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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Direct download: Ep._242_-_Sarah_Menkedick.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:36pm EDT

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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Direct download: Ep._241_-_David_Grann.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:54pm EDT

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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Direct download: Ep._240_-_Alex_Kotlowitz.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:12pm EDT

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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Direct download: Ep._239_-_Brian_H._Reed.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:11pm EDT

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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Direct download: Ep._238_-_Hrishikesh_Hirway.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:11pm EDT

Sheelah Kolhatkar is a staff writer at The New Yorker and the author of Black Edge: Inside Information, Dirty Money, and the Quest to Bring Down the Most Wanted Man on Wall Street.

“Suddenly the financial crisis happened and all this stuff that had been hidden from view came out into the open. It was like, ‘Oh, this was actually all kind of a big façade.’ And there was all this fraud and stealing and manipulation and corruption, and all these other things going on underneath the whole shiny rock star surface. And that really also demonstrated to people how connected business stories, or anything to do with money, are to everything else going on. I mean, really almost everything that happens in our world, if you trace it back to its source, it’s money at the root of it.”

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Direct download: Ep._237_-_Sheelah_Kolhatkar.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:15pm EDT

Al Baker is a crime reporter at The New York Times, where he writes the series “Murder in the 4-0.”

“When there’s a murder in a public housing high rise, there’s a body on the floor. Jessica White in a playground, on a hot summer night. Her children saw it. Her body fell by a bench by a slide. You look up and there’s hundreds of windows, representing potentially thousands of eyes, looking down on that like a fishbowl. …They’re seeing it through the window and they can see that there’s a scarcity of response. And then they measure that against the police shooting that happened in February when there were three helicopters in the air and spotlights shining down on them all night and hundreds of officers with heavy armor going door to door to door to find out who shot a police officer. They can see the difference between a civilian death and an officer death.”

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Direct download: Ep._236_-_Al_Baker.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:20pm EDT

Caity Weaver is a staff writer at GQ.

“I always try to remember: you don’t have to tell people what you’re not good at. You don’t have to remind them of what you’re not doing well or what your weak points are. Don’t apologize for things immediately. Always give a little less information than they need. Don’t overshare.”

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Direct download: Ep._235_-_Caity_Weaver.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:36pm EDT

Matthew Cole is an investigative reporter at The Intercept, where he recently published “The Crimes of Seal Team 6.”

“I’ve gotten very polite and very impolite versions of ‘go fuck yourself.’ I used to have a little sheet of paper where I wrote down those responses just as the vernacular that was given to me: ‘You’re a shitty reporter, and I don’t talk to shitty reporters.’ You know, I’ve had some very polite ones, [but] I’ve had people threaten me with their dogs. Some of it is absolutely cold.”

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Direct download: Ep._234_-_Matthew_Cole.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:23pm EDT

Alexis C. Madrigal is an editor-at-large for Fusion, where he’s producing the upcoming podcast, Containers.

“Sometimes you think like, 'Man the media business is the worst. This is so hard.' When you spend time with all these other business people, you probably are going to say, ‘Capitalism is the worst. This is hard.’ Competition that’s linked to global things is so hard because global companies are locked in this incredible efficiency battle that just drives all of the slack out of the system. Like media, there’s no slack left, and I don’t know where things go after that.”

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Direct download: Ep._233_-_Alexis_Madrigal.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:58pm EDT