Jackie Collins On Meeting The Beatles

We’re pretty honored to start this week with legendary author Jackie Collins – whose new book The Santangelos hits bookstores tomorrow. But what’s happening to bookstores really? As Collins notes, there are less and less every year and self-publishing is on trend, while getting published gets harder and harder. We discussed these industry changes with Collins – that and the fact that she’ll never write about child porn, the time Ringo Starr presented her husband a cigar and why Hollywood is just a fantasy world…

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From start to finish, what would be your ideal food day?

Green tea in the morning, smoked salmon sandwiches for lunch, more green tea and chocolate cookies in the afternoon, caviar, shrimp and steak for dinner, followed by peach pie and ice cream!

What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in the publishing industry from when you first started?

Big changes. It’s all about eBooks now. I find that fifty percent of my sales are online. Unfortunately, every year there are less and less bookstores – and it is very hard to get published. Self-publishing is definitely on trend.

Can you tell us a bit about your new book?

The Santangelos is the ultimate book about the Santangelo family: Lucky, Gino, Lennie, Max and Bobby. They are all part of the epic story, which includes murder, love, sex, revenge, passion, and assassination. A wholesome family story, with Lucky at the forefront.

When and how do ideas usually come to you when you’re writing?

Ideas are all around me. I love listening to people, reading newspapers and trolling the Internet, but I was basically born with the gift of telling a story about anything!

Do you think it’s important as a writer to not be worried about being offensive or controversial? Are there ever topics you feel you need to avoid?

I would never write about child porn or disgusting pedophiles. As a writer, I write about characters – good and bad – that I find interesting.

What’s your favorite outlet on social media and why?

Twitter and Facebook are fun. I love to interact with the people who read my books. And Instagram is the best! Pinterest is fun.  Checkout my board – “Smokin’ Hot!”

What has social media done for authors?

It’s given them access to their readers. I love hearing what my readers have to say.

Did you at first like or hate the idea of being limited to 140 characters on Twitter?

It enables one to be concise. If I wish to say more, I post a blog on my website at jackiecollins.com.

What types of books do you see being on the New York Times bestseller list in fifty years?

Mine I hope! And more female authors. Right now, males seem to dominate the bestseller lists.

Advice to authors just starting out…

Keep at it!  You never know when lightening will strike. If you are a true writer, nothing will stop you.

Do you have a memory of when your Father worked with The Beatles? What was it?

Kind of not! But I met all the Beatles at my husband’s club Tramp in London. In fact, Ringo [Starr] presented my husband with a cigar when I gave birth to our first baby!

A childhood recipe you’ll never forget and why…

Roast lamb, roasted potatoes, gravy and peas. My mother cooked it every Sunday. You can find the recipe for my roasted potatoes in my cookbook – The Lucky Santangelo Cookbook. Amazing cocktails too! And my favorite – the Santangelo salmon.

Your books give people an insider’s view of Hollywood. How has Hollywood changed since you first started writing? For better or for worse?

Hollywood is really a fantasy world that drives people to L.A. It’s changed over the years because the players have changed. I love writing about the real nitty gritty disguised as fiction.

Advice you’d give to your 16-year-old self…

Buy property. Save money. Write more books. And never do drugs!

Best advice you ever received and from who….

Marlon Brando once told me, “Whatever you do, do it with passion.”

What is your all-time favorite book?

The Godfather by Mario Puzo and The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

What are your favorite restaurants in New York and LA?

In L.A., Craig’s, Mr. Chow and Cut. In New York, Orso and Nobu.

Do you like to cook? What’s a go-to recipe you love?

Shepherd’s Pie. Totally delish! Ground beef mixed with herbs, peas, onions and carrots. Boil it for twenty minutes, then put into a dish and add mashed potatoes on top. Then bake until potatoes brown on top.

What won’t you leave the house without?

My cell phone, credit card, a bottle of water and sunglasses.

In the same vein as ‘what is the new black’ in fashion, what’s ‘the new potato’ in publishing right now? 

I never believe in following trends. Some writers think that if they follow a big bestseller and write something similar, it’s going to happen for them too. But it never does. Stick to what you know, and write from your heart. Happy writing!

*Jackie Collins, photographed at Craig’s in Los Angeles, CA by Danielle Kosann.

If you liked reading about Jackie, read these interviews with Linda Rodin, Diane von Furstenberg, and Donna Karan