Lisa Falkenstern


Lisa Falkenstern plays a big part in the VCA enterprise being the artist whom has detailed the most stepback artworks of them all.

Her intricate style and attention to detail bring our beloved stories to life and help readers develop a sense of character and story long before we become absorbed in its pages. As readers we find ourselves firstly absorbed in the stepbacks.

Initially starting with Heaven, Lisa didn’t take on the role of stepback artist until the Landry series and continued to do so right up until the publishers decided it too expensive to produce much to the fans dissapointment and sorrow.


Therefore , AtticSecrets is extremely honoured to have been granted an interview with Lisa herself in regards to the stepbacks, her role in producing the artwork and also that of her husband , the late Milton Charles who came up with the original concept and she faithfully reproduced time and again.

Do you have a particular favourite stepback you created ? 

My favorites covers are the ones for the Wildflowers series. I designed and painted the front covers (though they are no longer used) and the stepback art (which I think still is). I truly enjoyed doing single portraits of each character. 

Could you possibly tell me a little about the process of creating the stepbacks?

In creating the stepback art for V.C Andrews with Milt, we would work on ideas for how the cover and setback would work together. We would get a manuscript to read, and then we tried different ideas on what to show on the covers.  Back then, there was no computer, no Photoshop, no InDesign to produce a polished sketch for approval. The art department at Pocket Books would mock up covers from Milt’s sketches adding type on a sheet of acetate over a copy of the cover rough. That was shown at cover meetings to decide which worked best. Once an approval was received for a cover, I would work on doing rough sketches for how the inside stepback would look

Were you given direction or was it your own concept ?

Had you read the books prior to creating ?

And also all the fans are desperate to know of the original models and who they were and where they came from and why they were specifically chosen ? 

Most of the setback art was designed to show the characters in the book and how they related to each other, eventually graduating to showing the characters in scenes. After I had come up with a composition that worked with the die cut in the front cover, I would set up a shoot at a photography studio. I would go through the model books from the modeling agencies in New York and try to find people that matched the characters. When everyone arrived for the shoot, I had sketches to show how the models how they should pose and direct the photographer how the lighting would look. Often I would bring props and costumes to make sure the models looked like the characters in the books.

Then I would go through all the photos and pick out the ones that worked the best. I would do a drawing from them, and after that drawing was approved I would redraw the drawing onto a board, and paint the cover using oil paints.

Even after Milton retired, he still had a hand in the V.C. Andrews art. While he no longer designed the covers, we were married so he helped me with the stepback concepts and art.

I’m sure the fandom will agree with me that this information is fascinating for any V C Andrews fan and will join me wholeheartedly in thanking Lisa for being so candid, informative and keeping the spirit of VCA alive.

Lisa herself has gone on to have an extremely successful illustrating career and has won numerous awards.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Justin S says:

    Fascinating! I always loved the stepback covers. I came to the work of V.C. Andrews in the mid-1990’s. By then, many of the books available at the store would be second or third printings when the covers would no longer open and only the face of the main girl would be imposed into the front cover. I would spend time at used bookstores trying to find original copies that had the stepback covers. The most elusive (and in my opinion the best) were “Petals on the Wind” and “Dark Angel.” Both were the second book in their respective series, and were different than any other. The inside of the stepback had the illustration extend from opening cover all the way across to the inside of the actual cover. I will always contend (and still hope to one day discover for sure) that Matt LeBlanc (Joey from “Friends”) was used in the inside cover of “Gates of Paradise,” the fourth book in the Casteel series.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I m a collector of the original stepbacks too ! To me they are so much part of the book and story – I hadn’t noticed the Matt le blanc lookalike but I’m now going to check that out !


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