Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book


Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Julia Keller  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Fiction Non-Fiction

Born: in Huntington, West Virginia

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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

Soon after its debut at the time of the Civil War, the Gatling gun changed the nature of warfare and the course of world history. Discharging 200 shots per minute with alarming accuracy, the world's first machine gun became vitally important to protecting and expanding America's overseas interests. Its inventor, Richard Gatling, was famous in his own time for creating and improving many industrial designs, from bicycles and steamship propellers to flush toilets, though it was the gun design that would make his name immortal. A man of great business and scientific acumen, Gating used all the resources of the new mass age to promote sales across America and around the world. Ironically, Gatling actually proposed his gun as a way of saving lives, thinking it would decrease the size of armies and, therefore, make it easier to supply soldiers and reduce malnutrition deaths. The scientists who unleashed America's atomic arsenal less than a century later would see it much the same way.

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

Book by Keller, Julia

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

Minotaur Books. 2014

Hunting an elusive killer who is terrorizing the citizens of Acker's Gap during a West Virginia summer, county prosecutor Bell Elkins and Sheriff Nick Fogelsong find the case complicated by a coal miner's secretive daughter and the prison release of Bell's sister. By the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Bitter River.

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

Minotaur Books. 2015

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, KirkusSummer of the Dead

Starred Review, KirkusLast Ragged Breath

Starred Review, KirkusSorrow Road

Starred Review, BooklistFast Falls the Night

Starred Review, Booklist, 2017

Starred Review, Kirkus, 2017Other Awards:

Pulitzer Prize for a feature written on the aftermath of the 2004 Utica, Illinois tornado, 2005