Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Ray Elliott  

Pen Name: None


Audience: Adult;

Born: N/A

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-- Ray Elliott on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Elliott resides in Urbana.

Biographical and Professional Information

Ray Elliott is a novelist, editor and publisher of historical fiction and memoir-primarily dealing with life in the Midwest, and World War II and its aftermath. He is best known for his historical fiction about the World War II-era American home front (''Wild Hands Toward the Sky'') and an aging Iwo Jima combat veteran’s final days (''Iwo Blasted Again''), in addition to his periodic columns published in Champaign-Urbana’s News-Gazette and his online blog. An English and journalism teacher at the high school and college levels for many years, Elliott also worked as a counselor for a time at the maximum-security Menard Correctional Center in southern Illinois. Elliott is an advocate and volunteer for civic, literary and veterans support organizations. He has traveled to numerous World War II sites in the Pacific and in Europe, and is a board member and editor of The Spearhead News for the Fifth Marine Division Association, which includes Iwo Jima among its campaigns. He is a board member of The James Jones Literary Society, a member of the the Illinois Center for the Book advisary committee, and the Richard L. Pittman Marine Corps League in Urbana-Champaign. He has also served as a past-president of the James Jones Literary Society and a Road Scholar for the Illinois Humanities Council. In the recent Tim Rice-produced musical, ''From Here To Eternity'', Elliott served as military adviser.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Wild Hands Toward the Sky
ISBN: 0964142376

Tales Press. 2003

A coming-of-age story of the time during and after World War II, Wild Hands Toward the Sky introduces young, fatherless John Walter McElligott as he grows up -- lonesome and longing -- in a rural Illinois farm community. He and his mother now live with his aunt and uncle, but he is inescapably drawn to the other men of the area who served in the war and returned -- especially his older cousin, Sam, who was injured during the D-Day invasion and fought on through Europe until the end of the war. Out of their own respect for John Walters father, who was killed on Guadalcanal, these veterans treat the boy with a calculated deference and are compelled to teach him their hard-earned lessons about life, responsibility, duty and honor.

Iwo Blasted Again
ISBN: 0964142384

Tales Press. 2006

Iwo Jima Marine veteran Jack Britton has carried the horror of combat and the loss of his young wife and his buddies with him for the past 60 years. Now, in the last 36 hours of his life in a hospital intensive care unit, he revisits those aspects of his life and grapples with his long-suffering questions about fate and self-doubt through a psychological phenomenon known as sundown syndrome.

With The Silent Knowledge
ISBN: 0996767207

Tales Press. 2015

Michael Callahan was serving his third stint in prison, but he wasn't a bad man, really. In fact, he was smart and talented and came from a rather privileged upbringing. But he also happened to be an alcoholic with sociopathic tendencies meaning he didn't particularly care whether he did something wrong if it served his purpose like getting more money to extend his drinking binges. So he forged checks among unsuspecting and unthinking victims, and this time, he wound up with a one-to-five-year sentence in a maximum-security prison in southern Illinois.

Prisons whether in the 1970s, when this story takes place, or present day are built as society's way of removing the unlawful and the downright dangerous from the law-abiding and relatively peaceful citizenry. Some may also say they are places where a percentage of those incarcerated have the potential to actually endure prison life and become rehabilitated, ready for re-entry into society one day.

Michael Callahan's story will argue that many of those who perpetrate non-violent criminal behavior aren't being given any favors by being thrown into an over-crowded, under-staffed prison environment of power and deal-making just to get along. Instead of administering the kind of psychological and medical help that many of these people really need to have even as much as a glimmer of a chance to break their illegal behavior patterns and one day rejoin society, they are simply dropped into an environment to fend for themselves and harden themselves even further against the outside world.

But that doesn't mean Michael Callahan won't try to outsmart and outlast the conditions that only beat him down before he can try to make parole. And perhaps with the help of Blaine, a well-meaning counselor who recognizes Callahan's real potential beneath the veneer of his intellectual gamesmanship, maybe there is that small glimmer of a chance that he can finally get the help he needs.


Ray was honored at the 2004 Illinois Authors Book Fair sponsored by the Illinois Center for the Book and the Illinois State Library in Springfield, Illinois.

Speaking Engagements

Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)

Contact Information Publisher Tales Press 2609 N. High Cross Road Urbana, Illinois 61802-9643 217-384-5820