So there is, literally, a V.C. Andrews formula. We all know V.C. Andrews is dead, right? The family estate hired a ghostwriter to continue her legacy (of torrid novels about incest) and I’m pretty sure he (Andrew Neiderman) works off a formula. Or did. I stopped reading V.C. Andrews novels after the Hudson series… or, in the middle of the Hudson series… It was definitely after the mini-series, Wildflowers and Orphans, which I did read, and which broke the strict formula of the earlier series, and the newer books coming out now seem to be shorter series with only 2 or 3 books… still the same torrid novels about incest, however! Some things never change 🙂
Anyway, I do not have the official formula here, just my own:
Begin with a young girl, just blossoming into puberty. Name her something that is also a word, and also usually a natural element – this will be the title of the first book. Be sure you can spin her name in a series of metaphoric titles for the next 4 novels!
- Heaven (Casteel series)
- Dawn (Cutler series)
- Ruby (Landry series)
- Melody (Logan series)
- Butterfly, Crystal, Brooke, Raven (Orphans series)
- Misty, Star, Jade, Cat (Wildflowers series)
- Rain (Hudson series)
- Cinnamon, Ice, Rose, Honey (Shooting Stars series)
- Willow (DeBeers series)
- Robin, Teal (Broken Wing series)
*It is worth noting that of the series actually written by V.C. Andrews herself, this does not hold true. Cathy (Dollanganger series) and Audrina (My Sweet Audrina) have normal names.
Her mother has died giving birth.
- Heaven & Ruby’s mothers died while giving birth to them.
- Dawn’s mother dies in childbirth when Dawn is a teenager.
She grows up with a poor, yet loving family.
- Dollanganger series – While the family did well enough for themselves, after the father dies the family faces financial ruin.
- Casteel series – Heaven’s family is dirt poor. Her father and stepmother are not exactly loving, but Heaven and her siblings are close and Heaven cares for them like a mother when her parents run off.
- Cutler series – Dawn’s family moves around a lot. They are poor but are very loving.
- Landry series – Ruby lives with her grandmother. They are poor but very loving.
- Logan series – Melody lives with her parents in a poor mining town. They are very loving.
- Hudson series – Rain’s family is poor and hardworking and very loving.
Insert parent death here:
- Dollanganger series – Cathy’s father dies in a car accident
- Casteel series – Heaven’s stepmother leaves a suicide note
- Cutler series – Dawn’s (not real) mother dies
infrom complications from childbirth
- Landry series – Ruby’s custodial grandmother gets sick and dies
- Logan series – Melody’s adoptive father dies in an accident at the mine
- Orphans series – all the girls are orphans
The girl then goes to live with a rich family she never knew she had, due to some family secret.
- Dollanganger series – Cathy and her siblings go to live with their grandparents, who had disowned their mother Corinne after Corinne married her own half-uncle/brother.
- Casteel series – Heaven goes to live with her maternal grandparents
- Cutler series – Dawn goes to live with her biological mother, from whom she had been kidnapped at birth
- Landry series – Ruby goes to live with her biological father, Pierre, who had an affair with Ruby’s mother
- Logan series – Melody’s mother brings her to live with her father’s family, who had disowned him
- Hudson series – Rain goes to live with her biological mother
- DeBeers series – Willow goes to find her wealthy birth family
The women in that family are CRAZY.
- Dollanganger series – Cathy’s mother and grandmother lock the four kids in the attic. The mother hopes to keep the kids secret until her father dies so she can get the inheritance. The
grandmothermother tries to kill them with arsenic.
- Casteel series – Heaven’s grandmother blames Heaven’s mother for her father raping her, and goes crazy
- Cutler series – Dawn’s stepmother Lillian calls her “Eugenia” and makes her work as a maid, Lillian had also arranged for Dawn’s kidnapping
- Logan series – Melody’s uncle is a Bible-thumper
Sprinkle in a little rape or incest – that’s how you get the authentic V.C. Andrews flavor:
- Dollanganger series – Cathy and Chris explore their budding bodies in the attic, and Chris later rapes Cathy after finding that she has kissed her new stepfather. Their parents were also related.
- Casteel series – Heaven has a relationship with her uncle Troy, who is also her mother Leigh’s uncle. Leigh was raped repeatedly by her father, and this was how Heaven was conceived.
