James Phelan was born on the 21st of May, 1979, in Melbourne, Australia. His creative spirit was nurtured from a young age, and he credits his overactive imagination to being exposed to authors such as Roald Dahl and Paul Jennings, as well as such works as The Hobbit, Treasure Island, The Jungle Book, Tales of the Punjab, Siddhartha, and The Little Prince.
As a teenager James discovered a love of geo-political thrillers, of being entertained and informed on topical global events. James cites influences on the Fox series from reading such authors as Alistair MacLean, Clive Cussler, Jeffery Archer, Ken Follett, Tom Clancy, Jack Higgins, Robert Ludlum, John le Carre, Ian Fleming, and Jeffery Deaver.
In 1995, aged fifteen, James started his first novel, which he went on to develop as part of his major VCE English assignment in 1996. A thriller involving a terrorist attack on the 2000 Sydney Olympics, James eventually abandoned the storyline when Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six was published in 1998. While this story idea died, the lead protagonists of Lachlan Fox and Alister Gammaldi lived on as James went in search of another introductory tale for these series characters.
After high school James went on to study in Architecture, and then English Literature, eventually graduating with a PhD in Writing. It was during his masters degree and while working at The Age newspaper James developed the idea that would become his first published book, and would lead to seeing his novels in print.