Born and raised out in the sticks of Napa, California, James served in the US Army as a scout (RECON) from 2000–2007 and served two years in the Iraq War. His unit (A Troop 1-10 CAV) deployed to Iraq in 2003, spearheaded the 4th Infantry Division, and was influential in the mission to capture Saddam Hussein (Operation Red Dawn: Objective Wolverine). After the military, James lived in Angra dos Reis, Brazil, where he taught conversational English and began writing his first epic fantasy series—The War of Ages Saga. James returned to the US to attend college at 33, graduating from Mesa Community College and the University of Arizona with an AA and BA in philosophy of ethics.
In September 2015, James founded Arizona Veterans Helping Veterans, a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to help prevent veteran suicide, reintegrate veterans into society, and help veterans to strengthen their communities.