Blockbuster best-selling author Jackie Collins has lived a fascinating life.
Her legendary career penning fiction novels about the glamorous lives of Hollywood's rich, famous and infamous has spanned decades. Collins' nearly 30 novels featuring a total of about 1,000 characters have sold more than 400 million copies.
Collins' introduction to Hollywood was far from the typical story.
As she tells it, she was thrown out of school in her native England when she was 15 years old. Her parents gave her an ultimatum: "reform school or Hollywood."
"You know, I thought for a few minutes, I had a sister, a movie star in Hollywood and I [said] 'I think I'll take Hollywood.' And so I wrote about it when I got there. I always knew I was going to be a writer," Collins said on "Good Morning America" this morning.
Collins, now 72, even tried her hand at acting.
"I considered myself an out of work writer. So I was just doing it for research. I was always cast as the Italian girl. And if you blink you missed me. It was fun," Collins said.
She explained that acting helped inform her writing because she was "learning about the business from both sides."
"When I write my books people know that they are getting the real truth and not the front page of the tabloid, because I know every side of it," Collins said.
After selling millions of copies, clearly that strategy has worked. She says her secret is that she has never been out of print.
"I get a lot of young readers, they come to me when they are like 15, they come to my Twitter account or they come to my Facebook and they [say], 'you know I stole my mother's copy and I read it under the covers and it was so much fun and now I love reading and I am going to read all your books,'" Collins said. "And then they go back and they read all the 26 books and so it just keeps going. It kind of balloons, it's great."
Writing is Collins' Passion
Describing what life was like for the wealthy both on and beneath the surface, she wrote a string of books, among them the blockbuster sellers "Chances," "Lucky" and "Hollywood Wives," which became an ABC miniseries.
She has also become a Hollywood player in her own right. Several of her novels have been made into films and she has written some of the screenplays.
Her latest book, "Poor Little B**** Girl," is due to be released today. It is a racy romance with ambition, political intrigue and Hollywood relationships thrown into the mix.
The book focuses on a Senator who becomes involved with his beautiful assistant. But she then becomes pregnant and mysteriously vanishes.
Collins says she gets inspiration from recent political scandals.
Don't Take Hollywood Too SeriouslyOne of the most important things Collins said she has learned is to not take Hollywood too seriously.
"I find myself like an anthropologist crawling through the jungles of Hollywood watching what goes on. Because I was born in England, I always pretended I was American, I had this kind of feeling that I wanted to be in America and I wanted to be in Hollywood and yet I was never intimidated by any of it," Collins said.
One of the reasons Collins believes her books have been successful is because they have a sense of humor that appeals to the audience.
"When I got [to Hollywood] I could watch things and I could write about them. And I could do it with a sense of humor," Collins said. "And I think that is why people like my books because they have a sense of humor."