Interview With Neisha Chetty
by Lorraine Elgar
Neisha Chetty is a name that causes more than a few ripples amongst the V c Andrews fan base. Her exciting and intriguing theories cause much debate and discussion amongst fans worldwide. Today Neisha has kindly agreed to open up on where her theories come from and why the Dollanganger saga is so much more than a soap.
Hey Neisha, lovely to hear from you, can you tell our members a little bit about yourself?
Thank you. Lorraine. I’m from Durban, South Africa. The Rainbow Nation. I was born under the apartheid government until 1994, when Nelson Mandela became our first democratically elected president. …. 1994 was the year of change and a year later I read Flowers in the Attic for the first time. I’m a bit of a loon firstly, a little eccentric. I’m a very private person like VCA. Also like Virginia, I dappled a little in computer programming. I dedicated a lot of time to my jobs- one as a computer tech and the other in sales. Everything was fast paced. Then obviously recently I had a series of challenging experiences, I lost my dad in 2011 whom I idolized, yep I can identify with Cathy in a way. Then I had several problems arising from eyesight problems. I recently had a cornea graft done last year May and I had the support of my VCA twitter family (derangeddoll, swiftydoll, Julie Hannes aka Corrine Foxworth, Julie, Carmen(who has the Petals on the Wind movie fb page) and lastly but not least yourself wishing me well. Then I got a very unexpected message from Wyatt Nash, who played the role of Chris (Petals on the Wind) which was absolutely sweet. All these challenges made me slow down and think about what’s important in life – family, friends and the human spirit. That’s when I decided around December 2012 (about the time William Henry Andrews Jnr aka Bill Andrews died) to also share my thoughts on VCA with other fans.
When did you first read the Dollanganger saga?
Twenty. I know that’s a bit late for a “teen” read but I was at the right age at the right time to read it and understand it’s significance. When VCA was initially recommended to me by a high school friend, I initially thought it was one of those trashy books. The theme was incest … and the plot seemed so ridiculous – a brother marrying his own sister ? And they KNOW they’re brother and sister ! In a nutshell I thought this book was encouraging little girls to think incest was okay …and somehow
make them easy targets for sexual predators (usually family members). Later on, at university around March 1995, while I was reading a lot of philosophical science fiction, a friend told me “You’re too serious ! Read something light”. Did I mention i was somewhat of a geek ? Now I must state this friend of mine, Shireen Archary was always reading “those” novels. You know the kind with a well toned, chiseled ab, muscles glistening guy like Fabio on the front cover and a heavy bosomed heroic flawless virgin beauty with a look of ecstasy – crimson full lips slighly parted and eyes closed waiting in anticipation and titles like “My Beloved Warrior’ … Shireen was always reading those books like Vera and Lucky would. So at her prompt, and merely because I wanted guys to know that I could be like that crimson lip siren too and not so serious, I visited the local library and stopped at the first self … And there it was … As if it had been there all along waiting for me was a stepback edition of Flowers in the Attic …(laughs, I made it a little dramatic) Needless to say, I was hooked onto every word, every page, everything was compelling. I had to have the rest of the saga, and for a year, finding out the mysteries became an obsession.
What made you think there was more to the saga then initially believed by fans?
I think if you read things enough times and a lot times over, you begin to see new elements you missed before. I still maintain that if I’ve seen so much of this saga, it’s because of my love for sci- fi. Not many people make the crossover from reading sci-fi to reading a so called trashy novel like Flowers in the Attic yet the themes are the same. I recall asking my friends who read and knew a little of VCA if she wrote sci- fi and well I got a few laughs… They thought I was joking because the correlation was absurd. Later on in 2004, Gods of Green Mountain was released – Virginia Andrews sci-fi novel. I think the other aspect is If There Be Thorns, I call that the eye opener. It’s the book that points at or makes you aware “something here ain’t right” A lot of the time we’re too distracted to see the truth and certainly Cathy’s love life and her feelings were sometimes a distraction. They say “life is a distraction from seeing the truth” or sometimes it better not too because the truth is sometimes awful. One of my favourite lines from GOS.
