A love letter to Jackie Collins

03 July 2015

By Pan Macmillan

Dear Jackie,

I’m writing to say a big thank-you for your novels and the impact they’ve made on me both as a reader and a writer.

When I was growing up I always enjoyed reading fun, escapist fiction and it helped me cope with all kinds of problems. Unfortunately though, I probably enjoyed it a bit too much; it drove me to study for a degree in French and Spanish literature and having to dissect and analyze so many serious, worthy books at university pretty much stripped away my joy in reading.

But then I discovered your novels. A year after graduating I went on holiday to Spain with a few girlfriends and picked up Hollywood Wives. Within minutes I was drooling, gasping and giggling out loud on the beach. What I found was a world filled with charismatic characters, adrenaline-inducing plots, glamorous locations and, of course, eye-bulgingly explicit sex. I was completely blown away. After years of feeling like my batteries had run out, it was as if somebody had plugged me back in again. Since then I’ve rattled through most of your books, from early classics likeAmerican Star through to more recent hits like The Power Trip.

But when I felt ready to write my own fiction at first I allowed myself to be swayed by other people’s expectations. Because I’m bright, everyone assumed I was going to write some kind of literary masterpiece – or at least try to. Which I did. And failed. It just didn’t work – and never felt quite right. So I turned to you for help.

I re-read Hollywood Wives and re-connected with what I’d loved so much about it. Exploring the book again but this time as a wannabe writer, I realized just how much thought you put into plotting and pacing, not to mention cranking up the tension through chapter after chapter. And that’s when it struck me. If you were so intelligent and you were happy to write fun, accessible fiction, then why shouldn’t I?

Feeling emboldened, I went away and wrote my first novel, Shot Through the Heart,a romantic comedy about a Hollywood actress who falls in love with a paparazzi photographer. I didn’t want to imitate your style and found myself writing much more of a love story than I usually read in your novels – and adding my own camp, irreverent humour. Even so, I couldn’t resist including my own little tribute to you in the shape of a character who’s a huge fan of your books. And it worked. When the novel was published, reviewers called it ‘riotous’ and ‘rollicking’ fun and I was thrilled when Elle magazine announced that I was ‘the closest we have to a home-turf Jackie Collins’.

I haven’t looked back since. My second novel, Nothing But Trouble, is published this month and it’s a racy thriller about a British pop star whose wild, rock and roll lifestyle lands her in a situation where everything she's worked so hard for could come crashing down around her. It’s set in London rather than Los Angeles but it includes my first ever sex scenes – and lots of them! I hope you approve. Because guess what? Before I wrote them I re-read some of your raunchiest ever moments. I can’t remember having as much fun – and not just that but I can honestly say that the novel is the one thing in my life that I’m most proud of.

So thanks for the inspiration. Thanks for helping me find my voice as a writer and thanks for giving me so much pleasure as a reader. I’m hoping it will continue long into the future!

Love from your number one fan, Matt Cain x