Episode 108: Sara Schneider on the Language of Wine

Sara Schneider

Sara Schneider has been a wine, food, and general lifestyle editor and writer for 25 years, most recently as Consulting Wine and Spirits Editor for Robb Report. Before that, Schneider was Sunset magazine’s Wine Editor, which is where she met GrottoPod co-host Ben Marks of CollectorsWeekly.com back in the 1990s. In this conversation, recorded on June 14, 2019, Schneider and Marks discuss the sometimes peculiar jargon employed by wine writers, defining many colorful wine-writing terms along the way. It also sounds like they drank a fair amount of wine.

Episode 107: Traditional Publishing and the Winds of Change

Litquake panel

What does the publishing industry still have to offer writers who are breaking in? In this episode, George Higgins and Susie Gerhard take to the field to check out the Litquake panel “Tried and True: What’s so great about traditional publishing?” On a windy Sunday morning in front of Z Below in San Francisco’s Mission District, they speculate about what the title means before heading inside to interview audience members and hear from moderator Natalie Baszile, author of the novel Queen Sugar, and her publishing pro panelists Trisha Low of Small Press Distribution, indie-publishing consultant Pamela Feinsilber, and literary agents Anna Ghosh and Ted Weinstein.→ READ MORE

Episode 106: Julia Flynn Siler and The White Devil’s Daughters

Bonnie Tsui and Julia Flynn Siler

New York Times best-selling author Julia Flynn Siler takes us deep into the story of the women who fought slavery in San Francisco’s Chinatown with her new book, The White Devil’s Daughters. The Writers Grotto’s Bonnie Tsui, author of the award-winning American Chinatowntalks to her about the meticulous research and care required to pull together revelations about the trafficking of young Asian girls that flourished in San Francisco during the first hundred years of Chinese immigration (1848-1943), and the “safe house” that became a refuge for those seeking their freedom.

Episode 105: Diana Kapp on Subjects Near and Far

Diana Kapp

Journalist Diana Kapp is published widely, from San Francisco magazine to the New York Times, ESPN, and O, the Oprah Magazine. She’s taken a circuitous path to many of her stories, which have included an investigation of teen suicide clusters in Palo Alto and an exploration into the education of girls in Afghanistan. But the trail she took to her latest story—an NYT essay on her 84-year-old father’s new crush—was direct; as in, straight from the heart. It brought about a reckoning of sorts, however, when she shared it pre-publication with her subjects. She chats with Grottopod’s Susie Gerhard about the process and the poetry of newspaper and magazine writing. → READ MORE

Episode 104: Monica Campbell on Borders, Bright Spots, and PRI’s The World

Monica Campbell

Senior editor/reporter at Public Radio International’s “The World,” Monica Campbell focuses on immigration and immigrant life in the United States. She’s reported internationally for years, including from Afghanistan and, most extensively, from Mexico and Latin America. In Mexico,she was the Committee to Protect Journalists representative (2006-2009). In this week’s episode, she talks with Laura Fraser about immigration politics in the Trump era, the bravery of local journalists in the face of drug cartels, and what she misses most about her reporting time south of the border: the rhythm of life, the storied sobremesa hours, or the time spent with friends at the table after a meal is over.READ MORE

Episode 103: Virgie Tovar reinvents “fat camp”

Virgie Tovar

We revisit our July 2018 interview with influential author and body-image activist Virgie Tovar, who was recently interviewed for the Pacific Standard by Writers Grotto member Beth Winegarner. Tovar is hosting a new summer camp, Camp Thunder Thighs, at the end of June in Northern California. When we spoke to her last summer, she dropped truth bombs about writing honestly and writing to empower, fat discrimination and celebration, and how to leverage social media for good. Tovar started the viral hashtag campaign #LoseHateNotWeight, pens the weekly column Take the Cake, and authored You Have the Right to Remain Fat.READ MORE

Episode 102: Jamie Ford on the Value of MFAs

Award-winning author Jamie Ford joins co-hosts emeritus Larry and BQ for the second of two live podcasts recorded at the 2019 Storyfort Festival in Boise, Idaho. Their conversation with the Montana writer touches on the Ford family’s experiences in the American West, Ford’s journey from comic book-reading “artsy kid” to best-selling author, the value of an MFA versus life experience, and the extensive research and writing that produced his recent novel, Love and Other Consolation Prizes, as well as his award-winning debut, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.

Episode 101: Tara Conklin Live At Storyfort

Tara Conklin author

New York Times best-selling author Tara Conklin is our guest this week as she joins co-hosts emeritus Larry and BQ onstage at the Storyfort Festival in Boise, Idaho. Conklin talks craft, vision and work habits and shares tales of her mid-career switch from law to fiction writing. Her first novel, The House Girl, grew out of a short story, and her latest book, The Last Romantics, zoomed to the top of the Amazon.com fiction rankings when it was chosen by Jenna Bush Hager as her pick to kick off the TODAY Show Book Club.

Episode 100: John Markoff on Stewart Brand

John Markoff

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist John Markoff joins co-host Ben Marks of CollectorsWeekly.com on the GrottoPod this week to talk about his forthcoming biography of Stewart Brand. Markoff, who spent 28 years at the New York Times, is the author of one of Marks’ favorite books, What the Dormouse Said. Markoff says his Brand biography could be considered a sequel of sorts to Dormouse, but its larger mission is to capture what Markoff believes is a particularly northern California sensibility, embodied by Brand and his life’s work as the editor of the Whole Earth Catalog, co-founder of The WELL, and president of the Long Now Foundation.→ READ MORE

Episode 99: Goodbye, Hello! Tom Barbash on ‘The Dakota Winters’

Tom Barbash & Laura Fraser
Tom Barbash (center) with Paul Harding and Laura Fraser.

“Where were you when you heard John Lennon was killed?” It’s a familiar question to people of a certain age, but Gen-Xers will not be the only ones fascinated by Tom Barbash’s early-’80s New York City flashback, The Dakota WintersWith veteran journalist and memoirist Laura Fraser as guest host, GrottoPod Episode 99 finds Barbash talking about his childhood in NYC’s Upper West Side and the process behind turning the biggest names of the late 19th century into his novel’s central players. “I wanted to say something new and true about John,” says Barbash.→ READ MORE