Pulitzer-winner Studs Terkel calls Elder “a journalist in the noblest tradition” in his introduction to Elder’s book, Last Words of the Executed.
His latest book is Hidden Hemingway: Inside the Ernest Hemingway Archives of Oak Park. Author Scott Turow (Presumed Innocent) called the work, “An invaluable book for anyone interested in Hemingway or the development of a major creative mind.”
Garrison Keillor lauded the work, writing: “…it’s a privilege to look through [Hemingway’s] closet and read his stuff and discover him as a mortal man.”
Elder’s 2013 book, The Best Film You’ve Never Seen, was championed by film critic Roger Ebert, who wrote: “How necessary this book is! And how well-judged and written! Some of the best films ever made, as Elder proves, are lamentably all but unknown.”
Dead Man Walking author Sister Helen Prejean called Last Words of the Executed, “a dangerous book.” Last Words of the Executed received rave reviews in The Economist, Harper’s Magazine, and The New York Review of Books, among many other outlets. The New Yorker called it, “…A harrowing portrait of our justice system.”
Praise for Elder’s 2011 book The Film That Changed My Life came from the Chicago Tribune’s Michael Phillips, who called the book, “A great and provocative read…it’s addictive.” Film critic Leonard Maltin also said, “You’ll have a hard time putting this book down.”
Elder’s work has appeared in The New York Times, MSNBC.com, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, Salon.com, The Oregonian and many other publications. For more than a decade, he served as a staff writer at the Chicago Tribune and from 2010 to 2012, he worked as a regional editor for the AOL Huffington Post Media Group’s hyperlocal news initiative, Patch.com. In 2012, Elder served as the founding managing editor of DNAinfo Chicago before joining the Chicago Sun-Times in 2013.
In June of 2013, he was named editor-in-chief of Sun-Times Media Local, overseeing 36 suburban Chicago publications, including: Aurora Beacon News, the Naperville Sun, the Elgin Courier News, the Lake County News-Sun and the 32 weeklies of the Pioneer Press group. In 2014, he was named Vice President of Digital Content, founding a guest editor program featuring people such as Smashing Pumpkins founder Billy Corgan, comedian Bert Kreischer and astronaut Jim Lovell. Elder also started a podcast network at the Sun-Times, hosting “The Big Questions,” one of four initial shows.
In 2015, he joined Crain Communications Inc. as Director of Digital Product Development & Strategy. At Crain, Elder identifies opportunities and leads the development of new Web, app, mobile and social products to expand the company’s digital footprint.
Elder is also the founder of Odd Hours Media LLC, which specializes in crowdsourcing, social media and TV production. In late 2012, Elder and his agents at William Morris Endeavor signed a development deal with Towers Productions in Chicago to produce television based on an original idea from his body of work. Odd Hours has since partnered with GRB (“Intervention”) and the Michael Group to produce unscripted television projects.
In addition, Odd Hours Media produces the user-generated sites ItWasOverWhen.com: Tales of Romantic Dead Ends and ItWasLoveWhen.com: Tales from the Beginning of Love. Both sites went viral very quickly, attracting more than 1 million hits within a few months. In late 2009, Sourcebooks signed the sites to a two-book deal.
Elder is also the editor of John Woo: Interviews, the first authoritative chronicle of the filmmaker’s life, legacy and career. He has also contributed to books on poker, comic books and film design. A former member of the Chicago Film Critics Association, Elder has taught film classes at Facets Film School.
Elder serves on the boards of the Society of Professional Journalists Headline Club and the Chicago Writers Conference. He is also member of the Society of Midland Authors, the American Historical Association, the Melville Society and the Ernest Hemingway Society.
A Montana native and graduate of the University of Oregon, Elder lives and writes in Chicagoland.
He has been known to carry a digital voice recorder.
Here he is on NBC’s “Last Call with Carson Daly.”