Hillary Clinton is the former Democratic nominee for president. Her new book is What Happened.

“I hugged a lot of people after [my concession speech] was over. A lot of people cried … and then it was done. So Bill and I went out and got in the back of the van that we drive around in, and I just felt like all of the adrenaline was drained. I mean there was nothing left. It was like somebody had pulled the plug on a bathtub and everything just drained out. I just slumped over. Sat there. … And then we got home, and it was just us as it has been for so many years—in our little house, with our dogs. It was a really painful, exhausting time.”

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Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah is an essayist. Her latest piece is “A Most American Terrorist: The Making of Dylann Roof.”

“I remember feeling like ‘you’re playing chess with evil, and you gotta win.’ Because this is the most terrible thing I’d ever seen. And I was so mad. I still get so mad. Words aren’t enough. I’m angry about it. I can’t do anything to Dylann Roof, physically, so this is what I could do.”

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Ellen Barry is the former New York Times bureau chief for South Asia.

“Every time you leave a beat—and this is something that I think as foreign correspondents we rarely communicate to our readers—you’re walking away from a story which has really been your whole life for four or five years. And it’s hard to walk away…The majority of us live a story for a certain number of years, and then we just turn our backs on it.”

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Kate Fagan is a columnist and feature writer for ESPN. Her latest book is What Made Maddy Run: The Secret Struggles and Tragic Death of an All-American Teen.

“When I was professionally closeted, I was kind of bitter. I didn’t have a ton of empathy. And I don’t think I always asked the right question, because I wouldn’t ask people questions that I wouldn’t want to be asked…I had walls up. I wouldn’t even allow myself to be vulnerable in my writing. Because the whole point of my existence at that time was to circumvent any moment that could create vulnerability in a way that would frighten me. And I think you could that see in my writing.”

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Jay Caspian Kang is a writer at large at The New York Times Magazine and a correspondent for Vice News Tonight.

“I make a pretty provocative argument about how Asian American identity doesn’t really exist—how it’s basically just an academic idea, and it’s not lived within the lives of anybody who’s Asian. Like you grow up, you’re Korean, you’re a minority. You don’t have any sort of kinship with, like, Indian kids. You know? And there’s no cultural sharedness where you’re just like, ‘oh yeah…Asia!’”

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David Gessner is the author of ten books. His latest is Ultimate Glory: Frisbee, Obsession, and My Wild Youth.

“The ambition got in my way at first. Because I wanted my stuff to be great, and it froze me up. But later on it was really helpful. I’m startled by the way people don’t, you know, admit [they care] … it seems unlikely people wouldn’t want to be immortal.”

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Matthew Klam is a journalist and fiction writer. His new novel is Who Is Rich?.

“The New Yorker had hyped me with this “20 Under 40” thing…and when the tenth anniversary of that list [came], somebody wrote an article about it. And they found everybody in it, and I was the only one who hadn’t done anything since then, according to them. And the article, it was a little paragraph or two, it ended with ‘poor Matthew Klam.’”

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Maggie Haberman covers the White House for The New York Times.

“If I start thinking about it, then I’m not going to be able to just keep doing my job. I'm being as honest as I can — I try not to think about it. If you’re flying a plane and you think about the fact that if the plane blows up in midair you’re gonna die, do you feel like you can really focus as well? So, I’m not thinking about [the stakes]. This is just my job. This is what we do. Ask me another question.”

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Steven Levy covers technology for Wired, where he is the editor of Backchannel.

“It’s about people. Travis Kalanick’s foibles aren’t because he’s a technology executive. It’s because he’s Travis Kalanick. That’s the way he is. There is a certain strain in Silicon Valley, which rewards totally driven people, but that is humanity. And advanced technology is no guarantee—and as a matter of fact I don’t think it’ll do anything—from stopping ill-intentioned people from doing ill-intentioned things.”

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Mark Bowden is a journalist and the author of 13 books, including Black Hawk Down and his latest, Hue 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam.

“My goal is never to condemn someone that I’m writing about. It’s always to understand them. And that, to me, is far more interesting than passing judgment on them. I want you to read about Che Thi Mung, an 18-year-old village girl, who was selling hats on corners in Hue in the daytime and going home and sharpening spikes to go into booby traps to try and kill American soldiers and ARVN soldiers in the evening. I want to understand why she would do that, why she would be so motivated to do that. And I think I did.”

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Brian Reed, a senior producer at This American Life, is the host of S-Town.

“It’s a story about the remarkableness of what could be called an unremarkable life.”

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Ginger Thompson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning senior reporter at ProPublica. Her most recent article is "How the U.S. Triggered a Massacre in Mexico."

“How many times have I written the phrase ‘a town that was controlled by drug traffickers?' I had no idea what that really meant. What does it mean to live in a town that’s controlled by drug traffickers? And how does it get that way? One of the things I was hoping that we could do by having the people who actually lived through that explain it to us was that—to bring you close to that and say, ‘No, here’s what that means.’”

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Patricia Lockwood is a poet and essayist. Her new book is Priestdaddy: A Memoir.

“[Prose writing is] strange to me as a poet. I’m like, ‘Well I guess I’ll tell you just what happened then.’ But the humor has to be there as well. Because in my family household…the absurdity or the surrealism that we have is in reaction to the craziness of the household. So something like your underwear-clad father with his hand in a vat of pickles, sitting in a room full of $10,000 guitars and telling you that he can’t afford to send you to college—that’s bad. That’s a sad scene. But it’s also totally a lunatic scene. It’s, just the very fact of it, all these accoutrements, all the elements of the scene—they are funny.”

