Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book


Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Julia Keller  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Fiction Non-Fiction

Audience: Adult; Young Adult;

Born: in Huntington, West Virginia


-- Website -- http://www.juliakeller.net/
-- Julia Keller on WorldCat -- http://www.worldcat.org/search?q=julia+keller


Illinois Connection

Julia lived and worked in Chicago.

Biographical and Professional Information

Julia Keller has a doctoral degree in English literature at Ohio State University. She was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard, and she's taught at the University of Chicago, Notre Dame, and Princeton. During her journalism career, she worked at ''The Ashland Daily Independent'' in Ashland, Ky.; ''The Columbus Dispatch'' in Columbus, Ohio; and ''The Chicago Tribune''.Keller joined the Chicago Tribune in 1998 and is a longtime cultural critic there, a position that was created explicitly for her. In 2005, she won the Pulitzer Prize for a feature she wrote on the aftermath of a 2004 tornado that ravaged Utica, Illinois. Keller is also guest essayist on the PBS program ''The Newshour with Jim Lehrer.''She now lives in Ohio.


Published Works Expand for more information


Titles At Your Library

Mr. Gatling's Terrible Marvel: The Gun That Changed Everything and the Misunderstood Genius Who Invented It
ISBN: B001IDZJWW

Viking Adult. 0

Back Home
ISBN: 1606840053

EgmontUSA. 2009

“I guess you would call us a normal family. Once a month, and sometimes other times, too, Dad would be gone for a few days. Mom told us that he was in the National Guard. We were normal, you could say. And then we weren’t.”

Rachel “Brownie” Browning is thirteen when her father comes back from the war in Iraq. Of course she understands that he has been injured and that he will be a little different, at least for a while. But Brownie doesn’t even know the man with a prosthetic arm and leg who sits in the living room day after day. He’s certainly not the father who helped her build a fort in her backyard, or played basketball with her sister, or hauled her little brother around like a sack of potatoes.

Brownie’s mother says that because of his traumatic brain injury, their father needs their affection and patience. In time, he’ll be better–Dad will be back. But Dad doesn’t seem to be making much progress, or much effort. He doesn’t smile. He doesn’t talk. He won’t even get out of his wheelchair, even though the doctors have taught him how and say that walking is essential to his recovery. And Brownie begins to wonder, will her family ever be able to return to the way life was before the war?

A story about an ordinary family forced to deal with an extraordinary loss, Back Home tells the tale of families scarred and the battle just beginning when their wounded loved ones return home.

The Dark Intercept
ISBN: 076538762X

Tor Teen. 2017

The Dark Intercept by Julia Keller is the beginning of a “riveting” (Emmy Laybourne) science fiction adventure that challenges the voluntary surrender of liberties for the perception of safety.

When the state controls your emotions, how hard will you fight to feel free?

In a radiant world of endless summer, the Intercept keeps the peace. Violet Crowley, the sixteen-year-old daughter of New Earth’s Founding Father, has spent her life in comfort and safety. Her days are easy thanks to the Intercept, a crime-prevention device that monitors emotion. But when her long-time crush, Danny Mayhew, gets into a dangerous altercation on Old Earth, Violet launches a secret investigation to find out what he's hiding. An investigation that will lead her to question everything she's ever known about Danny, her father, and the power of the Intercept.

Much like the device itself, The Dark Intercept will get under your skin.

The Dark Intercept grabbed me from the first page and shook me until the last.” ―Emmy Laybourne, author of Berserker, Sweet, and the Monument 14 trilogy

“A rare, literary feat.” ―Gennifer Albin, New York Times bestselling author of the Crewel World trilogy

The Dark Intercept is a Library and Information Technology Association (LITA) Excellence in Children’s and Young Adult Science Fiction Notable List selection!

A Killing in the Hills (Bell Elkins Novels)
ISBN: 1250003482

Minotaur Books. 2012

In A Killing in the Hills, a powerful, intricate debut from Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Julia Keller, a mother and a daughter try to do right by a town and each other before it's too late.

What's happening in Acker's Gap, West Virginia? Three elderly men are gunned down over their coffee at a local diner, and seemingly half the town is there to witness the act. Still, it happened so fast, and no one seems to have gotten a good look at the shooter. Was it random? Was it connected to the spate of drug violence plaguing poor areas of the country just like Acker's Gap? Or were Dean Streeter, Shorty McClurg, and Lee Rader targeted somehow?

One of the witnesses to the brutal incident was Carla Elkins, teenaged daughter of Bell Elkins, the prosecuting attorney for Raythune County, WV. Carla was shocked and horrified by what she saw, but after a few days, she begins to recover enough to believe that she might be uniquely placed to help her mother do her job.

After all, what better way to repair their fragile, damaged relationship? But could Carla also end up doing more harm than good―in fact, putting her own life in danger?

Bitter River: A Novel (Bell Elkins Novels)
ISBN: 1250003490

Minotaur Books. 2013

In the next stunning novel from Pulitzer Prize-winning Julia Keller, following the popular A Killing in the Hills, a pregnant teenager is found murdered at the bottom of a river.

Phone calls before dawn are never good news. And when you're the county's prosecuting attorney, calls from the sheriff are rarely good news, either. So when Bell Elkins picks up the phone she already knows she won't like what she's about to hear, but she's still not prepared for this: 16-year-old Lucinda Trimble's body has been found at the bottom of Bitter River. And Lucinda didn't drown―she was dead before her body ever hit the water.

