The Gloss Interviews Jackie Collins (The Gloss)
If you’re anything like us, you probably spent your pre-teen years stealing all your mom’s Jackie Collins novels. The talented writer has been turning out some our favorite saucy reads for over 40 years, and today her work is as fast paced and sexy as ever. After devouring her latest bestseller (Poor Little Bitch Girl – it’s about high class prostitution and murder, and it’s almost impossible to put down) we checked in with Jackie to hear about her upcoming projects, inspirations, and sometimes scandalous past.
You wrote your first novel, The World Is Full of Married Men, in 1968. How do you feel the romance genre has evolved over the years?: First of all, I never call my books romance novels. I always call them relationship novels. A romance novels, to me, is some guy on a white horse rescuing a damsel in distress. I’ve always written strong kick ass women who aren’t waiting for a man, they’re waiting to do things with their lives. I was writing about sex in my books long before anyone else, and I feel I started a trend of writing strong women who were equal to men and wanted to be treated as equal to men. That’s something we all need to work towards, and I feel like that hasn’t changed all that much over the years.
Do you think critical perception of the genre has changed? Do people take these sort of books more seriously than they used to?: As a whole, I’m not sure. I feel like personally, I’e been very lucky. My very first book was successful, and I’m still on the bestseller list. And I get some really wonderful reviews. And I think I appeal to a very wide group, I have readers who start and fifteen, and at the same time their Mom is reading me and so is Grandma. I feel like my writing appeals to a wonderful, wide group of people of all backgrounds.
Do you have an ideal reader? Or any particular group of people that you imagine writing for?
I totally write for myself. I’m my reader. I write the books Ilike to read. I like fast paced fiction. If I can’t describe the room in two paragraphs, forget about it. I hate long descriptive novels. I just wrote a fabulous Hollywood party in the book I’m working on now, Goddess of Vengeance, and it took 5 pages. And you would feel you were at that party.
Your work was definitely considered vey scandalous at the beginning of your career -I think The World is Full of Married Menwas even banned in Australia. Considering everything you see on television and the Internet, do you think books still have capacity to shock people to the same extent? You know, I never tried to shock people. I do think if you try to shock people you’re on a slippery slope. When you see what we have on the Internet or television now, it just wouldn’t work.
You may not have tried, but it was still considered pretty shocking at the time. Some of them still do shock people. Why do you think that is?: I think it’s because I write very honestly. I’m a street writer. I was thrown out of school at 15. So I write things the way I see them. I’m not edited, I like to do what I do. I think that’s also why it appeals to people, because I know Hollywood so well and they’re getting an inside glimpse into a famous persons life who they suspect they kind of recognize, but can’t put their finger on who it is. Being banned was incredible. It wasn’t just Australia, it was also Boston and South Africa. I was also banned in China 12 years ago when they pirated copies ofLucky. The authorities said they were going execute the publisher! Apparently I was corrupting Chinese moral character.
How much do you turn to real life for inspiration?
Always. Last night I was at a club called SoHo House, and I was watching the action. I like to observe people. And I might take the essence of a couple of famous people and use it as a basis for a character. I’d never write the actual famous person, because you’d be bored by page ten. You’d be saying “oh, that’s Angelina Jolie, I already know what’s going to happen.” I take the essence of someone’s character and base it around that.
Out of your many novels, do you have a favorite?
Always the current one is the favourite. Poor Little Bitch Girl is my favorite at the moment. I love the Santangelo saga. I guess my favourite is the first one, Chances, which created the Santangelo dynamic. Everyone loves Lucky! I’m on twitter, and I get so many tweets from people saying “you need to bring her back.”
What about other writers you admire?
I just read James Frey’s, Bright Shiny Morning. I couldn’t put it down. I love fast paced male fiction, like Elmore Leonard’s or Mario Puzo’s. The Godfather is my favourite book. And Chelsea Handler is hilarious. Bang, Bang, her new one, it’s very funny.
What’s your writing process generally like?
I usually get up very early, 6:30 or 7 and go straight to my desk and write a few sentences. And then I’ll get dressed and have my coffee. I think it’s important to start writing immediately, that’s a good trick for writers to know.
When did you decide you wanted to be a writer? When I was about 7. I came home one day, I lived in London, I’d been to a communal swimming pool and I thought “I’ll sit down at my father’s card table and I will write a novel.” An that was it.
I was surprised to see you’ve never written an autobiography. Is it something you’d consider? I’ve been thinking of writing one! I’d call it Reform School or Hollywood. That’s what my parents told me when I was thrown out of school. I have a lot of juicy stories!
What upcoming projects are you working on now?
Right now I’m busy working on a Goddess of Vengeance and a Lucky Santangelo cookbook. I’m also doing Jackie Collins Hollywood Snaps – it’s going to be pictures I’ve taken of Hollywood.
And last, what compliments do you most like to receive from your readers?:
That they couldn’t put my book down. And I love that. They say “I got your new book and I was planning to parcel out the chapters, and instead I devoured in one fell swoop and I was up until 5 in the morning.” And I love social media, because I get to hear from them all the time on twitter and facebook.
Click here for the original interview.