Author of both nonfiction and fiction books, in genres ranging from mysteries to science fiction to stories for young adults, Julia was born and raised in Huntington, West Virginia. She has a Ph.D. in English Literature from the Ohio State University, and has taught at Princeton University, the University of Chicago, and the University of Notre Dame. Among her awards is the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing.
She was the chief book critic and a staff writer at The Chicago Tribune for many years, before leaving the world of daily journalism to write books. Her critically acclaimed mystery series, set in her home state of West Virginia, features prosecutor Belfa Elkins. New York Times bestselling novelist Michael Connelly calls Elkins "one of the most fully realized characters in fiction today."
I was born and raised in West Virginia, the daughter of a college mathematics professor and a high school English teacher. We lived, at one time, within sight and sound of the Ohio River; that river still moves through my memories, and in my dreams I can hear the long, melancholy honk of the coal barges signaling their approach.
After graduating from Marshall University, I headed north to Columbus, Ohio, where I worked for the local newspaper and earned a doctoral degree in English Literature at Ohio State University. There is no better training ground for a writer than a job as a general assignment reporter. The whole mad cavalcade of human affairs passes right before your eyes—rather like the Ohio River does, when you watch it from a spot on the riverbank.
And then it was on to Chicago. I won the Pulitzer Prize for a three-part series in the Chicago Tribune about a deadly tornado that struck a small town in Illinois. I spent a year at Harvard as a Nieman Fellow, and broke up my newspaper career from time to time to teach at places such as Princeton, Notre Dame, and the University of Chicago.
Now I write, and I listen for the sound of those coal barges in my imagination as they—in a passage from my first mystery novel—“ride the river’s brushed-nickel back.”
To learn more about my hometown, listen to my conversation with National Public Radio’s Noah Adams:
--Barnes and Noble
"A joy to read"
Julia also writes a science-fiction series set in the 23rd century called The Dark Intercept.
©Copyright 2021 - Julia Keller. All rights reserved.