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.”