Guest Post – Character Inspiration in Gilded Cage by Vic James

I am super excited to be part of the epic blog tour for the brilliant Gilded Cage by Vic James!

Gilded Cage is the first book in the Dark Gifts trilogy and is due for release on the 26th January 2017 published by the fantastic Pan Macmillan and is set to be an unforgettable read!

As well as all of this Vic James is also #BritishBooksChallenge17 debut of the month for January 2017!

Check out the #BritishBooksChallenge17 Spotlight on Vic and Gilded Cage and find out why people are loving it – here

You can find out more about the #BritishBooksChallenge17 here

And that’s not all!

With thanks to Pan Macmillan I am also hosting a special giveaway on twitter to win 1 of 5 copies of Gilded Cage here!

I’m intrigued by Gilded Cage and I wanted to find out a little more about the inspiration behind its characters……

About Gilded Cage

A thrilling Orwellian vision of Britain, with a rebellious Hunger Games heart, Gilded Cage is the astonishing debut novel from Vic James, and the first title in her electrifying The Dark Gifts Trilogy.

A modern Britain
An age-old cruelty

Britain’s magically skilled aristocracy compels all commoners to serve them for ten years – and now it’s the Hadleys’ turn. Abi Hadley is assigned to England’s most ruthless noble family. The secrets she uncovers could win her freedom – or break her heart. Her brother Luke is enslaved in a brutal factory town, where new friends’ ideals might cost him everything.

Then while the elite vie for power, a young aristocrat plots to remake the world with his dark gifts. As Britain moves from anger to defiance, all three must take sides. And the consequences of their choices will change everything, forever.

You can buy a copy of Gilded Cage here or from you local bookshop

Character Inspiration in Gilded Cage

Ahh, the inspiration for the characters in GILDED CAGE. This is such an interesting question, because while it’s easy to talk about inspiration for the world-building, or the ideas behind the story, the characters seem to come from nowhere.

What I mean by that is that I have never sat down and thought: ‘I need a villain who will betray his best friend’, or ‘Everyone likes strong female characters, so let’s have one of those.’ In fact, as most people who write will tell you, that is one of the Very Worst Ways to try and write a book. It means you regard your characters as plot tools, or as types, rather than as real, rounded people.

So if you’re not creating a character from a kind of checklist (pick any one of: brave/spirited/reckless, innocent/cynical/cunning etc.), then where do they come from?

The truth is that they seem to exist independently of you, and yet you know everything about them.

So in an early draft of book 2, I needed some random details about Silyen Jardine – the enigmatic and unprecedentedly powerful youngest son of the elite Jardine family. And the answers were there. What sort of treat would he nibble on? Pistachio macaroons. His favourite smell? New polish on his beloved riding boots. For GILDED CAGE, I needed to know how he takes his coffee. Black, and scalding hot.

Unless you know your character this intimately, you’ll struggle to know the big stuff: What do they really want? Would they ever betray the one they love? How far would they go to achieve their goals?

That’s because characters must drive story. An author is like a laboratory scientist observing rat behaviour in a maze. You build the maze (world). You have a good idea how your rats will navigate it (plot). You usually know where they’ll end up (dramatic conclusion!). In the case of the Dark Gifts trilogy, which completes in June 2018 with BRIGHT RUIN, I sat down to write knowing the beginning and the end of the entire sequence.

But plot serves character, not the other way around. So you have to be prepared for a few of your rats to take a different route. Some characters demand more of the story than you originally intended for them – I found, for example, that I loved writing playboy heir Gavar Jardine. When you know a character better than they know themselves, it can create compelling twists and turns, as they discover sides of themselves they weren’t aware of.

And how do you get to know your characters like this? It’s exactly how you’d get to know anyone in real life. Talk to them. Go for walks with them. Think about them. Work at figuring them out. All that time you spend in your teens obsessing over what’s going on in the head of your crush/best friend/ /siblings/parents? That’s the most valuable preparation you’ll ever have for writing characters that you, and hopefully your readers, will love.

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

You can buy a copy of Gilded Cage here or from you local bookshop

About Vic James

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 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.

You can find out more about Vic James on her website –

Or why not follow her on twitter – @DrVictoriaJames


Don’t forget with thanks to Pan Macmillan I am also hosting a special giveaway on twitter to win 1 of 5 copies of Gilded Cage here!

Blog Tour

You can catch up or follow the rest of this fab blog tour at the following stops!

A huge thank you to Vic James and also Alice at Pan Macmillan for organising this post, embracing the #BritishBooksChallenge17, providing a copies of Gilded Cage to giveaway and having me as part of this fab tour!

Have you read Gilded Cage?  What did you think?  What was your favourite part?  If you have not read it yet have we tempted you to go and grab a copy?   I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this review or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!


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I am often known to be a bit clumsy and a little loopy! Book loving (obsessed), theatre loving, slasher film loving csi geek! Winner of UKYABA Champion Newcomer 2015 and nominated for Champion of Social Media 2016 and Blogger Of The Year 2016! © 2014 - 2021 Michelle Toy All Rights Reserved

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