The novel is filled with sex, drugs, and rock & roll, plus intrigue, celebrities, and murder. Well, mostly sex, actually. But the Collins who authored Shameless isn’t Jackie; it’s the singer, Judy, known for her lyrical voice, famous blue eyes, and tireless political stances.
”Basically, I think I’m a writer,” says Collins, curling up with her two Siamese cats in her New York City apartment, which is filled with paintings and pillows and framed letters from her pals Bill and Hillary Clinton. ”Within 24 hours of reading [Shameless], my agent called back and said, ‘I think we have a novel here.”’ (A brief sample: ”The wind howled suddenly, like a terrified soul…the trees in the park below danced like thin puppets in the wind, and dark clouds hunkered close against the skyline. All of a sudden I thought of Dr. Ernest Wheeling, my horrible old shrink. Then I remembered I was having dinner with my lover, Edward, and life wasn’t so bad.”)
Not everyone had such faith in the book, which centers on a music-industry photographer: In the eight years since Collins published her autobiography, Trust Your Heart, and began working on the novel, at least eight versions of Shameless went through three editors and four publishing houses before landing at Pocket Books. Only when it was decided that Collins would release a Shameless CD and attach two tracks to the book’s cover did Pocket decide to print 50,000 copies.
But Collins remains undeterred. Though she still performs 50-something concerts a year, she’s already writing a second novel, planning another album, and hoping to turn Shameless into a screenplay. ”I had my years when I was very out of it,” Collins explains. ”But in the last few years, I’ve been in a very creative state.”