Today, the blunt reality of inequality and unequal distribution of wealth is more prevalent than ever. Our society is split into the haves and the have nots – the 1% and the 99%. A few individuals tend whole orchards of magic money trees; their extreme wealth is itself a form of magic.

In her Dark Gifts Trilogy, Vic James takes this a step further, creating an alternate Britain where a small wealthy elite possess Skill, a power they use to control the greater Skillless population. This is “Downton Abbey meets Game of Thrones set in a world where Voldemort won.”

We talk to Vic about power plays and politics, female ambition, naughty aristocrats, class division, reclaiming the bitch and our fascination with family drama.

The final book in her trilogy, Bright Ruin, is out now.

Mentioned in this episode:

Vic James is a current affairs TV director and the author of Gilded Cage, Tarnished City, and Bright Ruin (Pan Macmillan), an adult fantasy trilogy set in an alternate contemporary Britain ruled by magical aristocrats. The joke pitch was ‘Downton Abbey meets Game of Thrones in a world where Voldemort won’ … and that somehow became the official pitch.

You might think Vic drew on her experience covering Brexit, the US presidential election, and the 1-percenters, but she couldn’t possibly comment. Gilded Cage was a 2018 World Book Night selection and a Radio 2 Book Club pick. Vic’s next book, fantasy thriller Sanctuary, is ‘Big Little Lies with witches’ – a small-town scandal leads to America’s first contemporary witch trial. It’s out in March 2019 from Gollancz.