Assuming the V.C. Andrews Mantle
Twenty-nine years ago, my agent, who was also V.C. Andrews’s agent, changed my life. “We would like you to think about finishing Virginia Andrews’s latest novel,” she said. “She’s too sick to do so.”
The idea was at first overwhelming. V.C. Andrews was a major worldwide publishing success. I was, at the time, a high school English and creative writing teacher who graded papers and wrote thrillers, but I had never before been asked to write in another author’s voice. I attacked the challenge with all my research skills and spent hours reading and rereading Virginia Andrews’s works until I understood what made her writing distinct. Her vocabulary and syntax, images, and dialogues were truly special.
In those days I wrote on two different computers, one for my own thrillers and one for V.C. Andrews’s novels. When I turned to the V.C. Andrews computer, I was able to build from the nature of the characters in FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC, HEAVEN, and MY SWEET AUDRINA and find the voice I needed to continue stories in her style. My wife had already been a major V.C. Andrews fan. I could see from her enthusiasm and love of the work that this seemingly daunting task was indeed something special. I had a built-in critic to read my efforts.
FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC and MY SWEET AUDRINA had the most influence on me. These two novels had established her unique style—her syntax, distinct vocabulary, and imagery that reflects the feelings and visuals of an innocent young girl. There’s a softness and often a longing for love that you can sense even in the older women.
Just as important, these two novels clearly define the V.C. Andrews heroine: a young female searching almost desperately for love and family. Her characters speak and see the world through what she herself called “a kaleidoscope of emotions.” No one more clearly illustrates this than Cathy in FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC, entering adolescence but trapped in an artificial world just when she needs her mother’s love and guidance.
The unique characteristics of the V.C. Andrews heroine enable me to find and create V.C. Andrews plots in an ever-more-complicated world, especially when it comes to familial love and sibling relationships. Her legacy lives on in a world that recognizes, welcomes, and cheers for the daughters and sisters of Cathy and Audrina.
As I was technically working for the Andrews family I became friends with them, and eventually we became each other’s second family. They helped me to further understand Virginia and why she chose to write what she did. Their compliments on and opinions of the work have always been important to me.
This has and continues to be a wonderful literary journey, whether it travels the publishing world or Hollywood for adaptations. Becoming V.C. Andrews has helped me develop into a far better writer with my own thrillers as well.
I work to keep her legacy alive.