The GrottoPod Podcast: Writers on Writing
What it is: Writers crammed into a tiny studio at the largest writers’ collective on the West Coast. At the Grotto, more than one hundred writers share office space, a mailing list and lunch conversations about all manner of subjects. On the podcast, we chat with big players and up-and-comers alike, talking craft, process, narrative stuff of all kinds, and also cereal and other vital aspects of the writing life. Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter, or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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2017 has been quite a year for our inaugural GrottoPod guest, Shanthi Sekeran. Her novel, Lucky Boy, has been named to several “best of” lists, including NPR’s Best Books of 2017, and she’s travelled far and wide — from Nashville to Honolulu to Edinburgh — for readings. In November, Eva Longoria’s production company announced it is developing Lucky Boy as a television series for Universal TV, to be adapted by David Schooner (Do No Harm) and directed by Nisa Ganatra (Transparent, Dear White People). All of this was ahead of her way back in February, though, when she agreed to be the first GrottoPod guest. Travel back in time with us to revisit that day when Shanthi stepped into our tiny studio to discuss expectations for her then-new book, motherhood and the challenges presented by both.
Guinevere de la Mare, author of I’d Rather Be Reading, calls the compilation of art and essays “a love letter to reading.” De la Mare’s life-long love of reading led her to create the Silent Book Club, a “happy hour for introverts” that now has chapters in more than 50 cities worldwide. Listen in as Guinevere explains how a kindergarten rebellion kicked off her love of reading, how her two-year-old indirectly contributed to the birth of the Silent Book Club, how to say “Captain Underpants” in Italian and how to treasure reading in an age of shrinking attention spans.
How do agents spend their time? This week, Jennifer March Soloway, associate agent at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, joins her old running buddy BQ and Larry in the GrottoPod to clear up some of the mysteries surrounding the agent-writer relationship. She also talks query strategy, revisions, “the prologue question,” why some query letters receive “radio silence,” how agents work as advocates for their clients — and how an ex-amateur boxer found her bliss by becoming a literary agent.
This week, seven-time novelist Cristina Garcia joins the GrottoPod to discuss the evolution of both her best-selling debut novel Dreaming in Cuban (1992) and herself, tracking her path from Havana to the Bay Area (with stops in New York, Miami, Los Angeles and Frankfurt), from would-be Pampers marketer to Time magazine bureau chief to best-selling author to playwright. Along the way, she discusses stories that cannot be told through journalism; what brought her to Berlin for her latest book, Here in Berlin; how good timing helped make Dreaming in Cuban a literary sensation; Fidel Castro’s basketball obsession and what happens when your mother insists you get your hair done for the national book awards ceremony.
How’s your NaNoWriMo coming? This week, Larry and BQ pause at the annual novel-writing sprint’s halfway point to reflect on their experiences keeping up a 1,700-words-per-day pace, and to discuss the ins and outs of speed-dating your latest writing project. Then, having analyzed the heck out of their respective triumphs and challenges, they dive into the hidden controversies surrounding book blurbs. And don’t miss our recent interview with the man who started it all: the impeccably named Grant Faulkner, who offers some pep talks to get you through the halfway slump.
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The GrottoPod Team
Larry Rosen is the co-host of the GrottoPod and a longtime freelance journalist, writer and former columnist for the San Francisco Examiner. He is also the host of another podcast, (Is it) Good for the Jews?, and is presently working on a novel and a memoir.
Bridget Quinn is the co-host of the GrottoPod and the author of Broad Strokes: 15 Women Who Made Art and Made History (in That Order), which NPR’s Susan Stamberg calls “a terrific essay collection” with “spunky attitudinal, SMART writing,” marking the second time “attitudinal” has been used about her work (first: Kirkus, 1996).
Lee Daniel Kravetz, the GrottoPod’s executive producer, is the international best-selling author of Strange Contagion and Supersurvivors. His work has appeared in The New York Times, New York Magazine, Atlantic, and Psychology Today. He is is a founding board member of the Lit Camp Writers Conference.
Laurie Ann Doyle is the GrottoPod’s producer and the award-winning author of the short-story collection World Gone Missing. She teaches writing at the San Francisco Writers Grotto and at the University of California at Berkeley. Her work has been published in The Los Angeles Review, University of Colorado’s Timber Journal, and Under the Sun.
Beth Winegarner, the GrottoPod’s online producer, is a veteran journalist and editor whose work has appeared in the New Yorker, The Guardian, Mother Jones and Wired. She is also the author of several books, including The Columbine Effect: How Five Teen Pastimes Got Caught in the Crossfire and Why Teens Are Taking Them Back.
Sugartown is a Berkeley-based acoustic folk trio, heavy on the harmonies, light on the saccharine (and with a hefty dose of southern moonshine thrown in for good measure). Grotto writer Zoe FitzGerald Carter writes the band’s original tunes, sings and plays guitar. Brian Bloom is on lead guitar and vocals, and local jazz great Dan Seamans plays bass. Info about Sugartown’s upcoming gigs can be found on their Facebook page: SugartownCalifornia.