Welcome to Beyond, home to intimate conversations with today’s greatest heart-centered minds.

Jane Ratcliffe, author + interviewer. Photo by Tamara Wade.

“Jane is a great interviewer – her warmth draws the interviewee out into new territory…”

— George Saunders

The world can feel particularly hard these days. How do we get through without losing our joy and hope and compassion and playfulness and sense of ourselves as tender, grounded, creative, big-hearted humans? How do we not lose our minds?

I don’t have the answers, but I’ve spent my career asking questions.

Beyond is where I talk to some of our greatest heart-centered authors; people who have lived through difficult times and found ways to thrive. And boy do they have wisdom to offer. Plus a lot of great writing insight.

“Beyond offers places of wonder, comfort, and wisdom to help us all through difficult times.” – Heather Brebaugh

Beyond includes…

My full interview series with the greatest authors of our time (from Elizabeth Gilbert, George Saunders and Cheryl Strayed to Ross Gay and Rebecca Makkai)

Exclusive craft & writing advice from my interviewees (like craft advice from George Saunders and Elizabeth Gilbert, plus this roundup of writing wisdom)

Weekly questionnaires with your favorite Substackers (including Emma Gannon, Austin Kleon, and Sari Botton)

My own personal essays (including this one about my brain injury, a neighbor’s dog, and my slow path toward healing, plus this one about my mother’s death)

Invaluable contributions from popular guest writers (like Caroline Cala Donofrio, L.L. Kirchner, and Jillian Hess)

Good News & Gratitude, a place for subscribers to gather and share aha! moments, newfound acceptance, lucky breaks, unexpected bliss, and other good news

… all for $6/month or $50/year.

Additionally, 1% of all paid subscriptions gets donated toThe DeTommaso Dogs, a one-woman operation successfully getting hundreds of dogs off the streets and into forever homes.

Subscribe to Beyond

If you’re able to become a paid subscriber, you will not only gain access to all Beyond offers, but you will also help keep me afloat and create access for others. If you would love a paid subscription but cannot afford one, please email me at janeratcliffe@mac.com. If you’d like to sponsor a reader, you can do so by donating a subscription here or gifting one.

About me, your host

For decades, I’ve done interviews. Back in the day it was with musicians (Sinéad O’Connor, Tony Bennett, Metallica, Mary J. Blige, Radiohead) and more recently with authors, many of which have appeared here in Beyond. I’ve written for Interview, Guernica, Tin House, The Believer, Vh-1, Tricycle, Los Angeles Review of Books, Longreads, and many more. I’ve also written myriad personal essays that have appeared in The Sun Magazine, O, The Oprah Magazine, Creative Nonfiction, and more. I hold an MFA from Columbia, and for many years I taught Creative Writing at The New School and Rutgers. My work has been included in Best American Essays and Best American Short Stories Notables. 

In 1998, a freak accident resulted in head and brain injury–and my life has never been the same. Whilst wildly better, I do still face daily challenges that shape the way I see the world as well as my seemingly bottomless curiosity. 

I live with a wild and beautiful and gigantic-hearted mutt named Delilah and a tender yet also wild and gigantic-hearted kitty named Rudy Lu. 

All of this has led me to Beyond. What you see here is some of the most meaningful, satisfying, and exhilarating work I’ve done. 


Beyond became a cherished word for me many years ago when I was composing an email to Kiese Laymon. Kiese’s writing moves me in ways I struggle to articulate; goes to the marrow. I wrote: “Your prose is beyond beautiful.” Crossed out beautiful (wasn’t expansive enough). “Your prose is beyond deep.” Crossed out deep (wasn’t precise enough). “Beyond wise.” Crossed out wise (wasn’t magnificent enough). Several more attempts followed.

And then I wrote: “Your writing is beyond.”

Beyond had already settled in my bones decades before when I first learned the Heart Sutra and its closing mantra: Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi Svaha, which in its most simplistic terms, translates into: Gone, Gone, Gone, Beyond. Gone Utterly Beyond. Oh, what an Awakening.

I wanted to go Beyond.

My wish with this newsletter is to explore the Beyond together. 

I’m lucky enough to interview some of our greatest minds—and greatest hearts. Because intelligence without compassion or kindness is hollow. Combined, manifests wisdom and beauty.

And with that, we venture into the Beyond.

Get Beyond

Special shoutout to Kirsty Harris for designing my gorgeous banner and logo. Please check out her work here.

And, look: Beyond was selected as a Featured Publication by Substack!

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The internet’s most intimate, illuminating interviews with today’s greatest writers—get an in-depth look into the craft of writing and what it means to be a heart-centered human in a hard world.


Jane Ratcliffe's work has appeared in The Sun Magazine, O, The Oprah Magazine, Creative Nonfiction, Al Jazeera, Longreads, and Narratively, amongst others. http://janeratcliffe.com/writing/