My Way…Jackie Collins (Madison Magazine)
By Nicholas Fonseca
Jackie Collins has earned the right to be as fabulous as she damned well pleases. For 45 years, the British-born author has been making readers hot under the collar with addictive bestsellers boasting delicious titles like Lady Boss and Poor Little Bitch Girl. Her latest, 2012’s The Power Trip, takes place on a luxury superyacht and features Russian gangsters, Somali pirates and a gay Latin pop star. It’s safe to say Collins, 75, has no shortage of imagination – or ambition. She is currently working on five separate projects, including a memoir, cookbook, stage play and two more novels. Tired yet? This interview will perk you right back up.
Every minute counts. I write longhand and it takes a tremendous amount of discipline. I never have writer’s block, but sometimes have getting-to-the-desk block. I have to shut myself away. So it’s a bit like going to prison – but a prison with all my favorite characters.
Accepting the faults in others helps you to forgive. Onc of the reasons I write about double standards is because I saw it in my own family. My father considered women to be wives, mothers, sisters and daughters – and the rest were sluts and whores. He was very shocked by my books but he was also proud of the success I achieved.
I have school but believe in education. There was nothing entertaining whatsoever in my school. I mean, maths, geometry and Latin?! I came out bottom at everything except composition, where I excelled. I was kicked out at 15 and had a ceremony with a couple of friends on the Thames, where we stood on the bridge and threw my uniform into the river. I used to have nightmares I would be sent back! I wouldn’t advise it today. Kids should stay in school because education today is so much more fabulous. Whatever you want to learn, you now have computers and movies to explain it for you.
The only thing I’ve sacrificed to get ahead is sleep. Because I was such a wild child myself, I wanted to be there for my kids. As a writer, you can have a career and a family because you write at home. I got up every morning, gave my kids breakfast, took them to school, met them again in the afternoon. At night, I would go to nightclubs which my husband owned, be out until three in the morning and up again at seven. It was pretty hectic but I thought, one day I’m going to sleep as long as I want.
Don’t fear death – it happens to everyone. I lost two really great men to horrible illnesses. My fiancé of six years was incredible-looking, athletic and in great shape. One Christmas, he got the flu. The next week we went to the doctor and said, “I’m fucked. They just told me I’ve got three months to live.” When that is thrown at you, it’s very difficult to handle. But I decided I would not mourn his life because it was a fantastic one. I celebrated it. I did the same thing with my late husband. I have pictures of both men all over my house.
My books are so much more than just guilty pleasures. I get a lot of letters from people who say I helped them through difficult times with my books. I write about relationships. I write books about today. I have a huge readership for everybody from 14 to 90 because I write to all different ages. My characters are black and Latino, Australian, English and American. They’re gay, straight, whatever.
As women, we deserve better. Look at what’s going on all over the world. In some countries, we’re stoned to death. In others, women can be killed just for looking at a man. In China, they’re still drowning baby girls. Women are absolutely second-class citizens across the world, even though we’re trying to change that. As a best-selling author, I still sometimes feel if I were a man, I would get better treatment.
The most important quality a woman can have is her integrity. And the most overrated quality is big boobs. Or, I should say, fake big boobs.