Jackie Collins, First lady of racy fiction
Best-selling author Jackie Collins is “a happy woman”. She has returned to her Los Angeles home from the Bahamas, where she spent Christmas with friends.
“I love sitting on my balcony overlooking the beautiful ocane and writing,” she says. “I always take my work with me. And my characters, too.”
“On a writing day, I’ll work from nine to five without stopping. I write in longhand on legal pads and my assistant types them up. I never get bored because I’m always surrounded by my characters.”
So it is hardly surprising that Jackie is excited to help launch a UK-wide search on ITVI’s Lorraine for aspiring writers of erotic fiction, following the runaway success of El James’s Fifty Shades of Grey. The winner of the competition will be unveiled on Valentine’s Day, with a publishing contract with Mills & Boon and lunch with Jackie in LA as the prize.
I’m all for anything that promotes the books,” says Jackie from her sumptuous Beverly Hills mansion.
She seems a perfect host for the contest, having sold 500 million of her 29 raunchy page-turners worldwide. “Everybody likes a racy read,” she says. “I’m not a literary writer, but I am blessed with the gift of storytelling.”
Her passion for writing began during her schooldays in England. “I sold my stories to my friends. When I was expelled at 15, I was told I’d never be able to make a living as a writer because you had to get a degree. I started writing The World is Full of Married Men in my 20s and finished it in 1968 with my late husband Oscar (Lerman) urging me not to abandon it. It was an instand success.”
Her most popular character is Lucky Santangelo, heroine of sever of her books and now the inspiration for an Italian cookbook she is writing.
“There was nothing like Google then, ” says Jackie, “so I had to do all the research on the early part of the 20th century in encyclopaedias. But now, if I want a Somali swear work, for example, I just explore the internet.”
The need for such a word was sparked by her latest book, The Power Trip, which is due out in the UK in paperback in May. “A couple of years ago, I sailed from the South of France to Sardinia, five hours across clear water. I woke up one night and wondered what would have happened if we’d been captured by Somalian pirates.”
So what advice would Jackie give to aspiring authors? “Write what you know about, the story you feel you must write. If you write with one eye on commercial success rather than the real passion, it’s never going to ring true. And don’t be influenced by anyone else. Your story must be original and it must come from the heart.”