FAQ about Jewel


  • Why Have You Written Children’s Picture Books?

I have a super soft spot for picture books. It was through them that I learned English. Here’s a shocker: I couldn’t for the life of me construct ONE proper English sentence as a kindergartner. Yes, me! In turn, I became an E.S.L. student by day, and a picture book hoarder by night. I literally stared at book illustrations until my eyeballs hurt. I was so determined to figure out what was going on in the story text. It also helped that Mom read stories to me every day. So, in a sense, I’m indebted to not just her, but picture books BIG TIME. I not only mastered English through them; but, today, make my bread and butter as an English medium writer. Hats off to picture books!!

  • Where Do You Do Most of Your Writing?

I used to be a stereotypical writer. You’d find me in local coffee shops for several hours per week. Not anymore. I’m lucky enough to write full-time now. This means hanging around in Starbucks night and day isn’t realistic. They’d probably kick me out!  At present, you’ll catch me working at home. More specifically, on my haphazard bed! Confession: It’s currently cluttered with papers, books, oh-so-chic makeup and a wee little space for me to catch some zzz’s.

P.s.  I don’t have any hocus-pocus writing rituals. Surprised? 😉

  • Is There A Specific Quote That Motivates You to Write?

Why, yes, there is…It goes like this: “If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” -Toni Morrison

  • Who Do You Look Up To?

I’m inspired by five people in particular. In no particular order they are: Joanne E. Smith, Barbara Park, and Queen Latifah.

  • Do You Have Any Secret Wishes?

I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight. Okay, those are Disney inspired words, but I do have three unfulfilled wishes. Here they are:

I’d love for someone—ANYONE—to create a doll based on “Cinderella’s Magical Wheelchair.” I’ve made a prototype for the doll. Yet, I have no idea how to get it in front of the right toy makers! “Cinderella’s Magical Wheelchair” has brought so much happiness to kids and adults alike. I can only imagine what a Princess doll–with a disability to boot–can do!

Secondly, there are so few movies–if any!–specifically, for kids with disabilities. I would totally, sincerely LOVE to see one of my books adapted for film or television. I especially think “Cinderella’s Magical Wheelchair” and “The Princess Panda Tea Party: A Cerebral Palsy Fairy Tale” would make great animated films. As for television, I think “Miss Popular Steals the Show: Girls in Wheelchairs Rule!” would make an awesome show for kids of all abilities.

Last, but not least, I hope to pick up more modeling work. I think there should be more fashion models with disabilities in print, on TV and billboards. Hey! Why can’t that include me? After all, this is my secret wish list! lol.

  • How Did You Start Writing Children’s Books?

In 2007, I became separated from my husband of 10 years. We’re divorced now. I made the decision to start living with my family again. My mom was adamant that I become an independent woman in every shape and form. She asked me what I really wanted to do, and I told her that I wanted to write books for children. She supported me without hesitation. She went onto say that I should educate myself in this field. (My father is big on higher learning, too.) Mom encouraged me to find courses, and even went onto pay for them! I also had the good fortune in that I located not just “good” courses, but FANTASTIC workshops offered through George Brown College. I don’t regret enrolling in them for one moment. Three of my books were created in their workshops. My little sister, Roopali, was the FIRST human being to see and critique those stories. And, boy, can she be tough!

  • Where Do You Live Now?

I live in a high-rise building in the Greater Toronto area. I tied the “big knot” on May 5th, 2012, with, Alan. He’s my real-life Prince! We live in a very fun-filled “joint family” home. This basically means that people from the same kin, but different generations live together. Good times, people. Good times!

  • Describe your desk/workspace.

The cover of our graphic novel, “DitzAbled Princess: A Comical Diary Inspired by Real Life”, illustrates my workspace to a T. I can no longer sit at a desk due to my disabilities so I work atop a haphazard bed. People are shocked at how quickly I can locate things under the rubble of papers, books and makeup!

  • What was your favorite book as a child and why?

I’ve read just about every version of “Cinderella” available on the market. She never fails to overcome adversity. However, I could never fully relate to all the “Cinderella” stories I read. (As you may know, I was in a car accident at age nine. I now deal with arthritis, osteopenia, bowel issues, and chronic pain.) Hence, I decided to pen my own version: “Cinderella’s Magical Wheelchair.” It’s only fitting I did so, correct? (Insert: Wink).

  • What aspect of writing appeals to you most?

Here’s a confession: I’m addicted to illustrations! Nothing gives me greater pleasure than seeing my doodled thoughts come to life through the work of a brilliant artist. I swear; I’m hooked! I’m totally hooked on the union between art and words.

  • Do you think it is more difficult to write books for kids vs. women?

