James Bailey was born in Palestine, Illinois. He served in the Korean War, and after the War (with the aid of the GI Bill) he earned a Bachelor's degree at the University of Pittsburgh. He then entered graduate school at the University of California, Berkeley. He was sent to southern Mexico (Chiapas) for field research. He never (in spirit at least) returned. The trip to Chiapas ended his academic career, and was the beginning of his career as a dealer in Spanish Colonial art.
Drawing on his experiences, he has written three full-length novels, two novellas, and several short stories. He self-published two novels: Monero, which won 2nd prize in the EPPIES Awards, 03, and, The Journey, which won 1st prize in the EPPIES Awards, 04. He is now retired and living in Mexico.