I realize the golden child has sprung forth from the loins of the world's two most beautiful people (and has been named after my junior high school, no less), but there are far more frivolous issues at hand. For example, it's summertime and thus the time of year when I am suddenly enticed by the magnetic pull of a good trashy V.C. Andrews novel. Ah, there's nothing like lounging by the pool with "Garden of Shadows" or putting your feet up on the porch railing and settling in with "Dark Angel". Even though I've read them all about 900 times, the delicious tackiness stands the test of time and I continue to devour them again and again.
If you've never read one or wrote them off as chicky romance schlock, well, missy, you are missing out on a sinfully delightful treat. There is nothing romantic about V.C.'s books—these are gothic horror novels, full of scandalous secrets, deception, and good old-fashioned incest! Discovery of these wicked, wicked gems at age 12 helped usher me into adulthood—it's thanks to V.C. that I know what a D&C procedure is. The funny thing is that even though V.C. has been dead since like 1986, "she" continues to publish out the ass; there are now 62 V.C. Andrews books on the market, only eight of which are actually written by her. Not that they are well-written by any means, or even really that good—they are just wildly entertaining. Sort of like this blog. And not that they are really that hard to write, as they all follow a pretty standard pattern. Here it is—go ahead and write your own, why dontcha?
1. Start off with a beautiful, happy family with beautiful, happy children, including the headstrong heroine, who is on the doorstep of puberty.
2. Suddenly, a tragic event occurs that rips the family apart—of course, no one is prepared for this tragic event, particularly the weak, self-centered matriarch, and the heroine is forced to grow up too fast.
3. The family is separated, and Heroine is thrown into a pure living hell situation (locked in attic, sold into slavery, sent away to live with weird, abusive relatives, etc.).
4. Someone (usually a family member) becomes inappropriately obsessed with Heroine. They have illicit sex, resulting in pregnancy.
5. Baby (a.) is born in secrecy under horrific conditions, (b.) is miscarried under horrific conditions, or (c.) is stillborn as monster baby with two heads under horrific conditions.
6. Heroine's true love discovers indescretions with inappropriately obsessed suitor and the resulting spawn. Someone says, "Damn you to hell."
7. Heroine, who is normally sweet and mild-mannered, finally snaps and serves smackdown to person that has imprisoned her in living hell situation and embarks on quest to find loved ones.
8. In the end, Heroine usually finds loved ones, but things just aren't the same. The conclusion of Book One brings a melancholy sense of hope that Heroine can live a happy and stable life...someday.
That's pretty much it. But next we have the sequels and prequels, which follow even simpler formulas. In fact, the second book can be wrapped up in just THREE easy steps:
1. Heroine is once again separated from True Love when he has illicit sex with the wily, cunning skank (usually a sister, stepmother or other jealous relative) that is out to get Heroine. Pregnancy results.
2. Heroine is once again imprisoned/taken advantage of by a different inappropriately obsessed family member.
3. Heroine escapes imprisonment and finds True Love, who wants her back, but dies tragically in some kind of freak accident (fire, circus accident, faulty brakes, etc.). But not before Heroine discovers she's pregnant with True Love's child.
On to the third book, which tends to be transitional and thrown out to capitalize on the success of the previous two. Luckily, this only requires two steps:
1. Heroine is finally happy again until a mysterious stranger with a deep, dark secret about her past moves next door and brainwashes Heroine's child against her.
2. Mysterious Stranger (who turns out to be conniving family member presumed dead in first book) dies in freak accident that Heroine saves brainwashed child from, but it's too late. The kid is fucked up and Heroine's horrible secret has been revealed to live on for eternity.
And the fourth book? Only one step needed: it's always a prequel that reveals that the Heroine and her True Love were actually brother and sister all along.
I highly recommend the "true" V.C. books for those just starting out. The first is the Flowers in the Attic series, about the pretty, blonde Dollenganger kids who are forced to live in a dingy attic by their selfish, sociopath mother and abusive, psycho-christian grandmother; the subsequent movie version features Kristy Swanson as the heroine "Cathy" and Nurse Ratchet turns on the charm as evil "Grandmother." Next up is the Heaven series, which stars a poor hillbilly girl with an evil family and the "city boy" who loves her, and "My Sweet Audrina", V.C.'s only stand-alone novel, about a little girl living in the shadow of her dead sister. This one is probably my favorite: Audrina has to deal with a super-bitchy cousin who makes her life hell, a legless neighbor who rides around on a cart, a crazy aunt who hates her, and a profoundly retarded sister that she is forced to take care of. Yeah, it's all kinds of awesome.
I'm not ashamed: I LOVE V.C.! She made loads of cash from trash...I want to be just like her.