Lucky Lady 

Jackie Collins: coming to a bookstore (and casino) near you.

It isn't every day that an author inspires a slot machine. But in the case of mega-best-selling novelist Jackie Collins, that day was Saturday, June 23rd — the same day Collins talked to the Flyer by phone from her room at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. The big occasion: the launch date of Collins' latest book, Drop Dead Beautiful (St. Martin's Press). The honors set for the afternoon: the official announcement that it was Jackie Collins Day in Vegas. She'd be receiving a key to the city, and Harrah's was unveiling a set of slot machines featuring Drop Dead Beautiful. No need, however, for formalities on the morning of the 23rd. "Call me Jackie" were the first words out of Collins' mouth. Here's what else the Flyer heard before the author of Hollywood Wives, Hollywood Husbands, Hollywood Kids, and Hollywood Divorces heads to Davis-Kidd and Horseshoe casino for a set of Mid-South booksignings.

Flyer: In Drop Dead Beautiful, your leading lady is once more Lucky Santangelo, a woman who possesses, according to one admirer, "the three B's in abundance — Brains, Beauty, and Balls." What's the reason Lucky's back?

Jackie Collins: My readers were demanding it! I have a Web site, JackieCollins.com, and fans are always writing, "Oh, we love this book and we love that book, but please bring back Lucky Santangelo." Why? She's an inspiration. She does all the things women would like to do and don't quite have the nerve to do. She says all the things women would like to say and don't quite get away with saying.

You get away with it too.

I've lived in Los Angeles for 20 years. I've got lots of stories to tell. But if there's one question fans always ask it's: "Do people in Hollywood come up to you mad because they recognize themselves in one of your books?" I say, "No. They recognize their worst enemies."

Any differences between the Hollywood of 20 years ago and today?

One important difference: You have people now who are famous for not doing anything at all. There's also a lot women in Hollywood who are married to younger men. But even if it's just a small age difference, it bugs them because these women are not quite sure it's okay. It's always the old geezers with girls 40 years younger, like James Woods' relationship with a 20-year-old. If Woods were a woman, there would be an outcry.

You're about to cross the country on a booksigning tour, but you're including not only bookstores but casinos too. You may be setting a trend here.

You want people to know your book is out there, and casinos are a great place to do it. I get to meet my readers. They love it. I love it. And in Tunica, in addition to signing books, answering questions, and unveiling the Drop Dead Beautiful slot machine, we'll be doing makeovers. Dress designer Pat Kerr of Memphis will be showing her gowns. She married a friend of mine, John Tigrett.

I'm looking forward to Memphis too ... home of Elvis, but I've never been to Graceland. I hope I can go. But I was in Memphis once before — to promote my book, Chances. A funny thing happened, though. I was at my hotel and asked for a wakeup call. When I picked up the phone the next morning, there was the voice of a country singer. I'm not sure of his name. Porter ... Wagoner? I thought, What did I do last night?

Speaking of what people do at night, during the day, whenever ... Drop Dead Beautiful has its share of sex scenes. Is there a line you won't cross?

Anything to do with cruelty to children, anything sexual to do with children. I will never touch that.

Care to touch on the writing process?

I write in long hand, not on a computer, and what you see is what you get. I don't plan ahead. I never have the story mapped out. I sit down each day with my characters, and they take me on a trip. No wonder people say to me, "I couldn't put your book down." I say, "I couldn't put it down while writing it."

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