Wearing multiple pieces of diamond jewelry, Jackie Collins sparkles as she steps into the bar of the Plaza Athenee hotel in New York.
Beginning with her first novel in 1968, Collins has sold over 400 million books. Her bestsellers, she notes by way of explanation, “have a lot of good looking people and a lot of sex.”
Collin’s most recent novel, “Goddess of Vengeance,” follows the protagonist of her last eight books, Lucky Santangelo, as she and her young, successful and attractive children experience highs and lows known only to the super rich (and to Collins’s millions of readers).
Tarmy: This is your 28th book. How have you managed to be so prolific?
Collins: I wake up at 7 a.m., go straight to my desk and write one sentence. That’s the secret.
You’ve got to start immediately. Then I have coffee, get dressed and everything, but I’ve already started to write so I’m lured back to my desk. I’ll write until about 5 p.m. and then I’ll indulge my addiction, TiVo.
Tarmy: You’ve been writing about sex, money, celebrity and power for the last four decades. How do you think they’ve changed since your first book was published?
Collins: If you look at the headlines today, nothing has changed that much. The first book I wrote is still totally relevant. I say that with not much modesty because I know it’s true.
Tarmy: You pioneered the idea of a strong, successful woman. Do you think that that kind of advocacy is still necessary in 2011?
Collins: Absolutely. Women still need role models. All you have to do is put on TMZ and see girls falling out of nightclubs and into cars with rock stars because they think this is going to get them a career.
Tarmy: Well, sometimes it does.
Collins: I’m sure that there are more sex tapes out there that haven’t made the girl a star than those that have.
Tarmy: Much of “Goddess of Vengeance” is set in Las Vegas. Do you go there often?
Collins: Oh, I love Las Vegas. I like to go for 24 hours. I take a limo, stop for an In-N-Out Burger on the way, see a show, go to a restaurant, buy a piece of jewelry, gamble, and come home. It’s the greatest.
Tarmy: Do you handle your own money?
Collins: I have a very good business manager who is also my best friend. She’s a very attractive and smart blond woman.
When we go out, if I want to buy a piece of jewelry, I’ll turn to her and say, “Is this OK?” and she’ll always reply, “Go ahead.” But I like to be safe. I played the stock market for a while, but it’s like gambling, legitimate gambling.
Tarmy: So now what do you invest in?
Collins: I invest in bonds and I have some houses that I rent out. I would much rather do that than take a risk on the stock market or get involved with someone like Madoff.
Tarmy: Do you have any plans for the rest of your stay in New York?
Collins: I like to go antique shopping -- I’m into Art Deco and Art Nouveau. And I always like to visit the three Bs: Bloomingdale’s, Bergdorf, and Barneys.
Tarmy: Do you have a favorite city?
Tarmy: Where do you stay when you’re in London?
Collins: I love the Dorchester. It’s sort of an old English establishment hotel.
Tarmy: They have a wonderful tea service.
Collins: Oh, don’t talk to me about the tea at the Dorchester. I love it so much.
Tarmy: Well, you know the tea service here is also phenomenal. Have you ever had it?
Collins: What? Are you serious? I have not. We’ll have the tea service for two, though how I’m going to eat dinner tonight is now beyond me.
Tarmy: You are nothing if not a resourceful woman.
Collins: Yes, I’ll force myself.
(James Tarmy writes for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)
To contact the writer on this story: James Tarmy in New York: Jtarmy@gmail.com.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at email@example.com.