This year has seen Kirkus expand its video series to include authors of fiction, nonfiction, children’s, and young adult books, a mix that resulted in engaging conversations with the authors of wide-ranging stories. From children’s book author/illustrators to investigative journalists, veteran thriller masters to the authors of debut short story collections, we’ve loved every minute of our conversations with this fabulous roster of writers. Here’s a sampling of some of our favorites; for the complete list, visit the series on our website.

Zakiya Dalila Harris on The Other Black Girl (Atria): In Harris’ debut novel, editorial assistant Nella works at a predominantly White publishing house when a new assistant, Hazel, joins the team. At first an ally, Hazel quickly takes on the more complicated roles of competitor and saboteur in Harris’ gripping thriller that is also an examination of systemic racism. Harris spoke with us not long after the book was selected for the Good Morning America book club.

Venita Blackburn on How To Wrestle a Girl (MCD x FSG Originals): Blackburn’s second collection experiments with the formal confines of the short story, as she first envisioned these stories as a novel in flash form. Many of the stories here are linked to a nonbinary protagonist and their family, covering such subjects as grief, queerness, sexism, and the strangeness of childhood. Blackburn explained the role that humor plays in her writing and her need to laugh at the absurdities of the world.

Kristen Arnett on With Teeth (Riverhead): Arnett’s sharp-tongued narrator, Sammie, is isolated as a queer parent in Florida, and from the novel’s first scene, Sammie struggles with her difficult, often silent son as her relationship with her partner devolves. In our conversation, Arnett, a Florida native, advocates the importance of listening and community building in queer spaces and explains why she favors the dynamic humor and tragedy of her characters over mere “likability.”

Peter Sís on Nicky Vera (Norton Young Readers): Ever heard the story of Nicholas Winton? The unsung British banker arranged what would later be called the Czech Kindertransport, putting 669 children on trains from Czechoslovakia to the U.K in 1939. With extraordinary illustrations and tender narration, Sís tells the story of Nicky’s rescue through the eyes of Vera Diamantova, a Czech girl. Sís discusses his discovery of Nicky Winton’s achievement and how he landed on Vera’s tale as the lens through which to tell the story.

Mahogany L. Browne on Chlorine Sky (Crown Books for Young Readers): Browne tells us she wasn’t certain, at first, that she wanted to tell the story of Skyy and her best friend for a young adult audience. She ultimately decided that the best way to address the issues of insecurity, betrayal, and the growing pains of coming-of-age would be to write about them head-on, through a novel in verse. She offers one piece of advice for burgeoning writers: When doubt comes, write anyway—no matter what.

Karen M. McManus on The Cousins (Delacorte): McManus’ story of three cousins brought to their grandmother’s estate by a long-hidden family secret is a fast-paced and compelling narrative that investigates the damage of a family’s inheritance and a new generation’s willingness to explore and, ultimately, heal. McManus tells Kirkus she was inspired by her own close family for parts of this story, having returned to her childhood passion of writing after many years in other careers.

Rivka Galchen on Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch (Farrar, Straus and Giroux): The Salem witch trials are common historical knowledge, but in her latest novel, Galchen introduces American readers to the German witch trials of the 17th century. Galchen discusses taking Katharina Kepler, mother of physicist Johannes Kepler, as her protagonist, imagining a harsh world from the perspective of an older woman persecuted through accusations of witchcraft.

Elizabeth Hinton on America on Fire: The Untold History of Police Violence and Black Rebellion Since the 1960s (Liveright): Hinton’s powerful book tackles the many rebellions that took place after the 1960s outside the spotlight of major cities. In this interview, she discusses community responses to police brutality and acts of resistance by young people, emphasizing the “major structural intervention” she sees as necessary in order to shift political attention from arming the police to creating better community infrastructure.

Karin Slaughter on False Witness (Morrow/HarperCollins): Slaughter has written 21 novels, and her latest thriller tells the story of Leigh and Callie, sisters leading very different lives but united, in surprising ways, by a childhood trauma that returns to haunt them. Slaughter talks about the nuances of writing about violence against women and the importance of having other author friends involved in her writing process.

Debbie Rigaud on Simone Breaks All the Rules (Scholastic): Rigaud, author of the YA romantic comedy Truly Madly Royally, discusses her latest book, which focuses on Haitian American Simone. As Simone navigates high school, love, and friendships in her New Jersey hometown, she also learns to embrace her growing passions for everything from baseball to history. Rigaud speaks about the process of portraying strict parents fairly and expands on her first visit to Haiti, which informed Simone’s story.

Johanna Zwirner is the former editorial assistant.