For years there were whispers and hints of VCA s unpublished work , for over 30 years fans were desperate to find out if the rumours were true …To get their hands on what soon became the holy grail to any VCA fan.
Last month ,
AtticSecrets have been lucky enough for Cleo to have written and shared with us exactly how she went about tracking down these documents and how it felt looking at these extremely rare findings.
Heres her story :
” I was asked to write this all down. It started in January 2015 when I wrote a post to the web sight the Lost Angels of V.C. Andrews where I am a very happy moderator on. The post was on the different way we collect her books. Even then I had always wanted to do something for V.C. Andrews fans something BIG. Neisha (a.k.a. Deep Thought) told me about Howard Gotlieb archives she sent me the link. She also mentioned an unpublished manuscript called Where the Green Grass Grows (Now it is known as Where the Greener Grass Grows but that comes later.) that they had. Which nothing, not even the estate mentioned.
“How could this be?” I wondered. “Is it a manuscript that maybe was published under a different name? The biggest kept secret? So of course I had to find a way to check all this out.
Not only this manuscript but a few other little goodies that were also mentioned Rosenthaila, a notebook, also a poem and a song. I was intrigued.
I remembered a friend who lived in Rhode Island and she was an archivist . Robin Alario.Best archivist ever. I was planning on meeting her sometime anyway although she was planning on coming to Chicago. I told her if she heard of the Howard Gotlieb archive in Boston University. As it tuned out her mother
and sister where both alumni of B.U. so she knew her way around. She was very eager to help me so I could find out what she did and I always wondered what the archives were like anyway. Hollywood rarely gives a modern look at the archives. I see old men in front of wooden stands reading yellow parchment and stroking their beards. I was way off let me tell you.
She sent me a form to fill out but I needed help. She knew what was needed she was able to fill out the rest. They only needed a week to run this through and I couldn’t leave the house until my son was out of school and in camp. So I made plans on an airline I figured I could get away four days three nights. We worked with our secludes. Then came the worst waiting,
I hate waiting. Talking with Robin making sure all was ready she told me she couldn’t send in the request until summer school started for the students at B.U. so I was also waiting for that. While she did this I attempted to find out a way to get a photocopy of Where The Green Grass Grows. I will not bore you with the list of people I wrote to. Most didn’t even answer (one was dead so he has an excuse.) but the rest either didn’t respond and the few who did had no wiggle room. I guess I was pretty sure I wouldn’t get a way. But I knew I could sleep better at night knowing I tried.
I tried not to think about it. I was like trying to avoid a 400-pound gorilla in the room. Every time, I had time, my hubby could find me with my V.C. Andrews cabinet open and me staring into it like I was completing crawling in.
“Are you going to be like this all the time before your trip?” He asked once.
Then came a minor tragedy I can look back now and smile at my absurdity but at the time I was in a corner grabbing my shoulders and rocking back and forth.
Robin was having trouble getting the archive to email her with a conformation that they would pull the stuff. Two weeks passed finally last minute there was a success. I was so overjoyed I crawled out of my corner.
V.C. Andrews mentions in her article that maybe God is just an author who uses us as his characters. My trip there she might be right. I packed up everything I would need for the trip (two months before) a notebook with yellow lab puppies on the cover…awww and four pencils I had dust off a few old school number twos. (You cannot bring an ipad in there among other things due to the photo equipment or pens that make permanent marks.) Then my hubby presented me with a mechanical pencil that he made (he makes handcrafted wood pens and pencils as a hobby.) it was made of pink wood (my favorite color.) Got a car to drive me and made it there on time and the plane trip to Providence was cancelled. The closest I could get was Boston on stand by. I called Robin and asked her could she pick me up in Boston? I would find out if I could get on. I would let her know as soon as possible and took stand by. The other was to wait in the airport until 9:00 P.M. when the next plane to Providence was. I called my hubby too; he told me maybe I should just scrap the trip. (He had been sick throwing up all night long, this figures into story later.) He obviously he wasn’t thinking clearly I was sure he just asked me to cut of my own head.
Boston plane came in no extra seats. I called Robin and told her I was going to try for the next flight in 20 minutes and keep her posted. The next flight they had an extra seat I almost charged on without grabbing my ticket I ran onto the plane waving it like a winning lottery ticket. I got an aisle seat…ick but no matter I was on my way. I gave her a call and let Robin know another crisis avoided.
When I finally touched down my heart was pounding. I met Robin and we got into the car I ate dinner with her and her family and fell restlessly asleep.
“When something good is going to happen there shouldn’t be a night before.”- Mom.
