Jackie made it look easy
SO JACKIE Collins has died.
The news probably passed by you with only a flutter of interest, considering all else going on in this turbulent world.
Jackie Collins wrote 32 books and sold half a billion copies. She has earned the right to rest in peace.
I outgrew Jackie Collins in 1982, or perhaps it was 1983.
But when I was a fan back in the 70s, I waited eagerly for her every new release.
Diving into her steamy pages was an escape from the chaos of a household with three children under five.
"Mummy is busy," I would call to the children as I sprawled on the couch with my book while they raced around the house like mini-tornados destroying everything in their path.
A Jackie Collins book could take you to another world, where the men were as rich as Croesus and handsome as hell, and the women were kick-butting gorgeous femme fatales.
On one occasion, in 1977 from memory, as I finished the latest Jackie Collins, tidied up the bedlam around me and put the children to bed, I had an epiphany.
"I could write a Jackie Collins," I said to the empty (but tidy) room.
"She has a set formula," I continued out loud because I make very good conversation with myself.
I thought about it for all of 10 minutes.
She has a rich, handsome and dangerous man with a nefarious past meet a gorgeous woman with giant breasts and big hair.
Of course, stupendous chemistry explodes between them.
Then it is just a case of filling 600 pages with hot monkey sex, adding a surfeit of dirty words and contriving a happy ending.
So the next day with no plot, premise, outline or characters in mind, I put a piece of paper in my old electric typewriter and started tapping.
Four weeks and 732 pages later, I had a book. It had taken me every waking moment at the typewriter, but I had a Jackie Collins book. Written by me. Full of raunchy sex and 5.3 million swear words.
My characters (dangerous rich man and giant-breasted woman) had taken off for hot sex after the first page and virtually written the book themselves.
Was I chuffed or what?
Until I starting sending it to prospective publishers.
In those days, acknowledgement by letter was the proper way of business and I hovered around the letter box from six in the morning until nine at night.
It had not occurred to me that I might have written 732 pages of unresearched, unenlightened, uninteresting puerile puke.
One publisher even told me this. Not in quite those unpalatable words, but just as forthright: "Quite frankly, it is really bad," he wrote.
Every other publisher replied with the same message: "Don't call us and we will never call you."
The big manuscript became a door stopper until it faded and tore and finally died of heartbreak and too much sex.
So what's the morale of this sad tale of low literature?
If you scorn Jackie Collins' naughty and simple style as so easy anyone could do it, think again.