f0zKg0J4zFLYz-Yq0aednQVqREE Once Upon a Prologue: For I think of us more as flowers in the attic...
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Friday, March 18, 2011

For I think of us more as flowers in the attic...

I was born premature by three months and my mother taped herself reading me stories, and when she came to sit with baby me in the hospital, scared because she didn't know if I'd be healthy enough to come home soon, she'd play the tapes to me.  She read to me all the time when I was a child, and by the time I was five, I took a book in and read it to my kindergarten class. 

From there, an obsession was born. 

I love books.  I love the smell of old books, and the weight of them in my hands, as I turn the pages.  I love the thrill of deciding to buy a book from a new, unheard of author - and then the even greater thrill of loving the book.  I love re-reading old favorites, and remembering favorite passages before I come upon them.  I love that I can close my eyes and watch a place an author has described bloom, vivid in my mind.  I love letting books carry me away, and letting them change me in little ways. 

I think that's something I want to talk about some here: authors whose stories so impressed and moved me that they literally altered the way I perceived books from then on.  It's happened several times, in different genres, and at various points in my life.  And it always stuns me, coming across that amazing author, who touches your heart and shakes you up, and challenges you.

Today's is V.C. Andrews.

I read Dawn first, not Flowers in the Attic as most people probably did.  To this day, I get mixed reactions when I mention the author's name - some fascinated as I try to describe her gothic tales, some confused, but they all listen, and maybe that's the main thing. 

I had never seen a book like Dawn.  It had what I would later learn is called a keyhole cover.  A scared blonde girl peeked out of it, and as I read the prologue, I instantly knew I was reading something totally foreign and fantastic. I finished the book, and realized there was a sequel, and practically ran to Wal-Mart.  This was in...1999 and they had an entire shelf of V.C. Andrews books.  I let out a sound so high-pitched only dogs could hear it when I saw how many other books there were. 

I went through the Cutler series in no time, and moved on to the Dollanganger series.  Then My Sweet Audrina, then the Casteel series.  Then the Landry series, and the Logan family series.  I was lost to these stories.  These girls, who went through hell, and triumphed.  Who found love, despite all obstacles.  Who never, ever gave up, who struggled through life's tragedies and family secrets.  Each story spun a dark web. 

Eventually, the ghost-writer who took over writing the books after Virginia Andrew died lost his touch, at least in my mind.  I stopped reading the newer books about five or six years ago.  But I will always cherish the early books.  For someone who was used to Judy Blume and Sweet Valley High books, V.C. Andrews was another world entirely.  I am sure my 25 year old self would balk at the books if I re-read them, would probably consider them an affront to feminism.  Maybe I haven't re-read them in so long because I want to keep my memories of them intact.  I roleplay several VCA characters, one of who I have made so entirely my own that I know I couldn't re-read the ghost-written VCA novels he was in. 

Regardless, I will always smile when I think of the adventures I had reading V.C. Andrews novels, and when I think of my favorites: Web of DreamsFlowers in the AtticMy Sweet AudrinaDawn.  I started to grow as a writer and as a reader thinks to her genre-challenging stories, to push myself in my own writing.  And later, I met my best friend through a V.C. Andrews roleplay. 

And I remembered to always, always dream.

It is so appropriate to color hope yellow, like that sun we seldom saw.  And as I begin to copy from the old memorandum journals that I kept for so long, a title comes as if inspired.  Open the Window and Stand in the Sunshine.  Yet, I hesitate to name our story that.  For I think of us more as flowers in the attic. 


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