Although officially known as a writer or novelist, Jackie Collins, who died from breast cancer on Saturday, frequently called herself a storyteller in interviews. In sharing her stories, she wasn’t afraid to speak honestly and openly about women and sex, or to discuss taboo topics. The same principles applied to her real life. The famed British author was always candid in interviews over the years, often blunt, outspoken, and entertaining. Collins provided us with excellent quotes about everything under the sun, especially love, life, and writing, topics that were near and dear to her.
Collins’ life was fascinating. After dropping out of high school at 15, she dabbled in acting before accomplishing her goal of becoming a published author just a handful of years later. Between 1968 and 2015, she published 32 books, and every single one of them hit The New York Times bestsellers list and many were adapted for film or TV. Obviously, I don’t have to tell you how amazing that is.
Even with all her fame and success, Collins was still relentlessly real and totally herself in the spotlight, so to celebrate her impressive 77-year life, I’ve rounded up 15 of her many, many candid quotes. Not only do they capture the straight-shooting author’s no-bullsh*t approach to sharing both information and stories, they’re tidbits worth considering.
"My biggest critics are the people who’ve never read me. It doesn’t bother me at all."
Collins knew that haters were, well, gonna hate. In a New York Post interview, she shared that her focus was on the people reacting positively to her work rather than on those with complaints about it. Take note; it’s an empowering attitude.
"I start with a title and a cast list of characters in my head. Then I let them take me off on a journey. I have no idea where I’m going but I do know it’s going to be a hell of a ride!"
"I wake up at 7 a.m., go straight to my desk and write one sentence. That’s the secret."
Being a bestselling author many, many times over wasn’t a coincidence or a stroke of luck; the secret to Collins’ success was hard work, as she revealed in a Bloomberg interview.
"I’ll be 110 and still writing."
Sadly, Collins didn’t make it to 110, as she told Hello she planned to, but really her goal was to write for her entire love, which she absolutely did. Her most recent book, The Santangelos, came out in June 2015.
"I never get lonely because I always have my characters with me."
"My books are so much more than just guilty pleasures. I get a lot of letters from people who say I helped them through difficult times with my books."
Collins knew the value of her work and didn’t let naysayers detract from it, as she showed in a Madison magazine interview in April 2013.
"Writing sex happens like it happens in life — organically."
As the “Queen of Steam,” Collins was known for being able to pen sexy scenes, and it wasn’t a forced effort for her. She told OK magazine in 2013 about her approach to getting them down on the page.
"When reading, imagery is everything — a good author makes you see, smell and breathe the characters."
Creating vibrant characters was important to Collin, as she told Stylist .
"Falling in love is like getting hit by a large truck and yet not being mortally wounded. Just sick to your stomach, high one minute, low the next."
Collins wrote about the strange yet common experience of falling in love in many of her books, and described it in a hilariously apt way in her 1985 novel Lucky.
"My philosophy for women is this: if you’re going to get married and have a fabulous marriage … then you’re going to have to do everything you’ve ever wanted to do before you get married."
After a rough first marriage, Collins had a long and loving second marriage with Oscar Lerman. As she shared in an interview with THR, she thought women should go into their marriage having done what they wanted to do first.
"We all have this dream that men out there have integrity — not a lot of them exist but there are some. Go find them!"
As much as Collins wrote about love and relationships, her storylines definitely weren’t all hearts and flower. Her attitude towards men was that Prince Charming was not a dime a dozen, as she shared with OK! magazine.
"But I think if you're going to indulge yourself, you may as well indulge, you know?"
While discussing her cookbook with NPR, Collins shared a food philosophy that applies well to life in general.
"Sometimes the package is best left unopened."
In living without regrets, Collins found that you don’t need to worry about all of the roads not taken. In an interview with Red magazine, she discussed this in the context of a story about meeting actor Tony Curtis after having had a crush on him for years; it’s another philosophy that applies more broadly, though.
"You only have one life or maybe more because I believe in the afterlife."
Collins also highlighted the importance of living without regrets in her New Idea interview, with an optimistic spin.
"Looking back, I'm not sorry about anything I did."
Amazingly, Collins lived a life without regrets, as she told People just days before she died. Few people can say that, much as we might aspire to.
Images: Giphy (7)