- Cutler series – Dawn has a relationship with Philip, who she later discovers is her half-brother. After she breaks up with him, he rapes her. Dawn later marries Jimmy, who she grew up with as siblings.
- Landry series – Ruby has a relationship with Paul, who she later discovers is her half-brother. Ruby’s mother was raped by Paul’s father.
- Logan series – Melody’s mother Haille married her adoptive brother Chester.
Sometimes the families like to sell their children:
- Casteel series – When times are tough, Heaven’s father sells his children off.
- Landry series – After Ruby’s mother has an affair with a rich married man, she gives birth to twins, and sells one for the man to raise as his own with his barren wife.
Don’t forget to end the series with a prequel about the evil stepmother, mother, or grandmother and how she came to be such a cold, cold woman.
- Garden of Shadows is the Dollanganger prequel about Olivia, Cathy & Chris’s grandmother.
- Web of Dreams, the Casteel prequel, is about Leigh, Heaven’s mother.
- Darkest Hour is the Cutler prequel, from Dawn’s evil stepmother Lillian’s point of view.
- Tarnished Gold, the Landry prequel, is Ruby’s mother Gabriel’s POV.
- Olivia is the Logan saga prequel, told by Melody’s evil grandmother.
- Gathering Clouds was a prequel to the Hudson series, although whether or not it was actually released is a mystery to me… I never finished this particular series…
So there we are… And the above are many, many reasons why memes like this one exist:
5 thoughts on “V.C. Andrews: The Formula!”
Hey, really good synopsis and I do agree there is a lot of Mary Sue-ing going on as well as formulaic plots (although strangely they’re addictively entertaining every time). I just wanted to correct a small error I caught early on (SPOILER):
◾Dawn’s mother dies in childbirth when Dawn is a teenager.
Actually Dawn’s adoptive mother (Sally Jean) had already given birth to Fern (the new baby), but died of at out of control illness later own. Obstensibly because the family was dirt poor and couldn’t afford health insurance.
Yes these formulas are tried and tested and true. But they work, as do formulaes for other famous authors (i.e. Jodi Picoult, to name one) – I agree with ‘Skywalker’, the books are entertaining and addictive.
Also like Skywalker, I’d like to point out two small errors with the plot for the Dollanganger Series. With the Arsenic, the grandmother does not try to kill them with it –
Instead it is Chris and Cathys Mother, Corrine, that poisons them; not because she wants to kills them. But instead because she wants to try to get them out into fresh air and hopefully out of the attic but ends up with Cory dying and the other 3 escaping for themselves.
Also we find out in the last book of the series – Garden of Shadows – that the incestuous background and family tree is utterly weird/complicated/confusing/etc.
We find out that Chris/Christoper (Snr) – who is Corrine’s Husband and Chris Jr.s, Cathys, Carries and Cory’s father; is not actually Corrine’s half uncle as depicted in the other books, but is instead Corrine’s half brother.
Corrines father (Malcolm) having had an affair with Alicia who is the mother of Christopher (Snr), Alicia who was also Malcolms Step Mother.
Looking back on that, it makes Christopher Snr both Corrine’s half brother and half uncle.
It it helps any here is a link to the Dollanganger family tree :
I agree that the formulas do work, I still find myself reading these books! I started writing the “formula” posts mostly so I could avoid falling into cliches, or seeing which cliches do work. Not that all formulas are bad!
Also I made corrections to the above… These family trees are so complicated it’s no wonder I made a few errors!
You made one little mistake. Sarah didn’t leave a suicide note. After months of muttering about “getting out of this place” she took her stuff and ran off, leaving a note saying she hated her husband and can’t stand the place. She did say “going where it’s better” but I still say there aren’t any hints that it was a suicide.
I think it’s good that we never hear what happens to her. Tying up EVERY loose end kinda ruins it. (Miss Deale also disappears, I’m guessing she dies in an accident because she definitely would have contacted the children eventually)
I guess I can’t edit my post but one other thing is that Gabrielle didn’t willingly sell her child off. Her family(Mostly her money-hungry father) convinced her that the baby would be better off with rich parents than a poor, unwed, swamp-dwelling mother.