Today on Laura's little book blog, I am kicking off the tour for Gilded Cage by Vic James. Vic knows how much I have loved this book from my endless tweets to her. My review will be up in another post on Monday, so look out for that. This was an incredible read and I am thrilled to be able to share with you a guestpost from Vic on where the idea for The Dark Gifts Trilogy came from.
Vic James on The Dark Gifts Trilogy idea
GILDED CAGE is set in an alternate contemporary Britain ruled by a magically gifted aristocracy. Life there looks much as our world does – there are schools, universities, cars, TV, (restricted) internet. Except everyone has to perform a decade of ‘slavedays’ either in a worktown or, for a few, in service to the aristocracy.
So here’s the thing. This Britain isn’t really that ‘alternate’ at all.
My day job is in TV. I was producing a BBC series titled The Superrich and Us, filming with billionaires, visiting their houses and exclusive events, like a supercar rally, at a time when there was a lot of talk about ‘the 1%’ and ‘the 99%’. And on my way to work one day, the idea just clicked in my head: What if the 1% didn’t only have unimaginable wealth – what if they also had magic?
In fact, isn’t extreme wealth, in our world, like a kind of magic? It lets these people do things the rest of us simply can’t.
I wanted to explore how those people behave: do they do good, or bad? Do they want to change the world – or just enjoy their position of privilege in it?
So I have aristocrats like playboy heir Gavar Jardine, scion of England’s most powerful noble family. Or ambitious Bouda (named for Boudica!), who longs to be Britain’s first female ruler. And then there’s mysterious Silyen Jardine. We first meet him engaging in blackmail to abolish the slavedays – but is that truly what he wants?
The heart of the story, though, is ‘us’. Can the 99% of ‘us’ ever change a world ruled by the 1% of ‘them’?
It makes me angry how tough things are today for young people: paying a fortune for educations that may not lead to a dream career; unable to buy property. I put a lot of that injustice into the way the slavedays work – the skills you have won’t necessarily be used in the job you’re assigned; you can’t own property until you’ve done your days.
So while the books are about sibling bonds and the power of friendship, they’re also about how on earth you can fight injustice when the odds are stacked against you. We have two siblings who take different paths: brave 17-year-old Luke falls in with friends with dangerous ideas, while his older sister Abi uses her intelligence to try and figure out the world of the aristocrats.
And because I wanted to write books that are hugely enjoyable, as well as making you think, Luke and Abi’s struggles are all wrapped up in lashings of magic and adventure and history. There are glamorous stately homes, dangerous magic, and ‘Arthurian’ legends! These are all things I love reading about, and they inspired the books, too!
Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Laura, and for loving GILDED CAGE! If anyone has any questions – come and find me on twitter @drvictoriajames