“My father always taught me that when something was terribly wrong, there was a reason. And the reason was always hidden. If one wanted to know the truth, one should search for it.” Olivia GOS “But Olivia” he had cautioned me,” when you search the shadows to find that truth, often you find things more horrible, more painful than you would imagine. “
Certainly if there’s one thing I learn’t from Virginia, it is that a web of shadows can be spun around the truth and some of us aren’t brave to see what lies inside. It’s just human nature as the old saying goes “ignorance is bliss” and mine would be “sometimes knowing gives me headache” And sometimes when we love a character like either Chris or Cathy, we don’t want to see them as being less than perfect. So our own emotions cloud on our judgment. Certainly Chris always made excuses for Corrine when Cathy questioned her motives.
How do you go about putting a theory together?
The same way you put a puzzle together. You look at the best fit. How can I arrange things in a way so the picture makes sense. That sort of thing. There isn’t anything fancy, or highly smart or insert Einstein equation here. It’s all just a logical fit In fact Virginia through Chris always states for something that is complex, there is a logical, simple solution. What Virginia has done here is taken a puzzle broken it up into little pieces and scattered it throughout the series. I must also point out there is a pattern to everything. History repeats itself. I learnt that btw, in the most unlikely place – history class. Once you know the pattern you can refine the detail. That pattern give me the framework. Most of the red flags are in ITBT. I must say, sometimes a lot of my stuff is based on hunches. I go with my intuition on things. Then I test those hunches. Over the years I’ve come to offer explanations to people in an ordered fashion, I try to explain my feelings using genuine literary tools … that I look at two things – two tools that Thomas Hardy explains ;- Subtext and Symbolic meaning Character traits- Lately Christopher’s Diary came through, now anyone who knows my theories, should know that I use Chris as a master key to unlock most of the Dollanganger mysteries. I use Cathy to feel and Chris to analyze or explain the why. I’m probably the first person to mention Cathy is an unreliable narrator – madwoman unreliable narrator. A lot of times there are questions or a small question that makes you go down that rabbit hole to search for the truth. Shireen was adamant that Cathy was in love with Bart Snr and loved Chris only as a brother. I thought that was a load of BS. I read the books, I know what Cathy feels for Chris is so intense, so deeply binding that she is willing to risk all to be with him. But that didn’t satisfy Shireen who was a law student at that time, so I had to come up with evidence to prove my case. It was really how it all began ;- with small a question ;”who did Cathy truly love?” and it ran pretty deep, but it was based on a simple undeniable truth. You first published your spanish moss theory on good reads a few years ago . How do you feel about the response from fellow fans ? I’m ecstatic about where it stands now. This would have been out there maybe twenty years ago, but when I mentioned these theories to my friends, it frightened them … I can still remember – it DISTURBED them. Based on that reaction, it kind of discouraged me from going public with my theories. I also was afraid that I’m defending a book that’s about transgressive love — incest. There was no way at that time, I wanted to be labelled as a “brother lover” (Hoda’s words …lol). Seriously people would look at me queer if I even had a copy of the book under my arm. I felt ashamed for being associated with it. So for two decades, I kept my knowledge a secret. Another part of me felt people would not understand. Then I thought Cathy had the courage state things we’d be ashamed of, so for me she served as an example. Silence is self violence. To keep things within yourself isn’t good, part of the human experience is to share. It doesn’t matter if one person or twenty hear you, it is just good to have a voice. When I first started to go public in December 2012, it was more in response to people criticizing the books or merely seeing it as soap opera, trivial stuff. Initially my theory was dismissed, but I endured and kept putting it on everything that came up on a google search. Ann Patty who was Virginia Andrews’ editor after reading my theory merely stated “I regret to inform you that’s you’re completely wrong”. Ann Patty is also the editor of Life of Pi. Both the Dollangangers and the Life of Pi are just as deep. The more rejections I got of the theory, the more determined I became. A few people, I think the first favourable response was from author MM Kin then came Karely Madrigal Camacho, who runs the Christopher Dollanganger site. That was in early 2013. Then Julie Hannes (you know her as Corrine Foxworth 2) did her blog and that gave my theories massive impetus. Towards that time Andrew Neiderman announced that Lifetime was considering doing the “Flowers in the Attic” movie. I worked fervently posting day and night answering everything and anything Dollanganger related to get myself out there. Jennifer (The Complete VCA fb page) was so amazing. I still think no one promotes VCA better than Jennifer. Towards October 2013 I met Lorraine Elgar (I’m not sure if you’re acquainted with her … Lol) and we forged a partnership that seemed to work and a definite love and appreciation for this series. We met Nick Phillips and had a wonderful discussion about genetics, and recurring incest.
