Today I have the wonderful Vic James on the blog talking about the location inspiration behind Gilded Cage, her debut novel and Wattpad sensation! Gilded Cage by Vic James is the first installment of the Dark Gifts Trilogy. It is published in paperback 26 January 2017 by Pan Macmillan £7.99
GILDED CAGE is the UK, right now … with one big difference. It’s ruled not by a democratic parliament with a monarchy, but by magically gifted aristocrats.
All the rest of us must endure ten years of service: the ‘slavedays’. These are spent either in worktowns, or on the great estates of the aristocracy.
But let’s start with a wall, because the Drax Wall in Dorset is where the whole world of the books began. It’s one of the longest walls in Britain, with more than 8 million bricks, and runs along a main road that leads to the beautiful south coast – we’d drive along it when I was little, going on our summer camping holidays.
I always used to look at that wall and wonder what was behind it (the Drax estate is so large that you can’t see the house from the road). I also used to ask who it was meant to keep out … or in!
So when the idea for GILDED CAGE and the Dark Gifts trilogy came into my head – a world where 1% of the population has magic and lives as aristocrats – I knew that the Drax Wall had to be part of it. The book’s opening scene is a girl trying desperately to escape from inside the wall. A few chapters later, a magical gate opens in the wall to take the Hadley family inside to begin their days.
What they find inside the wall – the great estate of Kyneston – began as another Dorset location, Kingston Lacey. This is a gorgeous and decadent house now owned by the National Trust. Peacocks roam the grounds and the walls are hung with gilded leather and astonishing art.
While some stately homes today can seem fusty and museum-like, Kingston Lacey is so elegant it’s as if the aristocrats who once owned it still lived there. To turn it into Kyneston, I gave the house two immense wings (like Castle Howard, most famous for being Brideshead) – but these glitter and gleam with the power of magical Skill!
Just because nicking character names from places is so much fun (look at JK Rowling’s Flitwick and Snape), I stole the names of nearby hamlets Winterbourne Zelston and Lytchett Matravers for two characters.
And then there’s the magical estate of Orpen Mote, which we meet in a dream-like chapter that takes place entirely within the memories of one character. This is Ightham Mote, a stunning medieval manor house in Kent. I changed nothing about it except for the name! The way the house sits in a moat which holds a perfect reflection of it, captured perfectly the blend of real and unreal I wanted for this uncanny place.
Place is so important for me, to make the Britain of the books feel real. GILDED CAGE’s sequel, TARNISHED CITY (out in September), is London-focused, and I’ve had such fun reimagining it for that book!
Drax Wall http://s0.geograph.org.uk/geophotos/01/20/03/1200325_25725f80.jpg
Kingston Lacey https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/kingston-lacy Ightham Mote https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ightham-mote
Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Leah, and for loving GILDED CAGE! If anyone has any questions – come and find me on twitter @drvictoriajames
Vic James is a current affairs TV director who loves stories in all their forms, and Gilded Cage is her debut novel. She as twice judged the Guardian’s Not the Booker Prize, has made films for BBC1, BBC2, and Channel 4 News, and is a huge Wattpadd.com success story. Under its previous title, Slavedays, her book was read online over a third of a million times in first draft. And it went on to win Wattpad’s ‘Talk of the Town’ award in 2015 – on a site showcasing 200 million stories. Vic James lives and works in London.
Author: Vic James
Series: Dark Gifts #1
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
NOT ALL ARE FREE. NOT ALL ARE EQUAL. NOT ALL WILL BE SAVED. Our world belongs to the Equals—aristocrats with magical gifts—and all commoners must serve them for ten years. But behind the gates of England's grandest estate lies a power that could break the world. A girl thirsts for love and knowledge. Abi is a servant to England's most powerful family, but her spirit is free. So when she falls for one of the noble-born sons, Abi faces a terrible choice. Uncovering the family's secrets might win her liberty, but will her heart pay the price? A boy dreams of revolution. Abi's brother, Luke, is enslaved in a brutal factory town. Far from his family and cruelly oppressed, he makes friends whose ideals could cost him everything. Now Luke has discovered there may be a power even greater than magic: revolution. And an aristocrat will remake the world with his dark gifts. He is a shadow in the glittering world of the Equals, with mysterious powers no one else understands. But will he liberate—or destroy?