This week, we revisit the first interview The Renegade Newsletter ever did with a writer: Freelance journalist Ariel Ramchandani.
We loved her story When the Devil Enters that was published in the Atavist Magazine in 2016. It’s this week’s feature story in the Renegade Newsletter. Ramchandani is based in Brooklyn and mostly writes magazine stories for publication such as Pacific Standard, Wired, and the Atavist Magazine.
We spoke to Ramchandani about the story, the time she spent reporting in Italy and the crazy tale that was the story. You can listen to the interview or read some of the best moments below along with some other great long reads.
Here’s an excerpt of Ramchandani’s story:
For Spinnato, the discovery of electromagnetic waves replaced the devil with something more scientific, and it fit with his experience and with what he witnessed. “We talk about superstition and magic,” he said, “but if you live [through the fires], you find that magic doesn’t exist, superstition doesn’t exist, and you look for the truth.”For Spinnato, the discovery of electromagnetic waves replaced the devil with something more scientific, and it fit with his experience and with what he witnessed. “We talk about superstition and magic,” he said, “but if you live [through the fires], you find that magic doesn’t exist, superstition doesn’t exist, and you look for the truth.”
To read the full story, click here
Here are the best moments from our conversation:
On pitching the story to her editor:
I had never found a story like that before or after. When I started doing research, I found that there was a lot more to it and it became a little easier to sell. There was a moment when I had laid it all out, Katia […] was like, ‘You should just make sure you can actually report this before we say it’s okay.’
On communicating with the townspeople:
I was very surprised. As I got to know them and how their culture worked, it was more understandable but at the beginning, I was very surprised. I was just emailing strangers halfway across the world, asking them to talk about something that was already progressing in a legal sense and that was clearly this big thing that had happened. I was thinking they were all feeling like they were wrong so they wouldn’t want to talk but it was such a big thing for the people that worked on it, where they really did want to talk about it.
On why she writes longform:
I really believe in the power of empathy in magazine writing. The narrative really works. That kind of cinematic storytelling really works. It’s fun to write. Everyday, I feel like I read something everyday about, ‘Do you call it magazine writing?’ or ‘Do you call it creative non-fiction?’ or ‘Do you call it longform?’ […] It’s not really about the length. The length gives you the time and time is an important part of those stories. I just have always loved magazines and loved getting swept into a story and learning something outside of my own life.
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-For some reason, seeing a ton of numbers in a sports article raises my level of trust for the work made by the journalist. John Ourand knows the underlying problems at ESPN so well and gives the reader an inside look into what’s going in Bristol, Connecticut.
-Did a U.S. drug operation lead to the deadly assault of a Mexican cartel in a small, Mexican town? A joint investigation by Ginger Thomspon for ProPuplica and National Geographic.
-I’m not sure I would use a freighter to travel from Quebec to Minnesota. It’s pretty far, isn’t it? Plus how would you even do it? To be honest, I didn’t even know it was possible, but Porter Fox did it.
-Landlords in San Francisco are burning their own buildings down. For GQ, Jon Ronson found out why.
-She’s a legend on the tennis court and now, Serena Williams is having a baby. Buzz Bisinger details the love story between Williams and her fiancé Alex Ohanian for Vanity Fair.
-The first line in this piece by the New Yorker will hook you, but the harrowing details that follow will make it impossible to stop reading.
-A brilliant profile on the Oscar-winning actor, Mahershala Ali by GQ’s Carvell Wallace.