“DitzAbled Princess” is a tricky piece to write. People have certain expectations when it comes to women’s comic strips. They crave a whole story in a few visual panels, and a punch line as a cherry topper. “DitzAbled Princess” does this every time, but it also delivers messages about the disability experience. On the other hand, my children’s books differ in that they can be educational or some can even act as a bedtime story. Depending on which picture book you grab, you’ll encounter a different theme. However, I pen comics quicker when it comes to the actual writing process.

  • Describe a typical writing day…

No two writing days are the same! I’m usually juggling a lot of things at once. However, I more or less log the same amount of hours per week. On weekdays, I start working around two p.m. and end around eight p.m. Though, sometimes, I am known to work throughout the night if I’m hit by a super-hot idea. My productivity peak is during the afternoon. I tend to answer public relations interviews over the weekend.

P.s. Writing is a top priority in my life, and I put in 150% of my effort to succeed. To do this, I sometimes have to sacrifice doing things for pure enjoyment. I don’t know why, but I feel guilty when I relax. I’m happiest when my mind is busy. The only exception is my time at the nail salon! Even then, you’ll catch me on my Blackberry answering emails!

  • Do you regard yourself differently now that you’re published?

With ten books under my designer belt, people in general take me more seriously about pursuing a career in the arts. However, I don’t let the opinions of others affect me. I never have done so. I was a writer BEFORE I became published, and will be a writer AFTER my books stop being printed at the press. Writing is my trade, and being a writer is part of my identity.

  • What would you tell aspiring authors?

Follow your dreams! Turn your “dreams” into reality by working on them every single day. Nothing happens overnight. With diligence and hard work, the world’s readership lies at the tip of your pencil. Moreover, try your hardest to not be erased by your own negativity. Positive energy is contagious.

  • If you could have coffee with anyone (living or dead, real or fictional), who would it be and why?

I wouldn’t just want a “coffee” date, but rather a whole ritzy lunch date with, Veronica Lodge, from Archie Comics. She’s my all-time favorite character. I love her sassy style, and attitude. She’s definitely not a pushover! Veronica knows what she wants, and knows how to get it every time. I just love her!

  • If you could have a star like on Hollywood Blvd, who would you want to have your star by? This can be an actual star on Hollywood Blvd. or someone you just admire.

My dream is be in the Canadian Disability Hall of Fame. My biggest hero is: Joanne E. Smith.

  • What would be the best way for readers to contact you?

Please add me as friend on Facebook to keep up with my latest happenings. Search for “Jewel Kats” in Toronto, Canada. Or, look up my Facebook URL. Here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/jewel.kats
Alternatively, you can email me at: jewelkats78@gmail.com

  • Do you plot before you write? What do you struggle with?

I’m definitely a plotter. I know exactly what’s going to happen in a story from beginning to end before I sit down to write it. Every swirl and twirl is pre-planned. This goes for our comic strip “DitzAbled Princess” as well. I know the punch line before I sit down to write the script. So, in a sense, plotting isn’t an issue. However, I do struggle when it comes to writing a description for a book cover jacket. For example, in my book, “The Princess and the Ruby: An Autism Fairy Tale” it took fifty thousand tries before something came out sounding right. Talk about a struggle!

  • How would you describe your working relationship with your editor?

Victor R. Volkman plays two roles in my life. He’s both my book publisher, and editor. He’s honestly a wonderful person. He pushes me when I need to be pushed. He encourages me when I need to be encouraged. He cheers me on when the situation warrants it. We’re both very open with each other. We understand that we play for the same team, and passive-aggressive behavior just isn’t acceptable for either of us. We respect each other. Always.

  • Obituary. What do you hope to see written in yours?

I hope to leave my literary footprints on this planet as a disabilities advocate. During my lifetime, I’ve dedicated a lot of time towards disability awareness through the power of my pen. I hope to be acknowledged for my contribution in helping to create an inclusive society. Someone please notice! (Insert: Laughter).

  • Do you write first drafts on a computer or by hand?

“DitzAbled Princess” is written on anything I can find. Usually, candy wrappers! Though, napkins from McDonald’s make a great substitute for paper, too. (Insert: Laughter).

As for fictional books, they first start off in an art sketch pad where I literally connect idea bubbles by asking a series of “what if?” questions.

  • Describe your creative process…

The opening line of a fictional book usually acts a “eureka” moment when a whole story suddenly comes flooding in. I always get the opening line before anything else. For the most part, the opening line of a book comes through in the voice of a character.

  • Do you prefer to write in first or third person?

Writing in first person comes more naturally and easily. I have to work much harder to get a third person story right.

2 Comments

2 thoughts on “FAQ about Jewel

  1. Announcement 2016 Special Needs Book Awards
    Enter the 2016 Special Needs Book Awards for authors who have written books with a special needs focus. Indie and traditional authors are welcome and there are opportunities to submit both fiction and nonfiction special needs books. The deadline is June 13, 2016 and information is available at http://specialneedsbookawards.com

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