Cleo Virginia Andrews, better known as V.C. Andrews (June 6, 1923 December 19, 1986), was an American author best known for Flowers in the Attic, a novel infamous for its portrayal of BrotherSister Incest. She wrote several sequels and produced other novels up until her death in 1986.
She has since become perhaps equally notorious for the manner in which her work has Outlived Its Creator. The real Virginia Andrews published only seven books in her lifetime. After her death, however, a ghostwriter (Andrew Neiderman) quietly took over at her publishers' behest, and has continued to churn out novels under the Andrews pen-name for decades ever since. Quite where the lines are drawn between any genuine unfinished manuscripts he may have completed, works "inspired by" her ideas but otherwise his own, and works entirely plucked from his imagination, remains officially unacknowledged. More than seventy books by him have appeared under the brand, though — over ten times more than the original author ever managed, and unabating even as the centenary of her birth approaches. It is widely agreed by V.C. Andrews fans that Only the Creator Does It Right, and there is a particular disdain for Neiderman.
The original books she actually wrote are something of a Cult Classic.
- Gods of Green Mountain (completed in 1972; unpublished during her lifetime; released as an e-book in 2004)
- Dollanganger Series
- My Sweet Audrina (1982)
- The Casteel Series
- Heaven (1985)
- Dark Angel (1986)
- Dollanganger Series prequel Garden of Shadows (1987)
- My Sweet Audrina sequel Whitefern (2016)
- The Casteel Series (1985-1990)
- Cutler Series (1990-1993)
- Landry Series (1994-1996)
- Logan Series (1996-1999)
- Orphans series (1998)
- The Wildflowers series (1999)
- Hudson Series (2000-2007)
- Celeste series (2004-2005)
Tropes that apply to her:
- Moustache de Plume: The reason she was Only Known by Initials. She said in a 1985 interview:Virginia: The publisher sent me a copy of the galley of Flowers in the Attic, and it read "Virginia Andrews." Then, when they sent me the cover, it said, "V.C. Andrews." So I immediately called up and complained. And they said, "It was a big mistake by the printers, and we can't change it—we've already printed a million copies of the cover and it's too expensive to throw them away." Then later, I learned the truth. It was an editorial decision. Men don't like to read women writers, and they wanted men to read the book. They wanted to prove to men that women could write differently—that we don't write only about ribbons and frills and kisses and hugs, that we can really write something strong.
- Outside of the US, where V.C. Andrews was marketed toward women, the books were published under the name "Virginia Andrews." Ironically, since her cult status has risen after her death, some of these foreign editions have changed the name to her more familiar (in the US) initials.
Tropes common in her works:
- Big Fancy House: Foxworth Hall in the Dollanganger Series, Farthinggale Manor in the Casteel Series, and Whitefern in My Sweet Audrina.
- Big, Screwed-Up Family: The Foxworths are slightly ahead of the Tattertons in terms of incest and insanity, but only because they've been at it longer. Yet the Adares of My Sweet Audrina manage to pack a lot of crazy in a fairly small house.
- Domestic Abuse: Another thing she is famous for. While her plots may be soap-opera like, her depictions of abuse—and even more, people's reactions to said abuse—are chilling realistic.
- Troubled Abuser: There is often a cycle of abuse in place, and many of the abusers are victims themselves.
- Dysfunction Junction:
- Earn Your Happy Ending: The classic Andrews trope is "young girl in desperate situation dreams of better life; works, struggles, and schemes to achieve her dreams; finds out her dreams are actually even worse than the life she just escaped; repeat for five books." The lucky V.C. Andrews heroines make peace with their pasts, but rarely do they reach a happily-ever-after.
- Generational Saga: Both the Dollanganger and Casteel series.
- Gothic Horror: Andrews was credited for codifying the "children in peril" genre, in which children are frequently the victims or prisoners of their own caregivers, often with lots of Gothic trappings (grand, labyrinthine houses, convoluted family secrets, and so forth).
- Incest Is Relative: She is most famous for her works featuring incest.
- "Reading Is Cool" Aesop: It's not merely that Cathy and Heaven both love reading, but more specifically, that they both use the escapism of stories as a way to cope. Virginia was a writer and book lover, after all.
- Shock Party: There's a party, everyone is gathered to celebrate, and then disaster strikes. Maybe the person whose birthday it is never arrives to the party. Maybe the guests don't arrive. Maybe someone makes a scene. But almost every party in her books goes awry in one way or another.
- Theme Naming: The book collections have names with a noticeable theme: The Dollanganger Series has floral names ("Flowers", "Petals", "Thorns," "Seeds," "Garden") while The Casteel Series uses angelic themes ("Heaven", "Angel," "Fallen," "Paradise"). The ghostwritten works continue this naming convention (the Landry Series, for example, is jewel-themed: "Ruby", "Pearl", "Gold", etc).