Friday, May 17, 2013

Interview Friday with Award-winning Author Jewel Kats

Once a teen runaway, Jewel Kats is now a self-made Diva. She’s authored seven books! Think: ­Loving ­Healing Press (USA.) Think: Marvelous Spirit Press (USA.) Think: Kube Publishing (UK.) For six years, she penned a syndicated teen advice column for Scripps Howard News Service (USA) and TorStar Syndication Service (Canada). She’s won $20,000 in scholarships from Global Television Network and women’s book publisher, Harlequin Enterprises. Jewel also interned in the TV studio of ­Entertainment Tonight Canada. Her books have been featured in Ability Magazine twice. She recently made a guest appearance on Accessibility in Action. Jewel appeared in a documentary series by the Oprah Winfrey Network (Canada) in September of 2012.



VS: What do you do to help balance your writing life with your family life?

Jewel: I have yet to master the art of creating a perfect balancing act. My family—thankfully!--is very understanding when it comes to my passion for writing. Though, sometimes I secretly feel guilty about neglecting them to surge ahead with work goals. (Hey, I’m not perfect. I’m just being totally honest!)

VS: What inspired you to write your book?

Jewel: The idea for “DitzAbled Princess” came from my husband, Alan. Convo recap:

“You’re always reading ‘Betty and Veronica Double Digests.’ You’re such a funny character in real life. Why don’t you try writing a comic strip?”

And, so I did. Not only did I take the bait, I bit into it HARD.

Little did, Alan, know that I’d write about the here and now! I chose to do this because there wasn’t a comic strip character that I could fully relate to as a woman with disabilities. I decided to make “DitzAbled Princess” a reality-series because I live in a circus-like environment. My gut told me that I’d never run out of material. So far, my instincts haven’t failed me! J   

VS: Is your family supportive of your writing?

Jewel: My family is extremely supportive. It’s really been a team effort to get me to stand at this point in my career. After I separated from my first husband, I returned home brokenhearted. My mom asked what I wanted to do with my life. I immediately said I wanted to write children’s books. She didn’t laugh or scoff. Rather, Mom told me to find writing classes, and proceeded to pay for them! My youngest sister (“Baby Sis”) acted as my first go-to editor for a good number of years. Last year, I re-married. I can’t even begin to tell you how supportive my knight in shining armor is. He wears all hats now. My career has especially taken off since I started dating, Alan. I often call him my “lucky charm.”

VS: If this isn’t your first publication, what was the first thing you ever had published?

Jewel: I’ve penned seven award-winning books thus far for Loving Healing Press. (Many more to come!) “Reena’s Bollywood Dream” is the first book this great American press ever bought from me. It’s a fictional children’s picture book about sexual abuse. However, the first book I ever wrote--it took five years to pen!—was “Cinderella’s Magical Wheelchair.” Recently, this picture book was bestowed a silver medal from the prestigious Mom’s Choice Awards.

VS: Can you share with us a little about your current book?

Jewel: “DitzAbled Princess: A Comical Diary Inspired by Real Life” is a print collection of the popular webcomic reality-series by the same name. “DitzAbled Princess”—the webcomic—is published through Tapastic.com.

Here’s a synopsis of “DitzAbled Princess”…

Jewel at 33 is a Princess in her own right.
She's a fun-loving, demanding Diva who loves to shop as much she loves to write. Jewel is the apple of everyone's eye--be it her doting family, her doctor for her never-ending bowel issues, her pushy book editor and especially her frugal husband's soft spot. So, what's Jewel’s weakness? Her pet dogs: Snowie and Dolly. Particularly, naughty Snowie who is known to pee wherever he fancies--including Dolly's face!

For Jewel, her physical disability doesn't dampen her spirits. Rather, it enhances them. She gets to use an unusual fashion accessory (Imagine: A hot pink elbow crutch.) She gets out of doing housework. She gets carried up-and-down stairs like a Princess a la command. Jewel may be horribly messy, terrible with numbers and a workaholic, but nobody can imagine life without her. Not that she would let them, anyway! She has a big mouth, remember?

VS: What did you find to be the most challenging part of writing your book(s)?

Jewel: As a reality series comic strip, “DitzAbled Princess” captures real life experiences. The “cast” consists of my family members who remain unnamed. (They are addressed by their relationship to me in the comic strip.) My family doesn’t want everything about their lives published. Thus, I have to hold back from sharing every minute detail out of respect for their feelings. This can be challenging—especially when a good punch line is at stake!

VS: What part of your book do you feel really stands out to you personally?

Jewel: “DitzAbled Princess” is the first reality-series comic strip in history to highlight the glitzy lifestyle of a 30-something career woman with physical disabilities. Naturally, its offshoot, “DitzAbled Princess: A Comical Diary Inspired by Real Life”, is making waves with its graphic novel presence.

In short, “DitzAbled Princess” captures the disability experience, yet showcases the COMMON human experience. This is done through dallops of humor, eye-popping artwork, subtle messages, and sprinkled fashion mishaps.

“DitzAbled Princess” especially stands out from the crowd because it empowers women with disabilities. “DitzAbled Princess” illustrates that one can be beautiful, successful, and happily-in-love despite health issues. This is rarely seen in mainstream media.      

VS: Do you have any other works in progress? Can you share a little about them?

Jewel: My third book in my children’s award-winning Fairy Ability Tales series is in production. The book is due to come out in September 2013 by Loving Healing Press. “Snow White’s Seven Patches: A Vitiligo Fairy Tale” is being illustrated by, Dan Goodfellow.

On a twice-weekly basis, I pen the webcomic of “DitzAbled Princess” which runs at: http://tapastic.com/series/316. Carefully selected new webcomic strips will be published in volume two of the “DitzAbled Princess” print graphic novel collection by Marvelous Spirit Press.

I’m also in the midst of writing a graphic novel tentatively titled “Swiped” for tween girls, and a standalone picture book (“Jenny and her Dog Both Fight Cancer”).   

VS: What do you think are the basic ingredients of a good book?

Jewel: I think even the fluffiest of books should contain a hidden message. Readers give you their time. You should offer something in return. Not all characters have to be likeable, but they should be multi-dimensional. This helps them leap of the page, and into the heart. Moreover, a good story arc—even in a three-panel comic—is critical. Without this basic foundation, any ol’ story will flop. Remember, readers are very smart, and know what they want without even uttering one peep.

VS: Where can the readers of The Writing Mama find out more about and your writing?

Jewel: “DitzAbled Princess” runs as webcomic strip. New episodes are uploaded every Wednesday and Sunday. You can catch them at: http://tapastic.com/series/316

To learn more about my children’s books, please visit: www.jewelkats.com

VS: Is there anything else you would like to share with us about being a “Writing Mama or Dad”?

Jewel: “DitzAbled Princess” has a super cute line of character merchandise (i.e. coffee mugs, bags, flip-flops, etc.) For ordering info, please visit: www.ditzabledprincess.com


Follow Jewel Kats at
Twitter @DitzAbled

You can find out more about Jewel Kats, her books and World of Ink Author/Book Tour at http://tinyurl.com/cplfx6g

To learn more about the World of Ink Tours visit http://worldofinknetwork.com

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