positively impact this world.
My writings gives you access to my deepest thoughts and feelings. I hope they provide food for thought, comfort, empowerment, inspiration and anything you may need to embark upon your own journey of self truth.