Queen of the bonkbuster

Jackie Collins and daughter Tiffany

Jackie Collins’ love of celebrity sex and gossip has made her rich. After 29 novels, and aged 75, she’s still writing, says Sue Leonard

YOU have to admire Jackie Collins. She has written 29 novels and sold 400m copies. Aged 75, she’s not slowing down.

When I meet her at her suite in the Merrion Hotel, she’s dressed in black, exudes glamour and looks glowing.

You’d expect such a big star to be a cautious interviewee. Not Jackie. She is such great company; so funny, engaged, and giving, that my interview feels more like a gossip with an intimate friend.

I’m tempted to tell her I’m a big fan; but if Jackie is like the celebrities in her latest novel, those are four words she’s bored of hearing. A sexy, sun-drenched thriller, The Power Trip is a departure for Jackie. It takes her away from Los Vegas, to a luxury yacht in the Sea of Cortez.

Inspired by holidays Jackie has spent on a friend’s luxury yacht, The Power Trip is a deliciously gossipy read.

Most of the men are simply gorgeous, from the powerfully sexy Russian billionaire to the edgy journalist. The exceptions are a sleazy politician who gets his comeuppance, and Jeromy, an ageing, gay ex-Etonian.

“Jeromy is appalling,” says Jackie. “I based him on someone I know and cannot bear.” So writing can be a form of revenge? “Exactly,” she says. “It was fun writing the politician, too. So many of them have been in the headlines with sex scandals. These interns arrive fresh from college with their little mini-skirts. They’re really cute and some old fart of 50 is after them immediately. I wanted to show how he manages to draw her in.”

Jackie has been writing about sex for 30 years. What does she make of the fuss caused by Fifty Shades of Grey?

“It’s so startling,” she says. “I think it’s total media hype. It started in New York and was described on the Today Show as ‘mummy porn’, and women said, ‘I must get that’.”

Has she read it?

“I read the first one. I’m happy she’s got women going into book stores, but I don’t think the book has a healthy message for young girls. My women kick ass. If there’s going to be any spanking, my heroines will be doing it,” she says.

Life hasn’t always been kind to Jackie. Her first marriage ended swiftly. Her husband was into drugs. After her second husband, Oscar Lerman, died after 27 blissful years, Jackie became engaged, but her fiance died of a brain tumour. She now lives alone.

“I like not having to answer to anybody,” she says.

“I can do what I want and I love the freedom.”

A self-confessed TV addict, who adores the internet, especially Twitter and Pinterest, she writes, in longhand, at one end of the house, leaving her computer at the other end.

“I tweet when I’m watching the Emmys, or when I’m at an Oscar party,” she says. “My readers love that.”

Does she date?

“I have a man for every occasion. I have a lot of friends, and I have guys who like to go to the movies, and guys who like to go out to dinner. I have the occasional hook up, if I feel like it. But I don’t want to live with anybody, ever again,” she says.

We talk about the increasing numbers of single women, who seem unable to find their Mr Right. What’s her advice?

“Women should play games,” she says. “I really believe that. They should not be easy. I’ve spoken to lots of guys and they don’t like a girl jumping into bed with them on a first date. Well, they do at the time, but they won’t ring her afterwards. If she’ll do it with him when she doesn’t know him well, she’s going to do it with everyone.”

In Hollywood, most relationships happen on a film set.

Where does that leave ordinary women?

“They should join a gym, a library, or alcoholics anonymous,” she says. She bursts into raucous laughter. “That’s a great place for picking people up.”

Since arriving in Hollywood aged 15, having been expelled from school for waving and smiling at the resident flasher, Jackie seems to have had it all. But her childhood in London was intensely lonely. “I was a loner, but I’d lose myself in the Faraday Tree or the Famous Five. And I started writing when I was eight. I remember the day I started and I knew that was for me.

“I didn’t like the other girls in my class,” she says. “They were babies. The teachers were mean. I played truant all the time. I’d change out of my uniform in the tube station, and go to the movies. I’d forge notes.

“My parents never asked how my homework was going, or came to an event at the school.

“My father was a theatrical agent, surrounding himself with dancers and singers. My mum, who stayed at home, was soft and pliant. I’d come out from school and there’d be no one to meet me. The others girls would be collected in station wagons with two Labradors in the back. They’d be going to the country for the weekend. And I’d be slouching home.”

How that’s changed. Jackie loves her Hollywood lifestyle and has close female friends.

But what’s it like to have so much fame?

“My readers are respectful. And when I’m at a red-carpet event, and the photographers are all screaming at you for a picture, Tom Cruise walks in behind you, and they all drop you like a hot potato.

“It’s horrendous for my movie star friends,” she says. “I went to lunch with Liz Hurley one day, and she had paparazzi on the bonnet of her car.

“She wasn’t doing a movie at the time, but they’d been following her all day.”

Jackie enjoys entertaining, when there’s time. She gave a dinner party for Michael Caine last year; but Christmas is strictly family time.

“I usually cook for 25 people, and have a huge tree. But, this year, I’m taking everyone to the Bahamas.” Will Joan {her sister, actress Joan Collins} be there? “Not this year, unfortunately. I had dinner with her last night, and she said she has to be in LA,” Jackie says.

Jackie has planned out her next two books.

She’s also writing a play, and a cookery book, and is slowly penning her memoirs. She tells me about all the characters she plans, one day, to bring back. Where did she get the work ethic?

“I love it. It’s what I do. I have a passion for it. I love creating characters. I can’t tell you what fun this book was. Once I got into them, I couldn’t wait to get back to them,” she says.

Has she ever had writer’s block? “Never. Hollywood is like a sexual smorgasbord,” she says. “All young actresses sleep with every actor. It’s a fascinating town to write about.”

* The Power Trip, Simon and Schuster, €13.99. Kindle: €12.48.


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