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Between the Covers

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Jackie Collins lets us in on the secrets of her sultry new novel

Literary icon Jackie Collins is cranking up the heat this summer with her latest, most seductive novel to date, Married Lovers, a sexy page-turner released in June that is guaranteed to be the steamiest read of the year. Married Lovers takes readers on a scandalous jaunt through the lives of three A-List power couples in Los Angeles and introduces them to dynamic heroine Cameron Paradise, a gorgeous fitness trainer who gets caught up in the endless barrage of lust, sex-crazed moguls, spoiled Hollywood princesses and all the wild, sizzling drama that rocks Tinsel Town to its core, even an astonishing crime of passion. Destined to be yet another best seller for Collins, who has sold more than 400 million books in 40 countries since the release of her first novel, The World Is Full of Married Men, Married Lovers is a hotbed rife with Hollywood’s never-ending salaciousness. It will no doubt leave readers salivating for more.

And just when New Orleans couldn’t possibly get any hotter, fans passionate for Jackie’s literary lasciviousness will be thrilled to know the queen of red-hot writing will be making her way to the Crescent City for a stop on her Married Lovers book tour on Friday, July 11, at Harrah’s Casino New Orleans. Guests will have the opportunity to purchase their own copy of the book and attend a meet and greet with Collins at 12:30 p.m. at Masquerade in Harrah’s. New Orleanians won’t have to look too hard to spot Collins’ tricked-out tour bus and its exterior emblazoned with a colorful, wraparound, larger-than-life image of the writer herself along with the cover of Married Lovers. And with an interior replete with a luxurious master suite and a posh lounge with full bar, Collins’ rock star vehicle is definitely suited to let the good times roll! All aboard!

Hi, Jackie! The buzz surrounding Married Lovers is exciting, so congratulations to you! New Orleans is looking forward to seeing you on your upcoming book tour stop at Harrah’s Casino.

Thank you so much, Christine. Oh, yes, it’s going to be fun. I was in New Orleans about 10 years ago, and I went in the casino, which was on a riverboat. That was great, and it was full of the most amazing characters. I’m looking forward to seeing the French Quarter and having dinner at Antoine’s, of course. And I want to go to the House of Blues for that Sunday gospel brunch. I need to drop by Café du Monde as well. And I’m so excited about the Harrah’s tour because I did it last year on a small degree, and this year we’re going all out. My tour bus is really unbelievable!

I hear that this fabled tour bus you’ll be traveling across the country in is totally tricked out.

Oh, is it tricked out! Wow, I should send you an e-mail of it. It’s so great! It’s an enormous former Mariah Carey tour bus. It’s got a bedroom, two bathrooms, two big-screen TVs and a great driver, and it’s completely emblazoned with the book cover, so it’s fantastic!

That’s going to be insane seeing that behemoth tearing down the highway! You will never escape the groupies!

I know! The driver drove to L.A. from Nashville to get me and told me that people were just hanging out their cars taking photographs of it. I’m going to have to be done up at all times. I can’t get off the bus unless I’m looking good! [Laughs]

Are you going to act like a rock star on your bus this summer?

Oh, yeah! I’ll demand orange M&Ms to be waiting for me at every casino! [Laughs]

I love it! I know all the VIPs and your guests from Harrah’s Casino are going to love the whole bus experience.

Yes, I think so. I’m thinking about doing a blog on my Web site, at www.jackiecollins.com, every couple of days to write about what’s happening. And what’s so nice about it is that I get to actually meet the people who read my books. It’s so great because normally I do book tours in New York and Los Angeles where people are sophisticated and cool and they see a lot of celebrities, but when you get out into the country, it’s fantastic! They know all my books, and they’re so thrilled to meet me. There are so many great experiences, people and characters that I come across in my travels.

What do you love to hear from your fans?

I love to hear that they love the characters. They all single out Lucky Santangelo, of course; she’s become such an icon, kind of like a female James Bond. She’s been in six books now, and she’s done a miniseries—once she was played by Nicollette Sheridan and once by Kim Delany. Both actresses were great as Lucky. She’s so iconic to readers because she’s so strong. She does all the things we would like to do and says all the things we would like to say, and she gets away with it. She kicks ass pretty good!

Aren’t you considering bringing Lucky back at least one more time?

Yes! I would love to make a movie. People love characters! Look at the new Harrison Ford movie; nineteen years later, they’re going back to see the character Indiana Jones in droves. People love the characters in Sex and the City. And many people love the character of Lucky and would love to see her in a real movie. I had dinner the other night with Nicollette, and I said “Do you want to come back as Lucky?” and she said, “Yeah, before I’m too old,” and I said, “Great!”

And you have that ability to implant your characters into the hearts and minds of others. What an amazing gift!

It really is. People say the most wonderful things to me on my Web site, and it’s very heartwarming, like “You’re my favorite author, please write faster. Can’t you write a book every three months?” and on and on. It’s a great spur to write faster and create more characters and have more fun with my books. Married Lovers is my 26th book!

That’s incredible! You obviously never suffer from writer’s block.

