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V.C. Andrews Biography

Cleo Virginia Andrews was born on June 6, 1923 in Portsmouth, Virginia. She was one of three children born to William Henry Andrews, a career Navy man who later opened a tool and die shop, and Lillian Lilnora Parker Andrews, a telephone operator. Andrews' family (including brothers, Bill Jr. and Gene) eventually moved to Rochester, New York, but later returned to Portsmouth. Andrews was a very intelligent child who skipped both the third and sixth grade. She also read everything she could get her hands on. She read the entire Bible at seven-years-old and claimed she had read every book in the school library. By 12 she had read most of the classics. While she had begun to write at an early age, her real passion was art. When she was only seven she was sent to junior college art classes. When she was in high school Virginia fell down a staircase and injured hip, an accident that would live with her forever. The fall resulted in the development of bone spurs, which in turn caused arthritis. She had surgery but it was not successful and caused even more problems. She would have to use a wheelchair for the rest of her life. After high school she completed a a four-year correspondence art course. Shortly after her father died the family moved to Missouri, then Virginia moved to Arizona with her mother where she devoted all her time to writing. Her first novel, The God of the Green Mountain (1972) was a science fiction novel that was never published. In the seven years that followed she completed nine novels and about 20 short stories. One short story, "I Slept With My Uncle on My Wedding Night," was published in a magazine. In 1979, after struggling for years, Andrews burst onto the fiction scene with FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC. Originally titled THE OBSESSED, she was told by her publisher to spice it up, so she revised it and retitled it. When she first saw the cover of FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC, Virginia had another shock. Her name had been changed from "Virginia Andrews" to "V.C. Andrews." The publisher decided to mask her gender because they thought that men would not buy horror stories written by women. FLOWERS IN TH ATTIC was an immediate success and she followed it with two more books that continued the story of the Dollanganger family. She also began the Casteel series with HEAVEN (1985) and DARK ANGEL (1986) and also penned her only stand alone novel, MY SWEET AUDRINA (1982). After seven novels, 30 million copies sold worldwide, V.C. Andrews died of breast cancer on December 19, 1986 in Virignia Beach. Even though she did not live to see the release of FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC as a movie she did make a cameo in it-as a maid washing windows. She had also left behind a notebook with synopses for dozens of stories. The Andrews' estate and the publisher not wanting to let her success fade, carefully selected a ghostwriter to expand on her ideas. Andrew Neiderman may had seemed a strange choice (giving he was a man and the audience is mostly teenage girls) but he had been a high school teacher for 23 years, so he knew the audience. Neiderman studied Andrews work and her prose, so he "became" V.C. Andrews. His first work was GARDEN OF SHADOW (1987), the prequel to the Dollanganger series. The book was an instant success which was followed by the last three books in the Casteel series. Then he went to work creating new series not based on any other characters or storylines. For the first four years no one knew. DAWN (1990) was the first book that carried a special letter anouncing the ghostwriter was writing the new novels. Although there has been some controversy over the ghostwriter, most fans don't seem to care. The books still hit the bestsellers list and this is a testament to her spirit.