Catching Up with Jackie Collins
By Dustin Fitzharris
What did you say?
My mouth dropped open. I was like, 'I'm supposed to be!'
What kind of little girl was Jackie Collins? Was she a bitch girl?
I wasn't a bitch girl, but I was a street-smart girl. I knew a lot of poor little bitch girls because I came to Hollywood at a very early age. I wrote a book once called Hollywood Kids, and it was about the offspring of adult Hollywood stars. They're so entitled some of them. They grow up in kind of a fantasy world and you find them going to clubs at 14 and 16 and saying, 'Don't you know who I am? Don't you know who my parents are?' There's this false sense of "I am somebody." Then there are a lot of suicides, and it's very sad. I don't think I'm bitchy. I think I listen to gossip, and then I change the names to protect the not-so-innocent and write about it. Writing is a great release because you don't have to be bitchy to anybody. You can get back at them with your books just by changing their names.
You have three daughters. What kind of mother are you?
I would like to think that I am their friend and that I was a very strict mother when they were growing up. Now they are three fantastic women. We're all very close. I think in Hollywood you have to be there for your children. You don't give them to a nanny and you don't go off on locations. You don't just say, 'Goodbye, my career comes first.' You put your children first. You put your husband with them and your career second -- always. Some people just end up with a career because they ignore the family. Then the divorce comes and along comes the pretty little women. These women who let their husbands go off on location without them are completely crazy.
It's like, "It's 10:00 ' do you know where your man is?"
Exactly! That's a great title for a book!
I'm sure your books are like your children too in that you can't pick a favorite. But if you had to pick your favorite out of the 27 you have written, which one would it be?
I would have to say Chances. I always call it my early Harold Robbins. It's the book where I created the Santangelo family. It's just a very interesting book, and it's my absolute favorite.
Many of your books have been turned into movies. Are there any books of yours that haven't been put on the screen that you would love to see?
Yeah. The one I really want to do desperately is Hollywood Divorces. It's about three women in Hollywood. One is this very young and hip director. She's like 19. Then there's this one who is like this Catherine Zeta Jones'type actress. Then the third one, who is my favorite, is a Latina movie star and singer. Perfect role for J-Lo! I love J-Lo! I'm such a fan. I love everything she does. I love her fashion. I love her music, and of course I love her husband. Marc Anthony's music is just fantastic.
It's interesting, but you said in a previous life you believe you may have been a panther or a leopard. Do you really believe that?
I really believe that. As I sit at my desk talking to you, behind me is this giant picture of a prowling leopard. I think I was a leopard. I don't know why. I'm just completely fascinated by them. I feel like that may be something from my past. There are different leopards and panthers all over my desk. They're all over my house. I used to wear leopard skin until it became so popular.
You don't follow trends?
No, I won't follow trends; they follow me.
What do you say to the critics who write you off as just another campy author?
My biggest critics are the people who have never read me. They'll just see my name and criticize the picture on the back of the book and dismiss me. Then occasionally I'll have a journalist come and interview me and go, 'You know, I never read you and my editor said I had to interview you, and I read your book, and it's a fantastic story.' They'll be completely shocked. I want to laugh and say, 'I've sold over 400 million books in my long career!' I don't really care about critics because most of them have an unfinished manuscript in their desk drawer. They are rather incensed that a woman has written, especially a fairly attractive one. That really annoys them. They'd rather me have a bun and glasses and never did any publicity.
Since you have written so many books, some assume you just give the idea to someone and have them write it.
Well, that's what James Patterson does, you know?
Oh yeah. Have you noticed he has a cowriter on every book? He gives them the idea and then they write the book. I could make a lot of money doing that, but I wouldn't.
Besides the book Goddess of Vengeance, what is next for you?
I'm doing the Lucky Santangelo cookbook. It's going to be a lot of fun. It's going to be a lot of my recipes, but a lot of Lucky's Italian ones. I love making meatballs and pasta.
You're a gourmet --
Yeah, I'm a gourmet -- no, wait, I'm not a gourmet chef! Like I wouldn't call myself a literary writer. I'd call myself a storyteller. As far as a cooking goes, I wouldn't call myself a gourmet. I would call myself a good family cooker.
Out of all of the things you've done and accomplished, what are you the most proud of?