Interview with The Complete VCA
By Lorraine Elgar
Since 1995, The Complete V.C. Andrews website has been the one stop shop for any Virginia Andrews fan wanting to know more. If there’s anything Jennifer, the webmistress and queen of VCA, doesn’t know then it isn’t worth knowing!
The Complete VCA website is jam packed with info, meticulous research and amazing exclusives.
If I sound like a gushing fan its because I am!
Way before Facebook and Social Media, Jennifer was there to provide us all with our fix and answer our questions.
I was personally honoured when she offered to post my Dollanganger Time Lines on her site and am still extremely flattered as I respect her and her work so much. To me, it was a dream come true.
It is also an honour to be able to interview Jennifer for Attic Secrets and I thank her so much for giving us all this opportunity.
Hey Jennifer, again, thanks so much for agreeing to this interview.
Thanks for asking!
Firstly, Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you discovered V C Andrews?
Well, I’m a very private person. That’s why I don’t publish my full name or picture anywhere. As you know, my name is Jennifer. I turned 40 last December (yikes!). I live in Midway, Utah, a small resort town in the Wasatch Mountains. I’ve been a junior high school secretary for the last 10 years, but before that, I was a jewelry store business manager and gemologist. Quite a job change, I know… that’s what a recession will do! I’ve been married for 13 years–my husband is a talented musician by night, and a tech nerd and British car enthusiast by day. We don’t have any kids of our own, but I have three (soon to be four) beautiful nieces.
I started reading V.C. Andrews in the mid 80’s, when I was about 12. My friend told me about “Grandmother’s rules,” and I was hooked. For the longest time, her books were the only ones I would read… and I’d read them over and over and over again. They were my teenage girl escape. I was hooked all the way through the Landry series. But then I started to lose interest during the Logan series. That’s when the books seemed to change to a more “young adult” audience (Virginia’s original books–Dollanganger, Casteel, and My Sweet Audrina–were written for adults). I found myself simply outgrowing the new books. With that said, I’m a loyal fan of Virginia Andrews herself, and the books she wrote. She was an amazingly talented woman, and I created The Complete V.C. Andrews website to honor her.
Your site was first published in 1995. What inspired you to create it?
In the early 90’s, the Internet was still fairly new. At that time, I had been “modeming” and participating in online bulletin boards–a very early form of online chatting–for a few years. Then the World Wide Web appeared and I had to be part of it! V.C. Andrews was my favorite author, and I wanted to create a fan website devoted to her and her books. I taught myself HTML code and the rest is history. For a long time, people thought The Complete V.C. Andrews was an official website, which was super flattering! Twenty years later, my website is still free of ads, and I don’t receive any payment to run it. I do get a teeny tiny commission from selling books on my website via Amazon Associates, and that helps pay for the web hosting and domain fees. When it comes down to it, The Complete VCA is my hobby and I do it simply for the VCA fans’ (and my own) enjoyment.
I’m getting ready to unveil a huge update of The Complete V.C. Andrews. Gone is the black background and the graphic titles, making the website more functional on portable devices and printers. I simplified by trimming the number of pages, I consolidated content, and re-organized. I’ve gone through every page and did some editing–I added new info, deleted outdated info, and re-worked layout. There are still a few things that need to be done, like the international cover galleries. That’s a huge project that, unfortunately, keeps getting put off. I also need to re-do the family trees and do some other fixes here and there. My goal is to have it all done by the end of summer. I hope my visitors enjoy the changes, and I always welcome suggestions and comments.
As previously mentioned, it is a hugely vast and respected site all through the fandom but also from people close to Virginia and in the publishing world.
How did your contacts come about? Through your extensive research or did they contact you?
My goal has always been to be respectful of the Andrews family. I respected their privacy and I worked really hard to keep the site factual, so as to not upset them or the publisher. I didn’t actively look for contacts, they all found me. Whether it be to correct something on my website, to offer new information, or to help promote the books. I’ve heard from Andrews family members, Simon & Schuster contacts, people who used to work with Virginia, and of course, Andrew Neiderman. Not to mention lots of fellow VCA fans who have provided my website with tons of great information. I am so grateful to everyone who has contributed.
How do you feel about the resurgence of interest in Virginia’s work?
When I first started reading V.C. Andrews, the books were very taboo. I was very careful to not let my mom know what the books were really about (even though she was an avid Stephen King reader). V.C. Andrews seemed like my own little secret. But now with over 70 books in the “franchise” (I hate that word) and an increasing number of movies, the secret is definitely out! For the most part, it’s great. But to be honest, I do have mixed feelings. Being part of the “old school” fandom, I worry that new readers who are discovering her through the ghostwritten books and the Lifetime movies aren’t getting the full V.C. Andrews Experience. My one word of advice for newbies is to read the books in publication order, starting with Flowers in the Attic. Start with HER books, then move on from there. Does that make me a VCA snob? Probably. :-]
You’re known to be incredibly supportive to other fans and also new groups appearing online – how do you feel about these new groups and forums?
With social media, fans all across the globe are getting together to discuss all things VCA. And that’s wonderful! Sadly, with new fans and new groups comes competition. Everyone wants to be the first to post something, to have the most Likes, the most members, etc.
I admit, in the early days, I was very possessive of the information and pictures on my website. If I saw them used on another site, I wrote passive-aggressive emails and posted messages on my website about stealing. It was so frustrating to see my hard work out there with other people’s names on it. Then, one day, I realized that I was putting way too much effort into policing other people’s websites, into being the first and best. I wasn’t spending enough time making my website a place where all VCA fans could come for information and to share. Sure, I still get frustrated when I see my stuff out there, but I’m more relaxed now. :-]
It’s all about respecting others and their opinions, about citing sources and giving credit where credit is due. There shouldn’t be any competition when it comes to V.C. Andrews fans. At the end of the day, all VCA fans are important, they all serve a purpose… to promote our favorite author. We all love the late, great Virginia Andrews and her unparalleled legacy of novels. And that is something we can all share.