Episode 7: Ethel Rohan

Ethel Rohan published two story collections (Goodnight Nobody and Cut Through the Bone), a chapbook (Hard to Say), and a short memoir (His Heartbeat in my Hand) before releasing her first novel, The Weight of Him, in February. In this week’s episode of the GrottoPod, she talks about her characters and her family (“what we don’t know about our own flesh-and-blood”), the unanswered questions about the effects of suicide on survivors, rewriting the Irish experience (“correcting the forgotten”) and how writing characters who are better than we are can amount to self-redemption.

Episode 6: Manjula Martin

How do writers get by, financially? We put that impertinent question to our colleague Manjula Martin, author of Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living. In the book, she gathers intel from established and rising authors, but she has good insight herself, having created Who Pays Writers? — and having written for the Virginia Quarterly Review, Pacific Standard, Aeon magazine and many others. She has also worked for book publishers, magazines, nonprofits, arts organizations and is currently the managing editor of Zoetrope: All-Story. (Note: we mispronounced her name in the intro; it’s pronounced MON-jula!)

Episode 5: Joshua Mohr

Joshua Mohr is the author of five novels, including Damascus (2011), which The New York Times called “Beat-poet cool.” But he joins us in the GrottoPod to talk about why he just released a memoir, Sirens (2017). It’s a raw and stripped-down chronicle of drug and alcohol addiction, a literal hole in his heart and family compassion. He calls it a “relapse memoir,” something far removed from “a linear AA share.” Don’t miss him Saturday, March 4, at the Babylon Salon in San Francisco.

Episode 4: Louise Nayer

Poet, memoirist and longtime teacher Louise Nayer joins us to discuss the always-intriguing subject of memoir. In August 2016, Louise re-released Burned, the story of tragedy and rebirth in her family of origin. She also talks with us about the lighter but no-less-revealing personal story in her next book, Poised for Retirement: Moving from Anxiety to Zen. Consider this podcast a preview of Louise’s double readings of Burned on February 25 — at the Glen Park branch of the San Francisco Public Library (2 p.m.) and at Great Good Place for Books in Oakland (7 p.m.READ MORE

Episode 3: Po Bronson and Ethan Watters

Two of the three founders of the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto — Po Bronson and Ethan Watters — join us on the GrottoPod. They come not to discuss their stellar careers in journalism but to share how The Grotto came to be, what The Grotto means, and where The Grotto goes from here. From a humble Victorian flat 22 years ago, to a legendary stint at a decommissioned dog-and-cat hospital, to today’s labyrinthine South of Market digs, they’ve seen it all when it comes to this writers’ community. And they let us know that not all of The Grotto’s best stories are on the written page.→ READ MORE

Episode 2: Constance Hale

Connie Hale, a Hawaiian-born author of groundbreaking books on language, enters the GrottoPod studio to discuss growing up in paradise, laying some island Pidgin English on one of her profs at Princeton and laboring in the publishing industry to write about the culture of her home state. She tells us how a chance exchange with her hula teacher led her to scrap traditional publishing for a new book on hula, The Natives are Restless, and also for a children’s book, ‘Iwalani’s Tree.

Episode 1: Shanthi Sekaran

Shanthi Sekaran, whose new novel, Lucky Boy, has been featured in People, InStyle, Publishers Weekly and on NPR, squeezes into the GrottoPod for Episode 1. She talks about her creative process, the unique challenges and responsibilities of writing about the immigrant experience, the “Berkeley experience” and motherhood.