Things really started picking up then, Lorraine and I moved to twitter and I began to explain my theories on twitter and then off to the VCA lost angels board where my theories were already causing quite the stir. People were very emotional about them, and people were hurt by what I was accusing Cathy of. I had to spend a lot of time there explaining them- that even with these revelations – it doesn’t take away my love for Cathy or Chris. It just makes me feel sad that they did what they had to- to survive. Laura, Cleo the Dog and Layla have an incredible forum. Layla had this theory about Killer Chris (mine the Spanish moss is killer Cathy). I didn’t read Layla’s stuff until last year. But it’s pretty close to mine to where the source comes from. I guess you’d call mine the converse to her theory. I just want to mention her theory was oh so close. I think being mentioned in a post by Andrew Neiderman felt good. FITA 2.0 did a blog and mentioned some of my sci-fi theories which was ultra cool. I just love her work.
There’s also Landlocked Mermaid who does an awesome blog on the Casteel Kids Stole my groceries that we’ve met.
I know it been a long time for your theories to get any recognition but they seem to have exploded this past year on discussion groups and fan forum s! How does that make you feel?
I think it’s been three years or so ? Three years, 4 months 16 days lol… Just kidding. For those of you who don’t know 3years 4 months 16 days is the days spent imprisoned in the attic. We’ve collaborated on the timelines. You’ve done the hard work and I’ve just done the editing bit. And that’s more famous than my theories. With Chris’s diary coming through, I’ve gained more of a platform and we’ve linked up again with Candace Marie Butler, Lulabel Johnson, and Cindy Evans Closson from the Jennifer’s fb page. Jessica Ketcham and Jane Marie Krabbeler did a fine job. Recently we’ve met Jennifer Clark and Bree Houseman and it’s been a blast. If you had to do a timeline for my theories it would go like this 2012 November Bill Andrews died 2012 December My theories emerge 2013 June FITA movie announcement 2013 June My theories begin to rise 2013 October FITA twitter move 2013 October my theories gain more impetus And so forth.
It’s just my theories came out at the right time and rose with the interest sparked by the movies. Makes me wonder if this all was a divine plan… (Just kidding).
Lastly are there any current theories you are working on and can you give us details on them?
So far I’ve done theories on Audrina, Gods of Green Mountain and I’ve worked on a book I’m not so fond of “Fifty Shades of Grey”. I love to analyze – it’s my passion. The why’s and wherefores, I’m addicted to them. Every time I answer something, another mystery follows …
“I’m like a doughnut, always being punched out in the middle, and constantly I go around searching for the missing piece, and on and on it goes, never ending, only beginning. . .”
Cathy Petals on the Wind
I’ve taken to pushing theories out of other people. Sometimes people think I’m being aggressive. But it’s way to bring out answers lurking in the back of someone’s mind. I push people just as much as I push myself. No theory is absurd … Everything theory though needs to be challenged. My theories aren’t written in stone. In fact when I initially mentioned them, people thought it was over analysis. My theories are still in the formative stage. So there’s still a way to go. I don’t know everything about this book, and there’s more to explore so I would like to take that journey with others. I’ve still left mysteries like who wet the sand that caused Jory’s injuries. The mysteries of If There Be Thorns and Seeds Of Yesterday aren’t solved yet … I think I’m blessed to have made so many connections with people who are fans like me. They’ve inspired me with their passion. In the future, maybe I’d like to go onto the higher levels of the book and tackle the big questions if they do come up. I prefer to go with the flow on that. I’d like to do the framework of the Casteel series. And we’re working on more timelines. When the movies come up, I’ll go into fan girl mode with my twitter peeps.