Meet Jewel Kats, the real life woman who inspired the new Archie comic book character, Harper. Jewel is responsible for instigating as well as inspiring the character. A long-time Archie fan herself, when she saw Dan Parent, the Archie writer/artist, at a comic book expo, she wheeled right up to him, looked him in the eye and said, “How come there’s no one in Riverdale with disabilties? How can that be?” As Parent talked with her, he realized she would make a great Archie character herself.
A bold and colorful personality and award winning writer of children’s books, Jewel is best known for her series called “Fairy Ability Tales,” where the main characters have disabilities. She now has nine books in print and several more being readied for publication. Just the book titles alone speak volumes (pun intended) both about Jewel and about her books:
- Cinderella’s Magical Wheelchair: An Empowering Fairy Tale
- DitzAbled Princess: A Comical Diary Inspired by Real Life
- Miss Popular Steals the Show: Girls in Wheelchairs Rule!
- Reena’s Bollywood Dream: A Story About Sexual Abuse
- Snow White’s Seven Patches: A Vitiligo Fairy Tale
- Teddy Bear Princess: A Story about Sharing and Caring
- The Princess and the Ruby: An Autism Fairy Tale
- The Princess Panda Tea Party: A Cerebral Palsy Fairy Tale
- What Do You Use To Help Your Body? Maggie Explores the World of Disabilities
When she was growing up, Cinderella was her very, very favorite story, so when she decided to become a writer, the first thing she did was re-write the classic. It’s important for children to see themselves reflected in media, Jewel feels. Her works not only provide role models for children with disabilities, they broaden all children’s perspectives to include a wider variety of human experience.
All her books pit the main character against an obstacle they must overcome, because, as Jewel says, that’s reality. It was certainly the case in her own life, where she was disabled in a car accident when she was nine and later sexually abused. When her first marriage ended in divorce, she had no means to support herself. That’s when she decided to be a writer, enrolled in courses and set her life on its current path.
Her books are available through Amazon.