Episode 18: Yukari Kane On Teaching Journalism at San Quentin

You may not find working with inmates at San Quentin uplifting, but prominent tech journalist Yukari Kane does. This week Kane, a one-time Wall Street Journal reporter who wrote the definitive book on Apple after Steve Jobs, fills the GrottoPod with tales of health challenges, snap career decisions, suspicious sources, world tours and the genesis of her decision to teach at one of California’s most infamous prisons.

Episode 17: Todd Oppenheimer On Founding Your Own Magazine

Todd Oppenheimer was an actor, a mime and a successful journalist who published in all the major magazines and won a National Magazine Award for Public Interest Reporting. But it wasn’t until he started his own publication, Craftsmanship Quarterly, that he found his life’s work. This week, Todd joins us in the GrottoPod to talk about his magazine, the Craftsmanship Initiative, his passion for craft and “working with your hands,” and the challenges of doing mime in Central Park with a young, untamable Robin Williams.

Episode 16: Joe Loya, From Solitary to Storyteller

Some writers take unorthodox paths to success; for Joe Loya, author of The Man Who Outgrew His Prison Cell, that path includes a childhood full of spiritual, sometimes violent and tragic, twists and turns, followed by a stint as a bank robber known as “The Beirut Bandit.” He spent seven years in federal prison, where a months-long stint in solitary confinement led to the epiphany that began his writing career. A born storyteller, Loya covers all of it — and sets a GrottoPod record for colorful language — on this week’s show.

Episode 15: Edan Lepucki On Outrageous (Literary) Fortune

What if the hand of God (in the form of Stephen Colbert) reached down and helped make your first published novel a New York Times best-seller? It happened to Edan Lepucki, whose post-apocalyptic novel California was the unwitting beneficiary of a Colbert vs. Amazon feud in 2014. Now, on the publication day of her new book, Woman No. 17, Lepucki joins us in the GrottoPod to explain how she went from hoping for “okay reviews” to signing 10,000 books in one weekend, how she feels about “difficult” protagonists, her preference for L.A. over Berkeley, and much more.

Episode 14: Fred Vogelstein On When The Story Gets Personal

How are the stakes changed when a journalist pursues a personal story? This week, veteran tech writer Fred Vogelstein enters the GrottoPod to share his journey from Freshman remedial English to Wired, Fortune, U.S. News & World Report and his book Dogfight: How Apple and Google Went to War and Started a Revolution. He also addresses the challenges he faced when he chose to write about his family’s battle to secure a ground-breaking drug to treat his son’s epilepsy.

Episode 13: Matthew Zapruder

Matthew Zapruder, poetry editor for the New York Times Magazine and author of four award-winning poetry collections, enters the GrottoPod this week to discuss his latest work — a book of prose due out this summer called Why Poetry? — and the challenges and rewards of teaching poetry. Zapruder examines a life of poetry and muses on the role The Grotto has played in his life and career, the path that led him from a U.C. Berkeley PhD. program in Slavic languages and literature to a poetry M.F.A. He wraps up his visit by setting a tattoo date with Bridget.→ READ MORE

Episode 12: Frances Stroh

Author Frances Stroh joins the GrottoPod to discuss her best-seller, “Beer Money: A Memoir of Privilege and Loss,” just ahead of its release in paperback May 30. Invigorated and rested after spending 2016 juggling motherhood and book promotion, Stroh recounts her roller-coaster life as a fifth-generation member of the once-mighty Stroh’s Beer family and how she’s used her book tour to “give back” to her hometown of Detroit. She also shares what happens when amazon.com runs out of your book, and the intricacies of making sure there is beer available at your readings.

Episode 11: Christopher Cook

Journalist, memoirist, activist and lifelong Boston Red Sox fan Christopher Cook enters the GrottoPod this week to discuss a life lived in pursuit of doing good and doing well. An award-winning muckraker whose work has appeared in Harper’s, The Economist, Mother Jones, The Christian Science Monitor and Atlantic.com, Cook is the author of the 2004 book Diet for a Dead Planet: Big Business and the Coming Food Crisis. In recent months, Cook has turned his attention to journalism and analysis that’s aimed at fighting the Trump administration.

Episode 10: Zahra Noorbakhsh

Feminist, Muslim, Iranian-American comedian Zahra Noorbakhsh joins us on the GrottoPod this week to talk about her love of performing onstage, politics, her relationship with her Iran-born parents — who appear frequently in her stand-up tales — and T-Rex erotica. Noorbakhsh’s shows include All Atheists are Muslim, On Behalf of All Muslims and Hijab and Hammerpants. She’s also the co-host of the #GoodMuslimBadMuslim podcast and has appeared on Fresh Air and in the anthology Love Inshallah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women.

Episode 9: Vanessa Hua

In this week’s episode, Vanessa Hua — journalist, columnist, fiction writer, and mother of 5-year-old twins — talks about how she juggles everything, stays on top of social media and manages to be such a generous colleague. (No, knitting is not the secret.) She shares time-management tips, thoughts on meaningful publicity, how running and swimming help her sort out ideas, and where she finds inspiration for short stories like those in Deceit and Other Possibilities, released in October 2016. The book recently received the Asian/Pacific American Award in Literature. Hua writes a weekly column for the San Francisco Chronicle.→ READ MORE