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John Grisham is the author of 38 books, including his latest novel, Camino Island.

A Time to Kill didn’t sell. It just didn’t sell. There was never any talk of going back for a second printing. No talk of paper back. No foreign deal. It was a flop. And I told my wife, I said, ‘Look, I’m gonna do it one more time. I’m gonna write one more book…hopefully something more commercial, more accessible, more popular. If this doesn’t work, forget this career. Forget this hobby. I’m just gonna be a lawyer and get on with it.’”

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Erin Lee Carr is a documentary filmmaker and writer. Her new film is Mommy Dead and Dearest.

“I feel like I’ve always had the story down—that’s not been really difficult for me. So the difficult thing, I think, for me, has always been access. Can I get the access? Can I withstand the pressure? You know, there’s been so many times where I wasn’t being paid to do the job, and I had to wait on the access. And it’s not for the faint of heart. You know, I could have spent a year and a half of my life doing [Mommy Dead and Dearest] and I could’ve not gotten the access to Gypsy, and it kind of would’ve been a wash.”

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Ariel Levy is a staff writer at The New Yorker and the author of The Rules Do Not Apply.

“I don’t believe in ‘would this’ and ‘would that.’ There’s no ‘everything happens for a reason.’ Everything happens, and then you just fucking deal. I mean we could play that game with everything, but time only moves in one direction. That’s a bad game. You shouldn’t play that game—you’ll break your own heart.”

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Jeffrey Gettleman is the East Africa Bureau Chief for the New York Times and the author of Love, Africa: A Memoir of Romance, War, and Survival.

“I’m not an adventure-seeking adrenaline junky. I like to explore new worlds, but I’m not one of these chain-smoking, hard-drinking, partying types that just wants thrills all the time. And unfortunately that’s an aspect of the job. And as I get older and I’ve been through more and more, the question gets louder. Which is: Why do you keep doing this? Because you feel like you only have so many points, and eventually the points are going to run out.”

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Rafe Bartholomew is the former features editor at Grantland and the author of Two and Two: McSorley’s, My Dad, and Me.

“I never saw it as something negative because [my dad] comes out, to me, at the end, extremely heroic. … He becomes this dad who I idolized as a bartender, a guy who would hang out with me and make me laugh, a guy I just adored almost every step of the way. I mean, of course, everybody gets into fights. But to me it was always so obvious that he had overcome the problems in his childhood, he’d overcome his own drinking problem, he’d done all these things, and by the time I was older, he’d even found a way to get back into writing and self-publish a couple of books of poems about the bar. So he’s sort of managed to tick off all those goals, just maybe not on the same schedule, maybe not in the most normal way.”

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Nick Bilton is a special correspondent for Vanity Fair and the author of American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road.

“I’ve been covering tech for a long, long time. And the thing I’ve always tried to do is cover the people of the tech culture, not the tech itself. … I've always been interested in the good and bad side of technology. A lot of times the problem in Silicon Valley is that people come up with a good idea that’s supposed to do a good thing—you know, to change the world and make it a better place. And it ends up inevitably having a recourse that they don’t imagine.”

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Samin Nosrat is a food writer, educator, and chef. Her new book is Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking.

“I kind of couldn’t exist as just a cook or a writer. I kind of need to be both. Because they fulfill these two totally different parts of myself and my brain. Cooking is really social, it’s very physical, and also you don’t have any time to become attached to your product. You hand it off and somebody eats it, and literally tomorrow it’s shit. … Whereas with writing, it’s the exact opposite. It’s super solitary. It’s super cerebral. And you have all the time in the world to get attached to your thing and freak out about it.”

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Sarah Menkedick is a freelance writer and the founder of Vela. Her upcoming book is Homing Instincts: Early Motherhood on a Midwestern Farm.

“I’d been rejected a ton of times—I had that 400-page thing that never became a book. So there were plenty of epic rejections that felt catastrophic. And I’d sort of arrived at this point where I was like: I’m living in my parents' cabin, and I’m pregnant, so whatever. Fuck it. I’m gonna write whatever I want to write.”

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David Grann is a staff writer at The New Yorker. His new book is Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI.

“The more stories I reported over time, the more I just realized there are parts of the story I can’t always get to. You know, unless this is a reality show and there’s 18 cameras in every room, and people [talk] before they sleep, and maybe you have some mind-bug in their brain for their unconscious, there are just parts you’re just not gonna know. You get as close as you can. And so the struggle to me is to get as close as I can, to peel it back as close as I can, but understanding that there will be elements, there will be pieces, that will remain lingering doubts.”

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Alex Kotlowitz is a journalist whose work has appeared in print, radio, and film. He’s the author of three books, including There Are No Children Here: The Story of Two Boys Growing Up in the Other America.

“The truth of the matter is, given what we do, we’re always outsiders. If it’s not by race or class, it’s by gender, religion, politics. It’s just the nature of being a nonfiction writer—going into communities that, at some level, feel unfamiliar. If you’re writing about stuff you already know about, where’s the joy in that? Where’s the sense of discovery? Why bother?”

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Brian Reed, a senior producer at This American Life, is the host of S-Town.

“It’s a story about the remarkableness of what could be called an unremarkable life.”

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Hrishikesh Hirway is the host of Song Exploder.

“I love the idea that somebody would listen to an episode [of Song Exploder] and then the feeling that they would have afterwards is, ‘Now I want to make something.’ That’s the best possible reaction. Whether it’s music or not, just that idea: ‘I want to make something.’ Because that is the thing that I love most, getting that feeling.”

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