The morning I hit the floor bright and early and found out Robin’s brain wakes up about and hour and a half after she does. Mine does that too unless I am about to unearth my favorite authors lost writings. I guess to quote my son, “so ‘cited” to be sleepy. I wanted to get there as early as possible giving me the time to write as much as I could down. I felt when it came to the song and the poem, V.C. not known for being either. The song would not be American Pie and the poem would not be the Odyssey, but then who knew. I hoped the article wouldn’t be very long but I had no idea what she wrote or how long it would be. I was going into this blind. Robin did say most archives are digitized and can at least give a person going to see them some idea of their length.
Her mother drove us to the train and we took the hour-long trip into Boston. Then took an El train to B. U. I was surprised that the El road ran along on street level with the cars giving me the impression I was riding on a bus. Robin asked me if I would like to eat lunch. “We can’t eat in there,” she explained. I told her I couldn’t get enough brain cells to eat and ask me after.
We got there we filled out a form and I was allowed into the archives with Robin. She wanted to look at some things she had also asked for. The student archivist there gave me a pair of white cotton gloves that I knew were to keep the hand oils off the paper but I was grateful for another reason. I am left-handed and writing in pencil causes my hand at the end of the day to be silver from pinky to wrist.
I don’t think the people who unearthed the Egyptian mummies could be more eager then I was when I opened that box.
There was a bunch of manila folders. I was able to find “Turning a Profit from Memoires”, “Regretting” and “Golden Things” right away. The poem and song was only a page long and to my relief and the article was only 7 pages long double spaced with whatever the standard font size for typewriters it is bigger then now, which is why my article copy is only 3 pages long.
I quickly jotted down the poem and song and then hard charged at the article until it was copied after I had gotten it finished I took a deep breath to look at the other things. I pulled one folder out that looked like to have nothing in it. Out fell a small spiral bound notebook very much like the one I had that had my yellow lab puppies (awwww) on it. Only smaller (about the size of a trade paperback) with a burgundy cover on the cover in the small spidery script which I had become familiar with due to the corrections she made on the other things I had already looked at. “Rosenthaila” was written I like curious child quickly opened it. To my surprise on what I thought would meet my eyes was nothing more the a list of names (sounding French) one being Rosenthaila and the rest of the book was more or less empty on the last page the number $150.00 was also written I have no idea what that meant. There were rumors floating around that she planned to write a romance novel maybe they were names she was planning on using. It was written in her handwriting, which I think is the main draw of having it in the archive. I took a brief look at the correspondence letters. But like Rosenthila I think of them like flowers in a mountain top they’re good to look at but if I were to pluck them (copy them) and bring them home they would lose there value as only that they were either a) written by her or b) written by someone famous made them important nothing was really valuable besides that.
I quickly put them away to go for the folder that was beckoning me since I opened it. There were four folders two where the typed pages and two where green paper called “carbon copies.” There were also a few handwriting pages in another folder I glanced at them they were the notes for the book she must written out some scenes before typing them. I opened the first folder of typed things right at the top it said chapter two. I searched in vain for chapter one but it was nowhere. I noticed right away at the top of the pages was called “Where the Greener Grass Grows.” The name Chris and Cathy caught my eye but the scenes sounded odd. I started to read it and realized it was the most likely first draft of POTW. It started when Paul was taking them to buy clothing at the mall but it was a lot shorter they didn’t buy a sewing machine to custom make Carrie clothes. She was a lot more silent. Her scream fits she has in POTW don’t seem to show up in this book. Also to my surprise it was written in 3rd person. I wonder why? I was reading quickly and jotting down as many differences as I could. A man from the archives tapped me on the shoulder.
“Closing?” I asked. He nodded.
“Okay let me jot down one more thing,” I had seen this at the end of the book and wanted at least that quote. The last one in the book
“…all the road ahead looked purple and then again emerald.” – Cathy “Where the Greener Grass Grows.”
I mentioned the mistake in the name to the archivist at the front desk and she made note of it.
We walked around the museum part of the archives I was able to see first drafts of many books. Robin pointed out the names of John Hancock and G. Washington they even had a new public display of Leonard Nemoy.
I guess now I should give out some pearls of wisdom. Things for the future V.C. Andrews and other hunters of literacy work but I have none. I just took what I had and utilized it to make it work. I guess the best thing is let people know
what you found no matter how minor you might think it is because you really never know.
“Even the smallest person can change the course of history,” J.R. Tolkien. “Lord of the Rings.”
As little epilog to this story when I got home hubby was in the hospital with Pneumonia. (He is fine now.) But it does make me laugh thinking deep down maybe it was V.C. Andrews way of saying, “Yes, I was there, thank you.” “
I’m sure everyone will agree what a wonderful tale Cleo has shared and can empathise with how stressful and ultimately satisfying this trip was.
We, the fans, are truly indebted to her for this meticulous research and sharing it with the fandom.
Robin Alario has a fab website
http://www.thetimetreasurer.com – be sure to check it out for all your research needs xxx