About Cary Tennis


Cary Tennis is a well-known advice columnist with a long and varied career in journalism. He graduated cum laude from the University of Miami in 1976 with a degree in literature and journalism and entered the masters program in creative writing at San Francisco State in 1978. He passed his orals (Wallace Stevens, William Faulkner and Vladimir Nabokov) and had his creative thesis approved (“The Riverwood House and Other Stories”), but became deeply involved in San Francisco’s art-punk explosion of the early 1980s and never did officially receive his masters degree. His experience in graduate school taught him much about literature but left him with a thirst to experience the working lives of people, rich and poor, outside the academic profession. So for the next few years he worked series of low-paying, low-status jobs mainly in the financial district of San Francisco, and played guitar, wrote and sang for art-punk/new wave band the Repeat Offenders.

Cary on the Ponte Vecchio in Florence
Cary on the Ponte Vecchio in Florence

He worked as a bike messenger and as a rock journalist for the SF Weekly and generally tried to live out an idiosyncratic version of the poet and fiction writer as brilliant urban rebel and scold before finally settling down in 1989 with a steady girlfriend whom he eventually married. He quit the booze and tried to make a living as a freelance journalist covering music, politics and technology. But economic forces drove him to work as a temp for Chevron Corp., where for five years he worked on a novel on the streetcar and learned the finer points of copy editing.  Finally in 1999 the pioneering online magazine Salon.com hired him as a copy editor and he quickly became head of the copy department and began writing regularly for Salon. In October 2001, when author Garrison Keillor ceased writing his signature column, Mr. Blue, Tennis succeeded Keillor with  a new advice column called Since You Asked, which he wrote five days a week for a large and enthusiastic international audience until the fall of 2013. He now continues the column on his own site, carytennis.com.

In 2007 he took a week-long workshop with Amherst Writers and Artists founder Pat Schneider at the Berkeley campus of the Pacific School of religion, and decided, with Pat’s blessing, to become an AWA workshop leader. His workshops began in his house in the Ocean Beach neighborhood of San Francisco and continue there today. But his worldwide base of fans wanted to participate in his AWA workshops, so with the help of his talented and multilingual wife Norma he began organizing  retreats, first at Marconi Conference Center in Northern California and then later in Melrose, Fl., Baltimore, Amsterdam and Tuscany. His first Amherst Writers and Artists retreat in Connecticut, at Guest House in Chester, with AWA founder Pat Schneider as guest, occurs May 16 through 19 of 2014. Plans are underway for a retreat at Chateau du Pin int France’s Loire Valley in fall 2014.

He has published numerous books of columns, among which are Since You Asked, Citizens of the Dream, and That Special Time of Year.

For more information about his workshops, retreats and other activities, see carytennis.com, write to info@carytennis.com or feel free to call or text him directly at 415 308-5685.

Contact us:

small us with rickyinfo@carytennis.com
415 308-5685

Cary Tennis Books
1966 48th Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94116