Imasha Costa, who is a resident self-published author in Bahrain, is only 19 years old! Today, we’ve asked her to join us for a conversation about her book, Fragments and her symbiotic relationship with poetry. Fragments is her first poetry book and it revolves around the themes of love, heart break, happiness, life and death and every shade in between.
NQD: Thanks Imasha, for joining our fun community of Bahrain-based writers! We’re glad to have you onboard.
You’ve self-published a book called, Fragments and are actively sharing your poetry on Instagram. Have you always been into poetry? Talk to us about how it all started for you.
Imasha: Well, I found out that I liked writing poetry at the age of 16. I was intrigued by the fact that I could be as minimalistic as possible when it came to talking about my feelings. I eventually grew in my writing, if you were to look at the poetry that I wrote at 16, it's not the same style that I am writing in right now. But I still love it. Publishing Fragments was honestly my biggest achievement when it comes to my writing. I had initially started posting poems on my Instagram stories, then it became posts and now it's in a book as well. And it is something that I am really proud about. Ever since I was 12, I had dreamed about being a published author. And now I am, and that is something that no one could take away from me, you know!
NQD: What inspired you to publish a book on your own? What were your hopes when it came to sharing your words with the public?
Imasha: I always wanted the world to hear my story, whether it was through words or voice, I wanted to be heard. Initially it was hard for me to share my words, I remember at an open mic where I spoke my words out loud for the first time, I felt this burden that I was carrying around on my shoulders slowly being lifted and it was lifted. And after that, I wanted the world to hear more of my story, and so this book was that. My story, my words. publishing this book was not necessarily in the spur of the moment, but a build up of wanting to release a collection and just let the public see, read, listen.
NQD: Having decided, “Okay, I’m going to publish something I wrote,” how did you know where to go to make that happen?
Imasha: Honestly, when I decided that, I was kind of clueless as to what to do. I knew that traditional publishing was not going to work easily and I preferred the idea of self publishing, because like I could put my own work into designing the cover and figuring out what I liked and what I did not like. And I saw that Amazon has a company that helps you self-publish books and I was like, 'let me give that a shot.' And I guess that was how it worked out.
NQD: You’ve posted a poem about your experiences at Sonder Cafe. Why do you think it’s imperative for creatives to have such a place?
Imasha: I think having a space that is all about not being judged but being loved and embraced is something that is crucial to any creative. To know that even though you go out to the world, you discover it, you become someone else, there is always a place where you grew in your art, and that place for me is Sonder. Moving here, and not being around Sonder made me different. I love the place, I love the person that it had moulded me into, but it also made me feel safe, especially away from the real world sometimes. But, always going into my own bubble did not make me feel safe in this new world that I am living in. I may have not found my other Sonder, but I know that I’ll always be with them in spirit, even though it’s closing down, it allows us to start a new community, a new form of art. Like how I am doing.
NQD: How do you see yourself contributing to the world with your words?
Imasha: Where to begin with this question? I see the world not being afraid to tell their stories. What I want from the world is to unhinge that cover that closes them and to let out the stories that are haunting them, not only in the form of writing, but in different forms. I’m thankful that I found out that I love writing, that I love the creativeness inside my head that allowed me to express the feelings, the emotions that are revolving inside my mind. I hope that by me publishing my work I inspire the people to let out their stories, their thoughts, their feelings, their being through a form of art that they feel they could let out in.
NQD: You’ve had a book signing. How cool is that! Did it meet your expectations?
Imasha: I’d say it did. I had two book official book signings, one in Sonder and one with the Sri Lankan community. It was nice, it was good. I liked it.
NQD: What lessons can you share with our readers, including the aspiring writers, about your self-publishing journey?
Imasha: Self-publishing is one of the challenges that I faced through when I wanted to get my book out. It isn’t the easiest of processes, but it is worth it. I would suggest, always look out for typos, because you do not know what mistakes you’ll make, make sure you have a beta reader, someone who can go over your work and give you honest critical editorial opinions. It takes time, it’s not something that can be done on the spur of a moment. I found that marketing the book was a bit hard, but that’s grand, all will come in good time. But in the end, it’s worth it.
NQD: What has been the most surprising aspect of publishing a book thus far?
Imasha: The most surprising aspect? Telling people in my college that I am a published author and hearing them go ‘What?? No way!’ I guess it’s the reaction of it. It makes me laugh, because I think of it as not much of a big deal, but they think that it is and they make me agree with it. but it’s nothing compared to the amazing things that these people do. But it is something that makes me laugh.
NQD: We think the book cover for, Fragments is a thing of beauty! Can you tell us what matters most to you when coming up with a good book cover design?
Imasha: I think when it comes to designing a cover, it usually is about how you feel you want to get your readers to read the book. Like, the simple flower layout made me feel safe. It was my first collection and it reminded me of the innocence I used to have, but I do not anymore. The cover took me a bit to master, to find the perfect one. I had a bit of help from a couple of friends for designing ideas, but it all worked out in the end. What matters the most is I think if the cover gives out what I want to give out, if it gives out a peak of my story.
NQD: Any upcoming books in the near future that we can tell our followers about?
Imasha: I am actually handling my second manuscript; it is still in the works. But I’m trying to get it published before the summer, here in Ireland. I am actually very excited about it, this one is a little bit darker compared to the first one, but all stories must continue, and so I am continuing Fragments in a different collection, but I’ve grown and my poems that are in this collection reflect the growth that I have gone through. I am also publishing my poems in the university magazines and I got recently published in the Environmental Society of UCC’s journal called Uprooted along with other magnificent writers. You can find the link below!