She has built her bestselling career on the back of strong female characters, and is famous for her often controversial opinions.
So it’s really no surprise that erotic fiction writer, Jackie Collins (76), is now a fan of teenage pop star Miley Cyrus.
Speaking exclusively to the Weekly from her hotel room in Sydney, the author believes Miley’s infamous performance at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards was fantastic.
“She’s not being told what to do, she’s doing it her way, and I like that in a woman,” she says. “I like a woman who has the strength to say, ‘No, this is what I’m going to do, and like it or not, I’m going to do it.’”
With 30 novels under her belt – all of which have made the New York Times bestseller list, Jackie has built her success on writing about women who do all the things everyone else would like to get away with, but can’t.
While many are quick to judge Miley, Jackie points out that although she was unpopular in the media, her music shot to number one.
“There was Lady Gaga all over the VMAs, totally naked, and nobody took a blind bit of notice! Miley was kind of like an excitable puppy who was cute, doing her thing,” she enthuses.
Jackie, whose characters “kick ass and don’t get their asses kicked”, has been strongly influenced by her bohemian upbringing, rebellious teenage years and virtual invisibility as a middle child.
At an early age, she quickly gained an insight into the double standards between men and women.
“My mother was a beautiful woman, very lovely and gentle,” she says. “My father was a chauvinist. He was tall, dark and handsome and I know he wasn’t faithful. I would hear the derogatory comments he and his friends would make about women all the time.”
These early experiences would shape her strong beliefs in sexual equality and how her characters behave.
Lucky Santangelo, who has featured in seven of Jackie’s books, is perhaps the character who has most influenced millions of readers worldwide. Described by Jackie as “almost a James Bond for women”, Lucky embodies characteristics that she holds dear.
“She reminds me of Angelina Jolie, because she’s got all those qualities – strong, tough, yet kind and wonderful and a great mother,” says Jackie.
In her latest novel, Lucky returns in a prequel to the rest of the series, as a teenager. Jackie says it’s retrospectively autobiographical.
“All of the scenes in the South of France were near Cannes where I spent a lot of time, so when I was writing it, I really took myself back in time to when I was there,” she says.
While she was sure readers would be interested in Lucky’s early years, Jackie, had broader motivations for penning Confessions of a Wild Child. It was written almost as a teenage manual for girls.
“I don’t think it’s very clever to wear a skirt that looks like a belt, 10-inch heels, then get rolling drunk and fall into bed with the first guy that asks you,” she says. “And a lot of girls do that today, unfortunately.”
In this latest novel, she terms an alternative code for young girls, called “Almost”, which is having fun, but not having sex.
It’s a practice she followed as a teenager, despite her rebellious nature.
Jackie was expelled from school and regularly stuffed her bed and snuck out at night, often getting drunk – something she believes being the middle child enabled her to do.
“My sister (popular actress Joan) was a great success in movies, and so they [my parents] were all over her, and my father wanted a boy, so that was my younger brother, so I was kind of the middle child who could get away with whatever I wanted and nobody would take any notice of me!”
However, Jackie is quick to point out that, just like Lucky, she was street-smart.
“My father was a theatrical agent, so we saw a lot of famous people. They weren’t traditional parents. They didn’t care about homework – I don’t think they ever visited the school until I was expelled,” she says. It’s a parenting style Jackie hasn’t copied, choosing to be a “hands-on” mother to her three daughters.
Despite her wild, erotic fiction, Jackie is a firm believer in marriage fidelity, saying that if a man plays around, then it’s time to get out of the marriage. But she also warns that women need to be careful not to ignore their husbands for a baby, or for a career.
While Confessions of a Wild Child is likely to be another bestseller, there’s no slowing down for the author. With plenty of travel to do promotional work, more books on the horizon, and a trip to London to receive an OBE, life promises to continue on the adventurous road she has come to expect.
Confessions of a Wild Child (Simon & Schuster, $37). We have five copies to give away. Visit nzww.co.nz