The BookBrunch interview with Vic James, author of Gilded Cage

This week’s BookBrunch interview is with one of my favourite new authors from the past year, Vic James. If you haven’t got your mitts on a copy of her fantastic debut novel Gilded Cage yet, you absolutely should, and for those of you who need more convincing, here’s an interview with the author herself…

vic-jamesAuthor Vic James is instantly likeable. She’s earnest, friendly and a little bashful, but it soon becomes clear she’s also got a mind like a rapier and a devastatingly on point turn-of-phrase. Her debut novel Gilded Cage, the first book in The Dark Gifts trilogy, garnered over 300,000 readers on Wattpad, sold for a six-figure sum to Pan Macmillan and has been auctioned in six territories and counting. We got together to discuss the real Wattpad society, magical aristocrats, and how fiction can shed light on Britain’s structural inequality.

“People have the idea that Wattpad is this monolithic thing and that people who want to be published authors use it, but that’s not my experience,” James says. Though there are some who use Wattpad to try to “get discovered”, and many of its users are young teenage writers for whom the platform is a learning process, mostly “it’s just there for people to have fun”. Nine in 10 of Wattpad’s 40 million users are just readers, nothing more, many of them from countries with a poor public library system or where they don’t have the money to buy books. It’s huge in the Philippines, for instance.

“Wattpad give you an analytics map so you can see where people are reading your book and it’s just amazing,” James grins, estimating that her 300,000 readers hailed from almost everywhere except Greenland and North Korea.James herself used Wattpad to keep herself disciplined. She needed this as she was making The Super-Rich and Us, a documentary for BBC2, when the idea for Gilded Cage struck her. “It couldn’t have come at a worse time!” she recalls. “A bit like publishing, documentary-making is something people do because they love it and you work non-stop, so I was working my socks off! But I thought there was something very special about the idea, and that if I didn’t get it on paper then, it might just fly out the window and never come back.” By obliging her to provide readers with a chapter a week, Wattpad kept James accountable… [READ MORE]