Interview With Jackie Collins

Jackie Collins Jackie Collins has been called a "raunchy moralist" by the late director Louis Malle, "Hollywood's own Marcel Proust" by Vanity Fair magazine and "the Victor Hugo of our time" by Simon Doonan in the New York Observer. With over 400 million copies of her books sold in more than 40 countries, and with some twenty-one New York Times bestsellers to her credit, Jackie Collins is one of the world's top-selling novelists. From the bedrooms of Bel Air and Beverly Hills to the boardrooms of New York, Jackie Collins has blown the lid off the lives and loves of the rich, famous, and fabulous, and has given her readers an unrivaled insiders knowledge of life, love and scandal in the entertainment industry. She is known for giving her readers an unrivaled insiders knowledge of Hollywood and the glamorous lives and loves of the rich, famous, and sometimes bad! "I write about real people in disguise," she says. "If anything, my characters are toned down -- the truth is much more bizarre."

Jackie Collins started writing as a kid, making up steamy stories her schoolmates paid to devour. Her first book, The World Is Full of Married Men became a sensational bestseller because of its open sexuality and the way it dealt honestly with the double standard. After that came The Stud, Sinners, The Love Killers, The World is Full of Divorced Women, The Bitch, Lovers And Gamblers, Chances, and then the international sensation, Hollywood Wives -- a #1 New York Times bestseller, which was made into one of ABC's highest-rated miniseries starring Anthony Hopkins and Candice Bergen.

On the heels of last year's New York Times bestseller Hollywood Wives -- The New Generation, comes Deadly Embrace, the next novel in the continuing saga of Madison Castelli, the wildly beautiful, and dangerously intelligent heroine first introduced in the L.A. Connections series and star of Lethal Seduction. Madison is a classic Jackie Collins heroine -- a smart, sexy, exotically beautiful woman with a flair for danger and terrible family secrets.

Ms. Collins lives in Los Angeles, California. Her hobbies are photography, soul music, and exploring exotic locations so she can write about them later. In this interview, Jackie Collins discusses Deadly Embrace, which is just out in paperback, and her successful writing career.

Hollywood Wives - The New Generation by Jackie Collins
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The question everyone wants to ask -- do you base your characters on real people?

I choose a real life character I find fascinating, then I combine them with other people who are also fascinating to me, and I create a mix. You may recognize some of the people, but you're never quite sure who it actually is.

How do you respond when people say there's too much sex in your novels?

It's extremely amusing because there is so much sex on TV now. My novels should not shock people, yet they do. Is it because I'm a woman writing about sex? Or is it because people feel sex is much more personal when it's captured in a book? I don't know. I only know that I prefer writing erotic sex to rude sex, and also, I write great married sex -- contrary to popular belief, that does take place! Just ask Angelina Jolie and Billy Bob Thornton!

Do you think Hollywood has changed since the tragic events of September the 11th?

Yes, I do. Hollywood is turning more toward family entertainment, and things that will make people feel good and uplifting subjects. Hopefully it will last.

With the Oscar wins of Denzel Washington for best actor, and Halle Berry for best actress, along with Sidney Poitier's honorary Oscar this year, do you think that more doors are finally open in Hollywood to African-Americans, and women for that matter?

The doors in Hollywood are very hard to push open, but it was a wonderful triumph this year that Denzel and Halle both won, and that Sidney Poitier made such an incredible Oscar speech. It's a tough business -- tough for men, women and any kind of ethnic group. Women have made a little progress -- not that much. And actresses are still pushed out when they get older, although actors can keep going for a much longer time. Equality does not exist in movies.

How does Madison Castelli, the heroine of Deadly Embrace, differ from your other famous heroine, Lucky Santangelo?

Madison is a different kind of woman. Lucky is wilder than Madison, but Madison is getting there! She is smart and savvy, and a journalist, so she has a journalist's mind. She also has a very convoluted relationship with her father, and that is something she has in common with Lucky. I kind of regard Madison as my new heroine, because I have written five books about Lucky Santangelo, so where else can I go! Although she will be back shortly because Lucky is a true survivor.

Deadly Embrace opens with a terrifying robbery at gunpoint in a Los Angeles restaurant. What was the inspiration for this dramatic, very scary episode?

Deadly Embrace by Jackie Collins
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I was actually held up with two friends in my car by a masked gunman with an Uzi in my face. And I felt that even though this happened several years ago, it was important to recreate in a book. Restaurant hold-ups do happen in L.A. and I wanted to explore the terror it brings, and also, how Madison manages to take control. I think it's important in life that if you find yourself in any situation, you must be able to control it. And Madison does just that.

Deadly Embrace is set in various locales; Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New York and Europe. What's different about the nature of celebrity and the pursuit of glamour in these places?

Well in L.A. it's obvious, because the film industry is based there. Las Vegas is a party town, Hollywood-ites go to Vegas to party and to visit the luxury nightclubs and restaurants, and most of all, the boxing matches, where it's one big long party. In New York celebrity is kind of different. It's restaurants and openings, and people keep more to themselves. In Europe it's more about the film festivals where celebrities go and show their movies off along with their latest couture outfits.

You use an interesting dramatic technique in Deadly Embrace -- switching back and forth from Madison Castelli's present day exploits to her father, Michael Castelli's, colorful past. Why did you want to explore Michael's past?

Well, I first wrote about Madison Castelli in L.A. Connections and in that book he was just Madison's father. Then I wrote about him in Lethal Seduction, and, once again, he was just Madison's very handsome, mysterious, good-looking father, and I decided that this man had a fascinating early life, and it turns out he did. Of course, I didn't know what it was until I actually wrote him! I write my books in longhand, and my pen takes me on a trip -- Michael was some trip!

Your novels, including Deadly Embrace, often feature Hollywood-Mafia connections. What intrigues you about this?

I have always been intrigued by the combination of glamour and violence. And I know many people who tread a thin line, so it is a subject I know quite a lot about, and find very interesting to write about.

What's in store for Madison Castelli after Deadly Embrace?

I am thinking of writing another book about Madison in the future. I feel she has so much more to do. She is only thirty and has led an extremely exciting and interesting life, therefore, there is much more in store for Madison.

What's your next exciting project?

The book I am working on now is called Hollywood Divorces. And yes, you will be playing the guessing game big time! There is no divorce like a Hollywood divorce, and I will be creating a whole bunch of new characters that you will love to hate and hate to love. In the meantime, I hope you have fun with Deadly Embrace.

(January, 2004)

Posted with permission of the publisher.