Evan Ratliff, a co-host of the Longform Podcast, discusses "The Oilman's Daughter," his new story in The Atavist.

"This woman was given the opportunity to take on a new identity. And it was a mistake. She never should've done it. If there was a way for her to go back and say, 'No, I don't want to know this. I want to be who I am,' then I think she should've taken that. … I'm fascinated with people who want to radically shift their identity. It almost never works out well."

Steve Kandell is the longform editor at BuzzFeed.

"What would be the sort of longer, narrative nonfiction, journalistic equivalent of something that would have the same effect on you as a bunch of cat GIFs? And not because it's cute, but it's the kind of thing that makes you go, 'OK, I need a lot of other people to see this.'"

Thanks to TinyLetter for sponsoring this week's episode.

</blockquote>

Nicholas Schmidle is a staff writer at The New Yorker.

"I was in a taxi, leaving Karachi to go attend this festival, and we started getting these very disturbing phone calls from newspaper reporters that didn't exist, all of them asking me to meet them at various places in Karachi. I had read enough about the Daniel Pearl case to know what happened in the days leading up, and this was very similar. ... We kept driving towards the festival, and shortly after that, friends started calling. They were watching local television, and it was being reported that 'Nicholas Shamble,' editor of Smithsonian Magazine, had been kidnapped. And I was like, 'All right, I get the hint.'"

Thanks to TinyLetter for sponsoring this week's episode.

</blockquote>

Chris Heath, winner of the 2013 National Magazine Award for Reporting, is a staff writer at GQ.

"I present myself as someone who is going to be rigorous and honest. And if you can engage in the way I'm asking you to engage, then I hope that you will recognize yourself in a more truthful way in this story than you usually do. And maybe even, with a bit of luck, more than you ever have before. That's what I bring. That's my offer."

Thanks to TinyLetter and the The Literary Reportage concentration at NYU's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute for sponsoring this week's episode.

</blockquote>

Jonathan Abrams covers the NBA for Grantland.

"Players know that with the stories I do I'm not trying to burn anybody. I'm trying to tell a story for what it's worth and be honest to that person. ...That's one of my main goals, that you know why this person is [a certain] way when they step on the court. You know why Monta Ellis is going to keep shooting the ball. You know why Zach Randolph is such a gritty player. What these guys have gone through growing up, it materializes in their game."

Thanks to this week's sponsor, TinyLetter!

</blockquote>

Margalit Fox is a senior obituary writer for The New York Times.

"You do get emotionally involved with people, even though as a journalist you're not supposed to. But as a human being, how can you not? Particularly people who had difficult, tragic, poignant lives. But there are also people that you just wish you had known. And, of course, the painful irony is that you're only getting to know them by virtue of the fact that it's too late."

Thanks to this week's sponsor, TinyLetter!

</blockquote>

Mat Honan is a senior writer at Wired.

"[The tech] industry—especially as it relates to a lot the silly apps and the silly websites and the silly shit that we put up with—is ridiculous. It's just such a hype fest, people living off of jargon and nonsense. There are entire conferences devoted to nonsense! ... I like to skewer that stuff, because I don't want to feel responsible for it. I don't want to feel like I'm making someone go out and buy some piece of shit they don't need."

Thanks to this week's sponsor, TinyLetter!

</blockquote>

Jonathan Shainin is senior editor at The Caravan in Delhi.

"Working in an environment that's foreign, where you have to kind of think through a lot of things from the ground up ... I find it to be really stimulating to have to interrogate the assumptions that you have as an editor about what's interesting and what's not interesting, what's a good story and what's a bad story, what's the story that's been done a million times already. When you get out of a place that is your place, you have to kind of think through some things in a fresh way. And that can be really productive."

Thanks to this week's sponsor, TinyLetter!

</blockquote>

Vanessa Grigoriadis is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and New York.

On the art of the celebrity interview: "People are smart. Particularly these people. They're sitting there thinking, 'When is she going to drop that question?' They know what you're doing. So the way I think about it is: let's have an actual, genuine, human, interesting conversation. ... [Journalists] have all sorts of schemes of what they think works for them. My scheme is no scheme."

Thanks to this week's sponsors, TinyLetter and Audible!

</blockquote>

Natasha Vargas-Cooper has written for GQ, Spin and BuzzFeed.

"Writing is the worst part of this gig for me. I hate sitting down and writing; it's being with my worst self. … But then, when it's over, it's the best. I have no greater joy than reading what I've published—with the exception of some editors who have fucked up my shit."</i>

Thanks to TinyLetter for sponsoring this week's episode!

</blockquote>

Ted Conover is the author of five books and the recent Harper's article "The Way of All Flesh."

"My identity is a rubber band. It can stretch that way and it can stretch this way. When I get home it goes mostly back into the shape it's been, but not completely. And it's that not completely that is interesting and makes me who I am."</i>

Thanks to TinyLetter for sponsoring this week's episode!

</blockquote>

Ann Friedman is a writer, editor and co-founder of Tomorrow.

"The notion of kissing up is super weird to me. You should always be kissing down and sideways, to the people who are going to be working alongside you and coming up behind you. I'm really aware of my impending irrelevance. ... I'm waiting for that day when I'm in dire need of work and 65 years old—because none of us are retiring, obviously—and I don't understand how to write on Google Glass or whatever we're composing on then. I want there to be some journalist who remembers when I got on the phone with her in 2013 and helped her negotiate for her first salary and throws me a fucking bone. I think about that moment a lot."</i>

Thanks to TinyLetter for sponsoring this week's episode!

</blockquote>

Patrick Symmes is a foreign correspondent and contributor to Outside and Harper's.

