Author Jackie Collins is still ‘Wild’ and steamy

Author Jackie Collins holds one of dozens of bound, handwritten manuscripts in her library
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Author Jackie Collins still has the steam engine chugging. Her newest novel, “Lucky: Confessions of a Wild Child,” released last week, is a prequel to the Lucky Santangelo books and centers on the treasured heroine during her formative teen years — the book has already landed a film deal with Amber Entertainment. The 76-year-old scribe talks about finally getting into character and staying clued-up.

For the record: In the Sunday Conversation feature in the Calendar section, the title of author Jackie Collins’ latest novel was given as “Lucky: Confessions of a Wild Child.” The title is “Confessions of a Wild Child.”

“Lucky: Confessions of a Wild Child” is the seventh book to feature the character Lucky Santangelo.


I wanted to take her back in time and navigate her path through boys, rock ‘n’ roll, drugs, how she handled it all. And what was weird was I found that as I was writing it in the first person as a 15-, 16-year-old that there was a lot of me in it. I was like, “Hmm, OK.” Because I was in the south of France; I had an aunt who had an apartment in Cannes, who would let me go and stay there, and sometimes she wasn’t there, so I would just run wild. I used to take the bus to Juan-les-Pins. That whole scene where the guys are playing pingpong back at the beach, it was all deja vu.

How was that? You’re usually so quick to separate yourself from your characters.

I finally discovered that Lucky as a teenager was exactly like me. And older Lucky is the woman I would like to be in another life because she becomes so powerful and so strong. She’s such a great character to write.

Was it challenging to write from the perspective of a 15-year-old, or was it easy to go back to that mind-set?

Not at all. I had a couple of godchildren who were staying here at my home who were both 18 and they would come with stories every night, talking about going to clubs with their fake IDs and blah blah blah. They had all this energy that I picked up on and tried to channel. And I would read them bits. But their energy definitely helped me remember what it was like and how the thought process is different.

You are so active on Twitter. Did your embracing of it come easily? Nonmillennials seem so in a panic by it.


I think it’s really important. It’s a great way of connecting with the fans. Before you would just get these pieces of paper, “Oh, I love you, Jackieeee! Please send me a picture.” That’s if I can even read the handwriting in the first place. But with Twitter, you can go on and communicate with people. You can see what they think of your books — the good and the bad — you can tell them when something is coming out or when you’re doing a book signing. It’s a great tool to reach out to people. It does take a lot of time.

Sometimes, I’ll come home late at night — like, recently I came home from Clive Davis’ Grammy party and I had taken a lot of pictures — of Miley Cyrus, pictures of Pharrell or Lionel Richie. The fans are always dying to see stuff like that, of the life I lead, so I got home and I posted all those. Sometimes I live tweet when there’s a show on that I like.

I saw you tweeting about “Shameless” and “Blacklist.” But how do you have the time?

Oh, I am a TV addict. I have four TiVos in my bedroom. I spend my life trying to catch up. I watch everything. I loved “Dexter,” but that’s over now. “Banshee” on Cinemax — have you seen that? I love it. I watch some of the sitcoms — “Mom” is kind of good. I like “How I Met Your Mother,” and I like the one with Ashton Kutcher [“Two and a Half Men”]. Wait. “Parenthood” is just great. It’s got so many things going on, which I love because that’s how I write. Oh, and “Nashville” — that’s so juicy. And how can we forget “Scandal”? I die for it. I just caught up on that yesterday, I was three episodes behind. [Kerry Washington] is fabulous, but [Tony Goldwyn] is so damn sexy. I’d write whole books about him if I could. And I have to say I am a bit addicted to “Shahs of Sunset.”

What was the book that did it for you as a kid, that made you want to do this for a living?

When I was a very little kid, it was Enid Blyton who wrote ‘The Magic Faraway Tree.” To me, that was the most amazing book I’ve ever read. It was all about this tree, and on each branch there lived a different person. And when you reached the top of the tree, there were different lands that went around and you had to jump on to catch the land. That fired my imagination. Then I moved on to Harold Robbins. And I loved “The Adventurers” — that was one of my key books to read. I went on to read stuff by Mickey Spillane and Terry Southern and James Baldwin. And I thought, the women are always available. They’re either in the kitchen or the bedroom, so it’s sex or cooking. So I wanted to write kick-ass women who do other things. Lucky is a character who can say and do what she wants to do and get away with it.

You’ve written dozens of books — the wheels are clearly always spinning. Where’s the weirdest place you found yourself writing?

[P]robably the strangest of all was when I would get my children after school and every stop light I would stop to write. I’d pick up my notebook and just write away for a solid minute or so because I didn’t want to lose the idea.

What are you reading right now — and do you do Kindle or iPad or the real thing?

I’m old school. I like the real thing. I like to look at the author’s picture, I like to read about them. I just finished reading “A House in the Sky” by Amanda Lindhout. Really a good book. I’m just about to read the new Harlan Coben book, which he sent me. I met him on Twitter.

Is there a reason you still prefer handwriting drafts versus doing it on the computer?

First of all, I love my handwriting. Everybody can understand it. Secondly, I love the fact that when a book is finished, I can get it leatherbound and store it in my library. To me, writing is writing. It’s not typing it on the computer. I do a lot of other things on the computer.

Preferred type of pen? Ball points are not my friend. Same for you?

Oh, yes. It must be black felt pens. Or blue felt pens. And white typing paper or yellow legal pads. There’s no other way.