No, and that’s a lot of work, because I handwrite my books. And I love my characters. I never plan them ahead of time, and I never know what’s going to happen. I just have fun with them, and I think that’s why people say to me, “Oh! I couldn’t put your book down!” Because when I’m writing it, I can’t put my pen down. I love creating new characters. I guess I grew up reading Charles Dickens and Harold Robbins and the combination is quite a combination! [Laughs]

Indeed! So once you have a character in mind, they talk to you and basically take over the story …

Yes. I don’t know what they’re going to do next! [Laughs] People tell me my books are very sexy—well, I don’t know when they’re going to have sex! It happens just like it does in life. I love that kind of sexual tension. In Married Lovers, I loved building sexual tension around Cameron. There’s always that kind of buzz going on.

Cameron Paradise is a new type of heroine for you, a gorgeous fitness instructor in L.A. who interacts with three high-powered couples and changes lives forever. How much fun did you have developing her?

She was very interesting to create because usually I don’t write blonde heroines. Also, she had experienced an abusive marriage and was fleeing from that man and trying to make a life for herself. I was in Vancouver last year and visited a home where these women hide from men at a secret address so the men don’t find them. The stories I heard were so unbelievable, I thought, this is part of our life and people don’t talk about it much. So I wanted to have a little bit of that.

I imagine that even when you vacation, your mind races with writing ideas. Always! People ask me if I want to take a vacation, and I say, “No, I want to savor my characters!” I took my whole family to Hawaii last year; we went to this beautiful house on the beach with two swimming pools, and I found myself in the computer room the whole time! [Laughs] I came out for lunch and dinner! I like to bring you to places you haven’t been and tell you all about it.

I love how your first novel in 1968 got popular in the United States: Novelist Barbara Cartland declared it “filthy” and “disgusting” and that helped bolster sales!

Exactly! It was banned in Boston, Australia and South Africa, and eventually I made a movie of it with the actress Carroll Baker from Baby Doll starring in it. It was quite controversial, actually. The last movie that I made, produced and wrote was Hollywood Wives: the New Generation, with Farrah Fawcett, Robin Givens and Melissa Gilbert. That was fun. But unless I have creative control, I don’t sell anything. Lucky Chances and Lady Boss were great successes. And Hollywood Wives was one of the biggest successes of all time on television. So it’s time for another movie!

Do tiny, innocuous situations immediately spark ideas for you? Like if I told you that I was in my kitchen this morning and looked out the window and saw several well-built roofers on the roof next door, do the wheels in your mind spin?

Well, of course! One of the roofers would fall off the roof and right into my bedroom! [Laughs] That’s the imagination for you. And people ask me, “Why do you always write about goodlooking people?” Well, why not! If I’ve got a choice of writing about a guy who’s wellendowed with fabulous abs, why would I write about a fat, ugly guy? Also I’ve lived a charmed life of being in circumstances where I meet lots of incredibly good-looking people. I mean, I live in the middle of Hollywood.

Do you follow any types of rituals when you write?

I get a cup of green tea, and I play a shuffle of fantastic music I put together from iTunes. It’s very relaxing and then I start to write, and everything else blanks out! [Laughs] Funny, that’s my routine! I just add green frog socks to that mix in the winter. It helps in numerous ways! I am going to have to remember that. [Laughs] Frog socks in the winter!

You got expelled from school in London when you were 15. What happened?

I did! I hated school so much. They never taught me anything! I think movies should be taught in schools. There are so many wonderful movies about history. If people want to know about the Holocaust, they should show them Schindler’s List. School was so boring, so I didn’t learn anything. I was top in composition, which was writing, and at the bottom with everything else. I dreaded it. I was a loner; I had no friends. I didn’t want any friends because they were all such idiots! I just wanted to create my characters and write. I was thrown out of school because I waved at the resident flasher, who was busy flashing us every Tuesday when we went to play tennis and I would wave and say, “Oh, cold day today, isn’t it?” [Laughs] The teachers were furious with me. I played truant a lot, so they finally threw me out. And I remember it so distinctly: I took this horrible gray uniform and I stood on the bridge overlooking the Thames in London, and I just tossed that uniform into the water and said, “Goodbye, school!”

That’s awesome! That was a life-changing moment, no doubt.

Absolutely, because I wanted to write more than anything. I was an actress for about 10 minutes, but I never wanted to do that; I did it for money. I was in lots of small movies, always playing the Italian girl, and I don’t know why! [Laughs] But I was always writing and creating characters since I was 8 years old. That’s all I’ve wanted to do. It’s my passion in life. Eight years old is pretty young to know what you want to do, but I did.

Jackie, how much fun has it been making fans happy with delicious scandals, incredible exploits and remarkably addictive characters through your 26 books?

I’ve had the most fun doing that. Getting input from the readers is so incredible. Sometimes I’ll do speaking engagements, and I know I’m very inspirational to women because I’m a school dropout and I followed my dream. I always tell women that you have to have something else in life that you want to do other than a husband or children, because one day the children will leave and have their own lives, and that husband might be slaving over a hot secretary! [Laughs] You have to have another interest, whether it’s making cupcakes or sewing or writing. Have something for yourself. I really put that message out to women, and I get a lot of love and respect back, and it’s really great.