Episode 23: Oscar Villalon, Behind the Scenes at Zyzzyva

Oscar Villalon

Oscar Villalon

Oscar Villalon didn’t set out to become a literary gatekeeper, but that’s part of his job description as the managing editor of Zyzzyva, arguably the most prominent literary journal in the Bay Area. Join us this week as we welcome Oscar to the GrottoPod and discuss his career as a reader, writer and journalist and pull away some of the opaque drapery that often shrouds the publishing process.

Episode 22: Lee Kravetz On Contagious Ideas

Lee Kravetz

Lee Kravetz

Can you “catch” a behavior like you’d catch a cold? Lee Kravetz, co-author of Supersurvivorsthinks so. This week, he joins the GrottoPod to explain how. Kravetz (also a producer of our podcast) lays it out in his new book, Strange Contagion, which is released this week. Strange Contagion explores how social contagion — communicable ideas, thoughts and actions — turned volatile in Kravetz’s home of Palo Alto, California, creating a rash of teenage suicides. He also looks at how a similar kind of contagion helped the community recover from those tragedies.

Episode 21: Michael Frank On Capturing Family in Memoir

Michael Frank

Michael Frank

Michael Frank, author of the acclaimed new memoir The Mighty Franks, grew up in an unusual, “intertwined” family. He was swept up into the world of his childless aunt and uncle, a pair of prominent Hollywood screenwriters who helped create such films as Norma Rae and The Long, Hot Summer. They taught him about art, literature and culture — and that “fitting in is death.” Things got complicated, though, when he tried to establish some boundaries as a teenager. What were the costs of his coming-of-age? Find out this week on the GrottoPod.

Episode 20: Writers’ Retreats

Larry Rosen and Bridget Quinn

Larry Rosen and Bridget Quinn

To retreat or not to retreat? That is the question on this week’s special, guest-free episode of the GrottoPod. Join BQ and Larry as they engage in a spirited conversation about what makes writing retreats and conferences irresistible (BQ) or easily resistible and somewhat enigmatic (Larry) — and where writers of all kinds can go to find their community. Also, in a GrottoPod first, BQ gets bleeped.

Episode 19: Faith Adiele On Telling Your Unique Story

Faith Adiele

Faith Adiele

How does a “typical Nigerian-Norse American girl” get from rural Washington State to Harvard, Thailand and then San Francisco? Faith Adiele, the product of Sunnyside, Washington’s “only mixed-race, Marxist anti-war family,” who became Thailand’s first black Buddhist nun, joins the GrottoPod this week to share the fantastical twists, turns and happy accidents that led her to become a celebrated memoirist (Finding Faith), filmmaker (My Journey Home), teacher and speaker.

Episode 18: Yukari Kane On Teaching Journalism at San Quentin

Yukari Kane

Yukari Kane

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

Todd Oppenheimer

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

Joe Loya

Joe Loya

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

Edan Lepucki

Edan Lepucki

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

Fred Vogelstein

Fred Vogelstein

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.