By Writing Women Who Kick Ass, Jackie Collins was the Ultimate Lady Boss

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“I write about the sort of women who do not get their asses kicked. They are the ones who kick ass,” – Jackie Collins.

Many of you have never read a word of Jackie Collins, but I guarantee you’ve read or watched dozens of television shows and books that were inspired by her writing. Have you ever watched a soap opera? Do you love Cookie from Empire? Cookie, with her hardscrabble upbringing, smart mouth, rise to fame, epic badass-ness and generous leopard-print would have been a classic Collins character.

Jackie Collins died yesterday at age 77 after secretly battling breast cancer for six years, during which time she wrote five more books and never stopped being her own Lady Boss. Collins wrote 32 books and all 32 ended up on the New York Times bestseller list. Why? Because Collins’ characters own it, totally. There’s no better representation of this than Lucky Santangelo, the dangerously bad daughter of mob boss Gino Santangelo, who starred in 9 Collins novels.

“Lucky is the woman who inspires other women. I wanted to create a woman who was really strong and bold and ballsy…I wanted someone who could do everything a man could do. I wanted to write a really strong-female character who was not just a sex symbol.”

Sandra Bullock starred as Lucky during a TV miniseries, but Collins recently said Angelina Jolie would be her dream casting for the character, since Jolie was a wild child who settled down (or up), to become a matriarch who runs her own company and wields a tremendous amount of of power.

Collins shocked the world with her racy novels, with her first book banned in Australia because of the bold sex scenes. Naturally, during the run of 50 Shades of Grey, Collins was frequently asked to comment on the risque blockbuster. While complimenting E.L. James for selling “a bleep-ton of books,” Collins said she was not impressed by a heroine who was a simpering submissive in the bedroom, boardroom or anywhere else.

Collins lived a life that was totally glamorous, partying with five generations of Hollywood actors and executives. But one reason her novels remained popular and vibrant is because she remained plugged in to what was of the moment (she recently discussed her love of Pinterest and LL Cool J‘s abs), and never gave in to the idea that young people were useless.

Jackie Collins novels are read by just about everybody, from prison inmates to teenage girls. She created positive and diverse gay characters long before it was hip or common to do so. “Some have bigger parts than others, but I like to write about all colors, all identities, all sexualities – gay, straight, whatever. I write characters that I see in my own life.” And it was a life that included people of all walks life.

Above all, Collins was a model for never forgetting her roots. She was famous for reaching out to her fans, was excited to respond to their inquiries on Twitter and and befriended several young people who wanted to break into writing. Collins never forgot that it was her readers, not celebrities, who made her famous.

Rest in peace, Lady Boss.

Alex is a lawyer and opinionated.

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