Club LeConte, Knoxville, Tenn.
Member since: 2015
Who he is: Author of 16 books, including the New York Times best-selling 5th Wave trilogy. The Last Star, the final installment of the alien-invasion young-adult series, hit stores in May.
Gutsy move: In 2003, with one published novel under his belt, he left his job as a revenue officer at the IRS to write full time. He says he "burned that bridge" by writing a memoir, Confessions of a Tax Collector, about his 12 years working there. "Some dreams you can't pursue on a part-time basis. You gotta be all in."
Lessons learned: While a large part of why he writes is "to entertain," he says his books also have messages for the young adults reading them. An overarching theme of the 5th Wave series, he says, is: "Intolerance will kill us in the end. If we can't bring ourselves to trust and cooperate with people who aren't like us, we're absolutely doomed."
What's next: Nothing, for now. "For the first time in my career, I have the luxury of really thinking about and considering different options and projects."