James grew up in Maine, New York, Illinois and Pennsylvania. In 1999, he graduated from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota with a bachelor's degree in anthropology. While studying film-making and photography in his twenties, he worked a variety of Kafkaesque temp jobs, volunteered for arts and anti-violence organizations, tutored writing and English, created documentaries for public access television, helped run a college darkroom, and spent a summer living in Seville and Berlin. After moving to Philadelphia, James worked for five years as the special order specialist at The University of Pennsylvania's bookstore. His current interests include modern classical music, weird fiction and silent film. He performs with the experimental/improvisational rock band Horsey and is constantly tinkering with compositions in his home studio. James also writes fiction and poetry; he was proud to have his first chapbook, Furnace, published by Turtleneck Press in January of 2012.