"They rolled us up like a cheap carpet. We were locked in a room for 14 hours. And for the first six hours that was okay. Everything was nice; there was coffee. But then the nightshift came on. You could hear gunshots in the street, and these guys were scared. And they were thugs. And they were thugs with a mission: to get rid of every foreigner who might witness what was happening."</i>

Thanks to TinyLetter for sponsoring this week's episode!

</blockquote>

Jay Caspian Kang is a writer and editor at Grantland.

"That's one of the things I've been learning: sometimes if you just sit there, they forget that you're there, so they forget to get rid of you. I'm very quiet and I try not to ask them a lot of questions. ... Generally I just observe. I feel like because I'm a fiction writer, the story will tell itself through the narrative of the person's movement through their daily life."</i>

Thanks to TinyLetter for sponsoring this week's episode!

</blockquote>

Molly Young is a freelance writer for GQ and New York.

"Writing a celebrity profile puts you in a position that no human being wants to be in: you are speaking with somebody, you know that they're lying to you, and you know that they know that they're lying to you. That's just the most humiliating position—it violates any human instinct for maintaining dignity."

Thanks to TinyLetter for sponsoring this week's episode!

Rolf Potts is a veteran travel writer.

"Instead of seeking out the stories, the stories sort of found me. I miss those days. I mean, I make more money from my writing now and I'm probably a better journalist. But having seven-day weeks to wander, month after month, for two years, was a great way to find real and spontaneous and human travel stories."</i>

Thanks to TinyLetter for sponsoring this week's episode!

</blockquote>

Jake Silverstein is editor-in-chief of Texas Monthly.

"Texas is not a frontier in the same way it was 150 years ago, but it still has a frontier mentality. And that's definitely true from a journalistic standpoint. ... You have more of a feeling that you're figuring things out for yourself. Which means that you make more mistakes, but you also have a little bit more leeway and freedom to find a certain path down here than you would if you were surrouded by other magazines and media companies."</i>

Thanks to TinyLetter for sponsoring this week's episode!

</blockquote>

Emily Nussbaum is a television critic at The New Yorker.

"I actually feel this kind of crazy cause ... because TV is condescended to, has been put down and treated like it's junk, and TV deserves to have the kind of criticism that expects it to be great. To me it's a really engaging and satisfying cause, no matter whether I'm praising or criticizing something."</i>

Thanks to TinyLetter for sponsoring this week's episode!

</blockquote>

Keith Gessen is the founding editor of n+1 and a contributor to The New Yorker.

"The founding editors are slowing down. We're not mad at anyone anymore. We think everything is great. ... But amazingly at n+1, we've had this younger generation of angry young women kind of rise up. Something has created space for young editors to come in and be really angry ... But that's holy, that's the thing that makes great writing: being angry."

Thanks to TinyLetter for sponsoring this week's episode!

</blockquote>

Matthew Power is a freelance writer and contributing editor at Harper's.

"The kind of stories I've gotten to do have involved fulfilling my childhood fantasies of having an adventurous life. Even though I don't make a ton of money doing it, I've never felt like I was missing out on something. I haven't worked in an office since a two-week stint as a fact checker at House and Garden magazine in 2001, so that's 12 years, and I haven't starved to death yet."

Thanks to TinyLetter for sponsoring this week's episode!

</blockquote>

Joel Lovell, deputy editor of The New York Times Magazine, interviewed live at the University of Pittsburgh.

"I think if you can make a writer feel like it's okay to not know what they're doing—they don't really know exactly what their story is, they're a little lost in their material—that's a fine place to be. If you can sort of talk it through, if you can minimize their anxiety a little bit, then I think you've done most of your job. After that it's just looking at the words and just figuring out which ones work."

Thanks to TinyLetter for sponsoring this week's episode!

</blockquote>

Joshua Topolsky is editor-in-chief of The Verge.

"Sometimes you tell stories that people don't know they need to read yet. You have to keep telling those kinds of stories, and eventually people will wake up to them. Of course we look at traffic. But the main thing is, are we doing good work? At the end of the week or the end of the day, do I think, that was awesome, I'm really glad we wrote that?"

Thanks to TinyLetter for sponsoring this week's episode!

</blockquote>

Jennifer Gonnerman is a contributing editor at New York and contributing writer for Mother Jones.

"How much do we really interact with people who are different from ourselves? We go to work, we go home, we go to a party—I feel like this is a fantastic opportunity to meet peope who are totally and completely different, from totally different worlds, backgrounds, interests, countries. It's almost like a passport to a different world with every story. Once you make that trip and go into someone's home and really listen to them, empathy is not that hard to come by."

Thanks to TinyLetter for sponsoring this week's episode!

</blockquote>

Susan Orlean is a staff writer at The New Yorker.

"There's always the fear, which comes with having done it for a long time, that you're repeating yourself. That's actually a genuine concern—you worry that you're becoming an imitiation of yourself ... The funny thing is that you spend the first half of your career wanting desperately to have a voice that's distinctive and recognizable, then you go to the other side of that and think oh my god, all my stories sound the same."

Thanks to TinyLetter and Digg for sponsoring this week's episode!

In this special episode with Stephen Rodrick, contributing writer at the New York Times Magazine and contributing editor at Men's Journal, Rodrick discusses his recent story "Here Is What Happens When You Cast Lindsay Lohan in Your Movie."

"Publicists don't want to give you access because they're afraid of what you're going to see. But if you spend enough time with anybody, short of Mussolini or Ghengis Khan, they're going to humanize themselves. Because they're human beings, like you are. And they have whatever demented battles they're fighting, their version of crazy, but if you get to spend some time with them as flesh and blood, they're going to come across as flesh and blood in the story."