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

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Episode 70: Vanessa Hua’s Favorite Book — Live!

Vanessa Hua

Vanessa Hua

For this week’s episode, Vanessa Hua, author of the upcoming novel A River of Stars, takes the stage at the San Francisco Public Library with GrottoPod hosts Larry Rosen and Bridget Quinn to talk about her favorite book. In this case, it’s books, plural — the works of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Find out what these books meant to the young Hua growing up, what they taught her as a fledgling writer and what they continue to teach her as a mother, woman and author. You can also watch the whole event in this video.

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Episode 69: Gordon Jack On Juggling Writing and Teaching

Gordon Jack

Gordon Jack

Some writers have day jobs; some teachers write “on the side.” Gordon Jack does both — and neither. On the one hand, he spent more than a decade as a classroom teacher, has taught teachers and is now a high school librarian. On the other, his upcoming second YA novel, Your Own Worst Enemy, is garnering the same kind of rave reviews as his first, 2016’s The Boomerang Effect. This week, Jack joins the GrottoPod to talk about juggling two careers and explores high school, teenagers, controversial subject matter, his writing process (hint: it includes trains) and his home’s proximity to that of a certain GrottoPod host.

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Episode 68: Rachel Levin On Making it “Big”

Rachel Levin

Rachel Levin & family.

Let’s say you’re on a summer hike and a grizzly crosses your path. Would you know what to do? Rachel Levin does. (Which is not to say she wants to encounter a bear!) Her new book, Look Big: And Other Tips for Surviving Animal Encounters, offers helpful advice in a humorous tone, as well as information and anecdotes about wildlife, ranging from mountain lions to moose to mice, all the way down to teeny-tiny mosquitos. This week, the effervescent Levin joins the GrottoPod to discuss her book as well as the ins and outs of reviewing restaurants in San Francisco, how she got a story in The New Yorker, and how to turn a philosophy major into a multi-faceted journalism career.  

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Episode 67: Paul Drexler On Turning Crime Into Creativity

Paul Drexler

Paul Drexler

Crime may not pay, but Paul Drexler has discovered that becoming an expert on crime does. Introduced to true crime when his uncle’s car was used in a New Jersey mob killing, Drexler is now a writer, video game developer, founder of the Crooks Tour of San Francisco and arguably San Francisco’s primary authority on the city’s colorful underworld history. This week, Drexler joins GrottoPod host Larry Rosen to talk about his upcoming book, tentatively titled San Francisco Notorious: True Tales of  Passion, Crime and Murder. He also talks about CrimeCon, his lifelong fascination with outlaws, and shares some of his favorite San Francisco crime stories.

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Episode 66: Caroline Paul’s Mighty Adventures

Caroline Paul

Caroline Paul

What hasn’t Caroline Paul done? A one-time collegiate rower and Olympic-caliber luger, Paul has published non-fiction and historic fiction, books about stalking her cat, a memoir about being one of the first women to join the San Francisco Fire Department, and illustrated books that call for “bravery, perseverance and breaking the tyranny of perfection.” Her latest, You Are Mighty: A Guide to Changing the World, is an inspiring call to action for today’s middle-grade kids. This week, on publication day for You Are Mighty, Paul joins the GrottoPod for a wide-ranging conversation about her adventurous life, overcoming her fears, the power of perseverance, her siblings, experimental airplanes and the world record she once almost held.

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The GrottoPod Team

Larry Rosen

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

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 KravetzLee 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 DoyleLaurie 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

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, Zoe Fitzgerald Carter


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.


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