After graduating from Yale (1973, cum laude, history) and earning an M.S in Accounting from NYU's Graduate School of Business Administration the next year, James worked in the corporate world for the next nearly 20 years. This included being an auditor for a Big 8 public accounting firm and an operations analyst for Xerox. In the early Nineties, he left the corporate world to join an NGO providing technical assistance in Central and Eastern Europe after the fall of Communism. He moved to Poland in the mid-Nineties.
In 2003, still an expat, he started working as an editor for Essay Edge. Since that time, he has edited nearly 4000 essays in all categories. He has also written and published a series of short stories and poems and edited the prose submissions for a series of books produced by New Europe Writers. In 2014 he started performing as a spoken word artist and stand-up comedian. In 2018, he will have a solo show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.