About Tales Press

After establishing a cultural journalism project in southeastern Illinois called Tales from the General Store and publishing a periodic magazine of historical features about the general store era of the early 20th century for more than ten years, educator, writer and editor Ray Elliott started an offshoot publishing company in 1998 called Tales Press.

Its purpose is to continue and to extend the original project's mission of preserving the history and culture of the Midwest by publishing non-fiction memoirs and works of fiction that document and reveal something meaningful and worthwhile about the human condition.

About Ray Elliott

Ray ElliottRay Elliott, author of “Wild Hands Toward the Sky” and “Iwo Blasted Again,” has been a Marine, a farmer, an oilfield roughneck, a construction worker, a truck driver, a bartender and a high school and college English and journalism educator in American public high schools and universities for more than 25 years. He retired from the classroom temporarily in 1999 to write full time, then later edited the alumni publication and taught journalism at what is now the University of Illinois College of Media. In 2013, Ray served as the military advisor on Tim Rice and Lee Menzies' original London production of "From Here To Eternity: The Musical," based on the classic James Jones novel.

During his enlistment in the Marine Corps, he served in the infantry with Charlie Company, First Battalion, Seventh Regiment, First Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, Calif., as a brig guard and turnkey in the guard company at Sangley Point, Luzon, Republic of the Philippines, and in the artillery with India Company, Third Battalion, Tenth Regiment, Second Marine Division at Camp Lejuene, N.C.

As a journalist, he has been an editor, a publisher and an author of numerous works of nonfiction and has been a freelance writer since the early 1970s, in addition to writing a personal column that was carried by a dozen regional newspapers in Central and Southern Illinois throughout this time. The strong interviewing skills and frank observations of human actions and motivations he has gained by these experiences are reflected in his writing.

Elliott is a board member and former president of The James Jones Literary Society (a group that promotes public interest and academic research in the author’s World War II novels, including “From Here To Eternity”), an advisory board member of the Illinois Center for the Book, and a founding member of the Richard L. Pittman Marine Corps League in Urbana, Ill.

Elliott continues to work with and encourage aspiring writers of all ages to find those stories within their own lives that hold up a mirror to life and reveal aspects of life to which others can relate.

Recommended Reading

You can learn a lot about a person by what books he or she chooses to read. The following titles are among the books that have helped to shape who I am and how I view the world. I think these books reveal something significant about life, about people and about the human condition. I'll add to the list from time to time.

- Ray Elliott

  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • All Over but the Shoutin' by Rick Bragg
  • Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom
  • Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
  • The Education of Little Tree by Forrest Carter
  • Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
  • A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries by Kaylie Jones
  • From Here to Eternity by James Jones
  • The Thin Red Line by James Jones
  • Close Quarters by Larry Heinemann
  • Paco's Story by Larry Heinemann
  • One to Count Cadence by James Crumley
  • The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
  • My Dog Skip by Willie Morris
  • The Colony by John Bowers
  • Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt
  • Lucky Come Hawaii by Jon Shirota
  • The Island of Lost Maps by Miles Harvey
  • The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer
  • Sophie's Choice by William Styron
  • Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  • The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  • North Toward Home by Willie Morris
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
  • Pudd'nhead Wilson by Mark Twain