With a case like that, Bell knows the coming weeks are going to be tough. But that's not all Bell is coping with these days. Her daughter is now living with Bell's ex-husband, hours away. Sheriff Nick Fogelsong, one of Bell's closest friends, is behaving oddly. Furthermore, a face from her past has resurfaced for reasons Bell can't quite figure. Searching for the truth, both behind Lucinda's murder and behind her own complicated relationships, will lead Bell down a path that might put her very life at risk.

In Bitter River, Pulitzer Prize-winner Julia Keller once again weaves a compelling, haunting mystery against the stark beauty and extreme poverty of a small West Virginia mountain town.

Summer of the Dead: A Novel (Bell Elkins Novels)
ISBN: 1250044731

Minotaur Books. 2014

High summer in Acker's Gap, West Virginia―but no one's enjoying the rugged natural landscape. Not while a killer stalks the small town and its hard-luck inhabitants. County prosecutor Bell Elkins and Sheriff Nick Fogelsong are stymied by a murderer who seems to come and go like smoke on the mountain. At the same time, Bell must deal with the return from prison of her sister, Shirley―who, like Bell, carries the indelible scars of a savage past.

In Summer of the Dead, the third Julia Keller mystery chronicling the journey of Bell Elkins and her return to her Appalachian hometown, we also meet Lindy Crabtree―a coal miner's daughter with dark secrets of her own, secrets that threaten to explode into even more violence.

Acker's Gap is a place of loveliness and brutality, of isolation and fierce attachments―a place where the dead rub shoulders with the living, and demand their due.

Last Ragged Breath: A Novel (Bell Elkins Novels)
ISBN: 125004474X

Minotaur Books. 2015

From the night-black depths of a coalmine to the sun-struck peaks of the Appalachian Mountains, from a riveting murder mystery to a poignant meditation on the meaning of love and family, the latest novel in the critically acclaimed series strikes out for new territory: the sorrow and outrage that spring from a real-life chapter in West Virginia history.

Royce Dillard doesn't remember much about the day his parents-and one hundred and twenty-three other souls-died in the 1972 Buffalo Creek disaster. He was only two years old when he was ripped from his mother's arms. But now Dillard, who lives off the grid with only a passel of dogs for company, is fighting for his life one more time: He's on trial for murder.

Prosecutor Bell Elkins faces her toughest challenge yet in this haunting story of vengeance, greed and the fierce struggle for social justice. Richly imagined, vividly written and deeply felt, Julia Keller's Last Ragged Breath is set in West Virginia, but it really takes place in a land we all know: the country called home.

Sorrow Road: A Novel (Bell Elkins Novels)
ISBN: 1250089581

Minotaur Books. 2016

In 1944, three young men from a small town in West Virginia are among the American forces participating in D-Day, changing the fortunes of the war with one bold stroke. How is that moment aboard a Navy ship as it barrels toward the Normandy shore related to the death of an old man in an Appalachian nursing home seventy-two years later?

In Sorrow Road, the latest mystery from Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Julia Keller, two stories―one set in the turbulent era of World War II and one in the present day―are woven together to create a piercingly poignant tale of memory and family, of love and murder.

Bell Elkins, prosecuting attorney in Acker’s Gap, West Virginia, is asked by an old acquaintance to look into the death of her beloved father in an Alzheimer’s care facility. Did he die of natural causes―or was something more sinister to blame? And that’s not the only issue with which Bell is grappling: Her daughter Carla has moved back home. But something’s not right. Carla is desperately hiding a secret.

Once again, past and present, good and evil, and revenge and forgiveness clash in a riveting story set in the shattered landscape of Acker’s Gap, where the skies can seem dark even at high noon, and the mountains lean close to hear the whispered lament of the people trapped in their shadow.

Fast Falls the Night: A Bell Elkins Novel (Bell Elkins Novels)
ISBN: 1250089611

Minotaur Books. 2017

Based on a real-life event, Pulitzer Prize-winner Julia Keller’s latest Bell Elkins novel Fast Falls the Night takes place in a single 24-hour period, unfurling against the backdrop of a shattering personal revelation that will change Bell’s life forever.

The first drug overdose comes just after midnight, when a young woman dies on the dirty floor of a gas station bathroom. To the people of the small town of Acker’s Gap, West Virginia, it is just another tragedy. It is sad―but these days, depressingly familiar.

But then there is another overdose. And another. And another.

Prosecutor Bell Elkins soon realizes that her Appalachian hometown is facing its starkest challenge yet: a day of constant heroin overdoses from a batch tainted with a lethal tranquilizer. While the clock ticks and the bodies fall, Bell and her colleagues desperately track the source of the deadly drug―and engage in fierce debates over the wisdom of expending precious resources to save the lives of self-destructive addicts.


Awards

A Killing in the Hills

  • ILLINOIS READS Book List, Illinois Reading Council, 2014
  • Bitter River

  • Starred Review, Booklist
  • Starred Review, Kirkus
  • Summer of the Dead

  • Starred Review, Kirkus
  • Last Ragged Breath

  • Starred Review, Kirkus
  • Sorrow Road

  • Starred Review, Booklist
  • Fast Falls the Night

  • Starred Review, Booklist, 2017
  • Starred Review, Kirkus, 2017
  • Other Awards

    Speaking Engagements

    Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)