Sarah A. Topol is a writer-at-large for The New York Times Magazine. Her latest feature is ”Is Taiwan Next?”

”I think you never actually ask people head-on about what they've been through. You always ask people to just tell you what they want to tell you about anything that has happened to them…. This event that happened to you, it doesn't define you. It’s not why I'm here necessarily. Like, tell me about your childhood. Tell me about your life. Tell me about the things you think are important in your community. And by the time we get to the traumatic part, I hope they've seen enough of who I am and how I interview to feel comfortable telling me that they don't want to talk about certain things.”

Courtney’s Story

Three years ago, college football was rocked by a domestic violence scandal that ended with Ohio State firing assistant coach Zach Smith and suspending head coach Urban Meyer. Both men have since reinvented their images and careers. But what about Courtney Smith, the woman who said she had been abused for years by Smith while he coached at Ohio State? This is her story.

Perdition Days: On Experiencing Psychosis

But the more that I tried to remind myself of the various ways in which I did, in fact, seem to have a body that was moving, with a heart that pumped blood, the more agitated I became. Being dead butted up against the so-called evidence of being alive, and so I grew to avoid that evidence because proof was not a comfort; instead, it pointed to my insanity.

Lawrence Wright is an author, screenwriter, playwright, and a staff writer for The New Yorker.

”There’s nothing more important about a person than their story. In a way, that’s who we are. And yet, memories fade and people die. So those stories disappear and the job of the journalist is to go out before that happens and accumulate the kinds of stories that are going to help us understand who we are, why we are, where we are right now in time, and try to thread those stories into a coherent narrative. In a way, you give it a kind of immortality. And that’s a big job. It’s a great privilege.”