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From Cervantes to George Clooney: The Successful Debut of a KCL Alumni

King’s alumni James Bailey publishes his debut novel The Flip Side amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. After the great success of the e-book, the paperback becomes available in the UK on November 26. 

The Flip Side is a romantic comedy novel following the life of main character Josh for a year. After a series of what he considers as poor decisions, he decides to let the flip of a coin choose for him for the next 365 days. Led by the coin’s decisions, he ventures across the world chasing the ‘love of his life’. Filled with light humour and wise comments and remarks, the novel appears to be a mixture of fiction and reality. Author James Bailey shares more on the topic. 

Originally from Bristol, James studied Hispanic studies at KCL between 2010-2014. He shares he really enjoyed his time at the university and most notably the journalistic opportunities he took advantage of. James used to attend the Red carpet premieres at Leicester Square and interview the stars. He jokingly described his routine as: “leaving after my lecture on Don Quixote or Golden Age Spanish literature to interview George Clooney in the evening”. He says he gained lots of good journalistic practice and met a lot of people, which was followed by a writing course. This all helped him pursue his idea of writing a novel until it became a reality in August, 2020.

Initially published on Apple Books in the summer, the book is now available across more online platforms, including Amazon, and in supermarkets and bookstores across the UK. After hundreds of edits, James happily sees his book generating great success as it quickly became a Number 1 e-book bestseller on Apple Books. He mentions making various notes and shorter drafts while still being at university. Throughout the years those were compiled in what we can now read. James says there has not been a single event that inspired the book, but explains it is based on personal stories and things that have happened to him. He says it is “inspired by friends and things that I have seen. I also enjoy reading books of similar genre and watch movies of similar genre as well”. Most of his characters are a mixture of his friends and acquaintances. 

“I think you have some people who don’t realise they are them, but then you have other people who think they are in the book, but it’s not actually them. (…) I did not show any drafts to my friends. Did not want them to ask for a bigger role,” he jokingly explains. 

James further admits he sometimes mistakes one of his friends’ names with the one of the character that was inspired by her. 

When asked about his opinion on the initial great success of his novel, he says:

“To be honest, I’m not sure how that happened really. I think people like reading something that’s hopefully funny, light hearted and easy to read, and there’s quite a lot of travel in the book. So it’s kind of nice to read about travelling when you can’t really do it in real life. I think it just came out in a time when people are looking for something uplifting.”

Unfortunately, due to the pandemic and the lockdown, James could not enjoy a proper launch party, but he hopes the bookstores would open soon, making the book even more easily accessible. He believes people have started reading more during lockdown, which makes him optimistic about the future of the novel, although he shares there is huge competition on the market as many pieces have been published recently. Regardless of the uncertain times, he says:

“I think the positive is it has given me a lot of excitement in the year, which is being quite miserable otherwise. It has been nice to have something to focus on, something to join during this year.”

He further mentions interest from movie production companies. Despite the current freeze in the industry due to the pandemic, James feels hopeful we may see a movie adaptation at some point in the future. In fact he shares he “kind of wrote it hoping for it to become a film”. 

Having The Flip Side on the one end of his desk, he is now working on a second novel of a similar genre. The story plot would be led by a main male character and would be taking place in two countries and two time periods. As James is currently working at the Alumni relations office at his old school, organising various events and talks, he jokingly says he may have a lot of time to write this term due to the pandemic. 

Going back to The Flip Side, he says:

“Buy The Flip Side. It is a perfect Christmas present. Get it for everyone in your life. They will all enjoy it. Thank you very much to the people who have bought the copies. It is really nice to hear people’s feedback. To anyone who is reading this and is a student at King’s and interested in going to writing, I would like to think I am a good example that you can do it. If anyone would like to reach out, I would be more than happy to pass out any advice or tips.”

The Flip Side is available in the UK, the US and Canada. It is currently becoming accessible throughout Europe. You could order it on Amazon. 

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