At 15 years old, I had no idea who I was. Filled with raging hormones, a sullen disposition and an all encompassing struggle to find the real me within, I found salvation in the in the one place I had found it as a child. Books.
I read anything and everything. I went to South Africa with Wilbur Smith. I fell in love with Judy Blume and with each one of these characters I discovered another way of thinking.
Then I stumbled upon a character which, perhaps at that age, I probably shouldn't have.
A little bit controversial, a little bit naughty, contained within a book I hid under my bedcovers in case my Mum found it. Given my penchant for not exactly following the rules I shouldn't have been surprised.
However, in my defence, I had stumbled upon now of the best female characters...ever.
Now this was a woman who knew who she was and didn't take any crap from anyone. She was smart, ambitious and in a world of hoteliers filled with powerful men, she acknowledged them and did her own thing. In relationship she set the tone until the right alpha came along and in living her life she did so with gusto, passion and without comprising who she was.
I loved her and as I grew every summer I would buy the new Jackie Collins especially if it was an addition to the Santagelo novels.
So, when I heard that Jackie Collins had sadly passed away I reacted to the news with genuine sadness. As an author, I loved her work but as a person I had liked her even more.
In interviews, she came across as charming, gracious and humble for the life she lived. With a penchant for revealing that tantalising piece of gossip on the Hollywood circuit, always with a twinkle in her eye.
They don't make them like that anymore.
Then I remembered something I shouldn't have. A singular line in her dedications, a personal message to her three daughters. Words said with such love and determination that as a young girl I took them to heart myself.
"Girls can do anything."
You're damn right they can. Thank you Jackie Collins, this world will sparkle less without you.
And as for me? I'm taking lessons from Lucky again.