While the Leaving Home Trilogy is autobiographical fiction,
these are the biographical facts—his real-life story.
The Early Years
Jim was born and raised in a Catholic, working-class family in a tough Polish enclave (some called it a ghetto) in southwest Detroit. His grandparents arrived in Detroit from the fields and farms of Eastern Poland remaining true to a medieval sense of religiosity with its strict demand of obedience and the peasant’s lifestyle.
From boyhood on, Jim struggled with his growing awareness of the brutality Old World Catholicism imposed on him and everyone in his community—the lower-class life they were compelled to live, including the alcohol they consumed to dull the pain they endured, and the reproach they suffered should anyone consider resisting or, even worse, leaving.
Jim, nevertheless, resisted and he was continually kept on the “to be watched” list by the nuns at Our Lady Queen of Angels, his parish and elementary school. His rebellion went full force during his early teens when he joined the Royal Lancers, a local street gang.
James Discovers Professional Acting
After graduating from The University of Detroit High School, a Jesuit-based college prep school, he attended the University of Detroit where he discovered the theater and a fifteen-year career as a stage actor ensued.
He received rave reviews for his role as the Gentleman Caller in Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie, and then was off to New York to study at The Neighborhood Playhouse, before being hired by the Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival in Cleveland.
Jim went on to work at the Loretto-Hilton Repertory Theater in St. Louis, Missouri, where for seven years he was a leading force as an actor, director, and teacher. Then on to Hollywood, to co-star in a number of television shows including The Rockford Files, St. Elsewhere, and Quincy, to name a few.
At the same time he earned a degree graduating Summa Cum Laude from California State University-Northridge and then on to earn a PhD in Philosophy and Psychology.
Along Comes Judith
On a chance blind date in 1987, he met his now wife and business partner Judith Sherven, PhD. Together they built a thriving relationship therapy practice, and became known for their powerfully inspiring joint speaking talent, and bestselling books. More recently, they have spent over a decade specializing in Executive Coaching for a variety of tech companies including being on multi-year retainers at both LinkedIn and Credit Karma.
Judith & Jim, as they are more commonly known, have appeared on over 3000 radio and television shows including Oprah, The View, CNN, MSNBC, and Canada AM.
Jim’s deep interest in character, born of his experience as an actor and his doctoral research, led him to writing novels.
The first book in Jim’s Leaving Home Trilogy—Worship of Hollow Gods— bears witness to the world of a sensitive, nine-year-old boy, subjected to the underbelly of his Polish Catholic family in working class Detroit.
His second book—An Ambition to Belong—focuses on the infusion of early life impressions and experiences that create a mindset and lifestyle unconsciously framed and driven, gripping and holding anyone without them knowing how or why. To mature into a self-possessed and fulfilling life, the unconscious bonds that make up the base of our initial child personality must be broken, left behind, freeing us to grow into the adult conscious character by which we conduct the rest of our life.
When Angels Die, the third book in James Sniechowski’s Leaving Home Trilogy, takes his lead character, Jim, from a prestigious New York City acting school to early success in his stage career. With each new role, his Detroit inner-city Polish peasant Catholic upbringing threatens to unravel his soul. An existential rivalry ensues–one part pulling him toward success in the world and a life of deep self-expression and another part demanding abject submission to a culture that views the world as treacherous, seductive, repulsive, and sinful. While working at a regional theater, he finds real love for the first time, and it is through love that Jim wrestles with and ultimately discovers his true path. When Angels Die, with its philosophic and poetic overtones, is storytelling at its very best.
In Second Life: Because the First One is Not Yet Finished, Sniechowski tells a tale of reincarnational romance that lasts for more than five hundred years. Emile Chevet, a Benedictine priest, and Justine Foirere, a beautiful peasant girl, fall deeply in love during the 1505 Papal Inquisition of the Catholic Church. They are discovered, accused of heresy and fornication, tortured, and gruesomely put to death. Because their love was cut short, they reincarnate in 2005 to explore the promise they made but could not fulfill. As a result, Jessica Fortin, an antique dealer, finds herself in the Emergency Room after crashing her car. Her doctor, Erik Albright, MD, is taken aback by not only her beauty but her mysterious familiarity. Renewing their relationship bit-by-bit, and assisted by a world-renowned hypnotist, they travel back to 1505 reliving the love and horrors of their first life.
Jim’s deepest desire is for his readers to experience the real-world identity-struggles of his characters, and be moved to examine their own internal driving forces for the betterment of the life they are creating every day.
In October, 2016, Jim had a mild stroke that impacted mostly his speech, and from which he is improving all of the time. Jim continued to work with Judith, in 2019 and 2020, recording their weekly podcast, Overcoming the Fear of Being Fabulous. And Jim still works with Judith coaching executive corporate leaders.
Jim and Judith live in Northern California.