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Author Interview: James Bailey

One coin, one year and one new shot at love. It’s New Year’s Eve and Josh has a high-flying proposal planned. An exclusive pod on the London Eye, with champagne, truffles and the ring.It’s perfect.

Until she says no.

And they have to spend the next 29 excruciating minutes alone together.

By the time Josh is back on the ground, his whole life is up in the air. He’s managed to lose his girlfriend, his job and his flat. Realising he can’t trust his own judgement, Josh puts his faith in fate.From now on he will make every choice by flipping a coin. It’s reckless and scary, but Josh has tried the right way and look where he ended up.

And what if the girl of his dreams is just one flip of a coin away?

I recently read and reviewed The Flip Side, the wonderful debut novel by James Bailey, who has kindly agreed to answer some of my questions!

The Flip Side follows the story of Josh, who puts his faith into a 50p coin to make all of his decisions; what was your inspiration for this unique premise?

So I had an idea for a book and I started writing a few chapters about a character who was questioning his life choices, but there was no obvious hook, or anything really tying the narrative together. One day I was watching an episode of House of Cards where Francis Underwood mentions flipping a coin to make his decision, which led me to Google ‘Flipism’, a philosophy in which all decisions are made by flipping a coin. I thought it would be great to have a character who puts his love life on the line. We always hear about trusting fate, but let’s see it actually in practice.

The Flip Side is your debut novel, what was one of the most surprising things you learned about writing a book?

Writing a book is hard! I’m not sure if that surprised me, but I think the number of steps involved in getting a book published definitely did. Previously, when I picked up a book to read I don’t think I necessarily realised or respected the journey that those words have been on over multiple years just to be published. If writing a novel isn’t a hard enough feat in itself, then there’s the search for an agent, and then a publisher, and then the multiple edits spent crafting each word and sentence. It’s a long process! It’s so nice to have received really lovely reviews so far for The Flip Side but it does make me laugh when people say they devoured the book in a day – it’s like spending hours cooking a lavish meal which everyone scoffs down in five minutes! 

So far, what has been the best part of your journey to becoming a published author?

There have been so many exciting moments already, and this is before I’ve even seen a proper printed copy of my book. Some of the simple things have stood out – seeing my book on Amazon, going into Penguin’s offices, and, in fact, even signing international tax forms is exciting…although I’m sure that will quickly wear off! I think securing the foreign deals has been really cool – currently The Flip Side is going to be translated into seven foreign languages – and it blows my mind that people in other countries will be reading my book. On a more personal level, one of the main parts of my journey was taking the Curtis Brown Creative writing course, and it’s been lovely to find a writing group and new friendships.

Are there any elements of The Flip Side that are based on real-life experiences or people?

I have certainly drawn on lots of personal experiences in the book, as I think is common in debut novels. Likewise there are a few characters inspired by people I know. I think it’s really an amalgamation of personal experiences, stories heard, and imagination. But no, I personally haven’t proposed to anyone on the London Eye!

Do you find it more enjoyable writing and developing the plot or the characters?

Tricky one. I think I enjoy developing the plot most – my favourite part of the whole process is thinking up the ideas, and imagining what is going to happen throughout the novel. It can be a great form of escapism from every day life. I think it’s important to note though – for all those struggling with their writing – there are plenty of days when I enjoy neither, and it’s all a real chore.

Do you plan on writing any more novels in the future, and if so, how will your experience of writing The Flip Side influence any future works?

Yes, I do! I signed a two book deal with Michael Joseph (Penguin) so I’m currently writing my second novel. It’s a very different experience. For the first, I had years and years to craft it, working on my own. This time, I have a much more immediate deadline, which I think can help focus the mind. There were certainly points when I was writing The Flip Side that I wondered if I was wasting my time, as there is huge potential that no one might ever read it. I think that I’ve learnt from the editing process that there will be lots of changes made at a later point so I’m trying not to be too much of a perfectionist at this early stage, but I appreciate that is a luxury of having a second book deal. Hopefully I will be able to share more news about ‘Book Two’ soon!  

What do you hope that readers will take away from The Flip Side?

I don’t think I am proposing that readers all go away and make crazy life decisions based on the toss of a coin! (Please don’t sue me when your lives go wrong!) But I hope that it encourages them not to lose hope and ambition, to be spontaneous, and to take the occasional risk in life. And above all, I hope it makes them laugh. I think we could all do with some comic relief at the best of times, let alone the strange times we’re currently experiencing.

And finally, would you/have you ever made a big decision by flipping a coin, and if so, did it work out well?!

Good question! Yes when I was writing the book I did have a 50p coin by my computer and I tried to channel Josh. If there’s method acting, maybe this was some form of method writing. I used it to make some trivial choices about what to eat, what to wear, etc. Then I think I had a small bet on the football and I flipped the coin to decide whether to cash out my bet or not – it made the right choice and won me a few quid. I was convinced it was a magic coin! I can see how flipping a coin could become quite addictive! Just this week there was a study published in the papers which revealed that people are happier when they flip a coin for their choices so maybe there’s some method in the madness.

Thank you very much to James for answering my questions! 🙂

You can follow James on Instagram, and his website.

You can pre-order this fabulous book from all major bookstores! The eBook of The Flip Side will be published on 20th August 2020, and the paperback will be released on 26th November 2020.

Thank you for reading! ❤

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