Sunday, 27 September 2015

FAREWELL, JACKIE COLLINS





 

True story: when Jackie Collins succumbed to breast cancer on September 19th I had a dream that day that a different author had died: Judith Krantz of SCRUPLES fame. Woke up in a flash, all confused and tense, wondering why the heck I had dreamt about her passing.  Was this some sort of a premonition, an ESP kind of thing?  I immediately got up and hurried over to my PC to check if my prediction was correct.  It was not—thank God.  So I went back to bed, shaking my head in discouragement for having been such a drama queen—totally clueless to the fact that another grand dame of commercial fiction had just met her maker.
 
Yes, the queen of fluff is gone, kids.  And this sucks—big time.  Like many of you I had spent many hours reading her work, wishing that one day we would meet face to face.  Alas, it was not meant to be.  But I got the next best thing.  We became acquaintances online.  But to tell you the truth, I doubt she really knew who I was.  Because let’s face it, she had millions of fans like moi.  And between writing her many sizzlers and promoting them extensively, she barely had time to socialize with any of us.  Still it felt good getting a quick e-mail from her acknowledging a comment of sort; or being picked at a Q & A live stream during one of her book tours; or the best, having her retweeting me because I blogged about one of her titles or acknowledged one of her adapted films or mini-series.  We may not have been close friends in the real sense of the word but in my mind it felt like we were.  
 
Having been around the block a few times, I occasionally let myself be tempted by other genres (horror mostly).  But because of Collins I always return to my first love: glam fiction. It gives me the extra oomph I need whenever the world seems cold and distant.  And now that she’s gone, I need the escape more than ever. I’ll probably pick up her latest, but before I do that, tell me this: why do we always wait until someone has passed on to finally acknowledge all the good they have brought into our lives?  I mean I could have easily told her how I felt when she was around. I think it would have pleased her, even touched her. Then again, she probably knew it already. I just wonder if she really was aware of how much of an impact she had on people, especially on the gay community.  She was one of the few commercial writers who embraced the gay lifestyle in her work. She made no qualms about it and got a whole new readership in return. Whether this was coming from the heart or a simple use of business acumen (or both) barely matters.  What does is that she was indeed a kick-ass writer and I will miss her dearly.  So here’s to you, Jackie Collins.  Hope they make room for your steamy novels up there.  If not, I’m sure you’ll break the mold—as you always have done.





  
Until next post—Martin



Tuesday, 15 September 2015

OLIVIA GOLDSMITH’S 'FLAVOR OF THE MONTH'




The first time I ever came across an Olivia Goldsmith novel was when I purchased FLAVOR OF THE MONTH in hardcover. It was on discount and I just couldn’t pass it up. I mean look at that sleazy cover.   Right up my alley, I must say. The year was 1994 and I was living at my parent’s place after a row with a rat in my flat’s wall (don’t ask). I read many novels during that brief stay. Perhaps it was a coping mechanism for having returned home with my tail between my legs (wipe that smirk off your face). You see, I didn’t have the greatest relationship with my folks. Not that they are horrible people, au contraire; they have always been present whenever one of us kids was in trouble. But they just are not very demonstrative people. But that’s OK. I understand now, being older and all, that love is shown in many different forms, and being there is one of them.


Anyway, as I was saying, Olivia Goldsmith automatically became a must-read author after I finished FLAVOR OF THE MONTH.  The story centers around three gorgeous newcomers who make it big when their TV show becomes an instant hit (à la CHARLIE’S ANGELS but on motorcycles).  Just like the readers of this novel, they too get caught up into this fast-lane world of lovers, cheaters, users, back-stabbers, and soon all end up paying big time for fame (of course).  The one who suffers the most (at least I thought she did when I read it in ’94) is Texan Sharleen whose naïve streak makes her the most gullible of the three. Her sexual abuse on the Hollywood hills by a bigwig still resonates with me after all these years.  Of course the other two main ladies get plenty of page time of their own but that Texan chick is really what made me turn the pages quicker.

Narrated by a fictional reporter to the stars, the story does nothing but glide along smoothly with many secrets and sins peeled away and one whooper of a revelation that I came to figure out (being an old pro at the game even back then) which will unlikely happen to most of you. The author clearly has a ball keeping up the pace, and although it’s a big-ass book, not once did I feel the plot drag. Rarely comes a novel as perfectly tweaked and tucked as is this one. 
 
How I wish they would have made a miniseries out of it.  It could have been a spectacular two or three-night event à la LACE with lavish settings and costumes, not to mention hot mamas and papas.  But it was not meant to be.  But at least we got to see that same year Goldsmith’s debut novel THE FIRST WIVES CLUB hit the big screen with big fanfares.  10 years later she would pass away from cosmetic surgery complication (kind of ironic knowing that one of her main characters in FLAVOR goes from ugly duckling to swan after numerous procedures).  In addition to those two, she left behind nine more novels which were all grand in their own way.  I’m still trying to go through some of them (so many books so little time) but whatever read comes next, this spotlighted novel will always be held dear to my heart.  It made a big impact on me at that time and I’m sure it will do the same for you given half a chance. 
 

FLAVOR OF THE MONTH is available digitally from Diversion Books.

 

 

 

Until next post—Martin
 
US paperback
UK paperback