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 and priests 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 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 on relationship. 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 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.
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 mostly impacted his speech, and from which he is improving all of the time. Jim continues to work with Judith recording their weekly Overcoming the Fear of Being Fabulous podcast and coaching executive corporate leaders.
Jim lives with his wife Judith in Northern California.