Leavey, James 1947-

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LEAVEY, James 1947-

PERSONAL: Born December 9, 1947, in Beckenham, Kent, England; son of Curtis Pfeiffer (a drafter) and Mary (a factory worker) Leavey; married Flora Camboni (divorced); married Gwenda Silsby (a district nurse), April 16, 1994; children: Jerome, Francesca. Ethnicity: "White." Education: Attended Sidney Webb Teacher Training College and Mountview Theater School. Hobbies and other interests: Antiques, reading, film, radio, travel, walking, people.

ADDRESSES: Home and offıce—32 Marion Rd., London NW7 4AN, England. E-mail—jamesleavey@ bigfoot.com.

CAREER: Southern Africa, London, England, office boy and reporter, beginning 1963; worked at various jobs, including production assistant for magazine publishers, London, 1963-70; London Art Bookshop, London, manager, 1970-74; London Post Office, London, administration manager, 1974-80; British Telecom, London, international public relations executive, 1984-90; freelance writer, 1991—. British Telecom/IPR Northern Ireland Press and Broadcast Awards, chief judge, 2000—. Barnet Hospital, volunteer porter, 1987; Meals on Wheels, volunteer, 1987; also volunteer radio presenter for area hospitals.

MEMBER: Gerry's Club.


(Editor) Taylor's Corporate Northern Ireland, Vincent Taylor and Co. (Edinburgh, Scotland), 1995.

(Editor) The Forest Guide to Smoking in London, Quiller Press (London, England), 1996.

(Editor) The Forest Smoker's Guide to Scotland, Quiller Press (London, England), 1998.

(With others) The Harrods Pocket Guide to FineCigars, Harrods, 2000.

Author of "Sharing an Ashtray" (column), Punch, 2001-02; cigars columnist, World Tobacco, 2002—; columnist, Boom, 2002—. Contributor to magazines and newspapers, including African World, African Affairs, Outdoor Advertising, Stock Exchange Gazette, Scottish Field, TV Times, Skier, Observer, Classic Cigar, and Hyatt International. Founding editor, Taylors Corporate Northern Ireland, 1994; editor, Humidor, 1995.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Mr. Brolly and Animal Island, both children's books; One for the Plot, a pilot program for BBC-Radio 4; comedy writing for radio and television; research for a possible television series, The Crew, set at a lifeboat station in Northern Ireland.

SIDELIGHTS: James Leavey told CA: "The first thing I remember attempting to do as a young child is to copy my mother, who was writing a letter. By the age of eight I had already written my first, very short book and was dreaming of becoming a journalist. I left school at fifteen and, despite the fact that my headmaster said I had no future as a journalist, I wrote my first article for Southern Africa three months later. At the time, I was the youngest writer working in Fleet Street—not that many people noticed.

"I then dabbled at various jobs, especially anything relating to publishing, theater, acting, and books, mainly because I had no formal qualifications and couldn't get work as a trainee reporter. After returning from the first coast-to-coast tour of America by a British drama school in 1970, I gave up acting to raise a family and settled down to a humdrum job with the post office. The job ironically encouraged my literary career, for in the same office with me were the former racing reporter for the Irish Times and a former English teacher, both of whom took it upon themselves to give me a belated education in the art of writing.

"By 1980 I felt confident enough to apply for a post as an assistant information officer, part of which involved being deputy editor of the post office house magazine for its computing staff. That's where I learned to write on every subject under the sun: the magazine included features on people's actual hobbies and interests outside work. I also set myself up as a film, art, and theater critic for several publications produced by the post office and British Telecom, and I had a regular in-house readership of 500,000 staff.

"In 1984 I got involved in the early days of publishing British computer games, when I was invited to join the small team that set up British Telecom's home computing software publishing company, Firebird Software, whose good-value games changed the market dramatically and sold in the millions around the world. During this period, I created background scenarios for over forty computer games—my first real step into creative writing.

"In 1990 I left British Telecom and about a year later became a full-time freelance journalist, editor, and broadcaster. Aside from contributing to a growing list of magazines and newspapers, editing all sorts of publications, and editing-writing the world's first travel guides for smokers, I also spent a couple of years working alongside the cartoonist-humorist Frank Dickens (creator of 'Bristow') which resulted in my being commissioned to write a situation comedy for BBC-Radio 4 and my first Hollywood screenplay (which died).

"I would say that I never stopped learning about writing and that I am a very late starter. What motivates me are the idea, the challenge in turning that idea into a published reality, and the money. For years, my head has been buzzing with ideas for books and situation comedies, and the characters keep talking to me—usually screaming 'Free me, write the book!' Right now, I am attempting to reach the next stage in my career; that is, the creative period. It will probably all happen just as they're putting me into the coffin—but then I'll never stop trying."