Breathe’s Southern Gothic Book picks

Unknowingly, I’ve been a fan of Southern Gothic literature since I was a little girl. I read Mark Twain, Harper Lee and Edgar Allan Poe as a kid, and remember getting chills from “The Tell-Tale Heart,” wishing Scout was my best friend and thinking Huck Finn was a real smart alec. Later, in high school, I ventured into Twain’s Complete Short Stories and started to understood that Twain wasn’t just a light read. His short stories evoked a range of emotions — laughter when reading “The Diary of Adam and Eve,” and feeling a sense of doom when reading about his Satan character in “The Mysterious Stranger.” Deep stuff, I thought.

As of lately, I found myself revisiting Southern Gothic lit through other classic authors — Flannery O’Connor and Tennessee Williams — while also exploring how authors like Karen Russell are incorporating elements of the genre into modern literature. It’s ignited this curiosity in me, causing me to dust off Twain’s short stories and buy Karen Russell’s latest book. I even ventured to request a copy of Russell’s Vampires in the Lemon Grove (to be released February 2013) to review for Breathe Mag’s January/February 2013 issue.

I have a slight infatuation with Russell’s books because they take place in the Everglades, which is right down the road from where I grew up in Florida. Her description of settings and characters resonate with me, and I feel a twisted attachment to the dark, gloomy — yet humorous — stories.

Because I’ve felt such an attachment to Southern Gothic lit lately, I decided to highlight three of the genre’s books in our October issue, keeping with the idea of the spooky South. Also, this week, I posted 20 Southern Gothic Book Picks on Breathe’s site — our extended reading list for those book worms out there.

Would love to hear what your favorites are off of Breathe’s 20 picks list — and what other Southern Gothic reads you’ve enjoyed lately. Happy reading!

Breathe’s October release

Cue horns. Tomorrow at noon we will be launching Breathe’s October issue on And, throughout the week the issue will be distributed to newsstands across the Southeast.

Our cover story, Dinner With Friends, is a tribute to traditional Southern fare and regional wines. We met with Whole Foods’ cook and wine guy here in C’ville to help create a menu with the appropriate wines — everything from Viogniers to Meritages to Port-style dessert wines. The recipes are easy to make at home and the wines highlight Central Virginia’s terroir. Check out some Instagram images from the Dinner With Friends cover shoot, here.

Hope you enjoy the issue. It was a blast to put together. Check out the October line up below. Cheers, marissa

The Cider Trail

This cider story for our September issue was a blast to research. I interviewed all the current and soon-to-be hard cider producers across the Southeast and sampled some of their wares. The majority of hard cider producers are clustered here in Central Virginia because it’s such a big apple-growing area — lucky us! The terroir of the Blue Ridge Mountains is ideal for apple growing and cider production.

Hard cider production is the fastest growing segment of the craft brewing industry. It’s exciting seeing small, family-owned cideries popping up in our region.



Indian Summer

Breathe designer and photographer Amanda and I took a R & R retreat to Virginia Hot Springs for our Indian Summer cover story for the September issue. I usually see these travel trips as “work” (if you’re a travel journalist with an agenda, you’ll understand this, and if you aren’t I sound spoiled), but that definitely wasn’t the case with this trip. Amanda and I instantly bonded with our guides at Natural Retreats, and it was just what we needed after putting out three consecutive issues by ourselves. It was a well-deserved trip indeed. Check out my story on the area and Amanda’s awesome photos of our trip in the September issue (flip to page 15). For a more snarky take on the September issue (and my dislike for football), click here.

Also, win a Virginia Hot Springs spa and sport retreat with Natural Retreats (just like our trip!) through Breathe Magazine here. And check out some of the cool photos Amanda (via nice camera) and I (via iPhone) took below.

Football Tailgate Style Guide

I really could care less about football. I don’t dislike it. I just have no feelings about it, which is how I honestly feel about most team sports. So naturally while talking about the September issue and the idea of football, all I really could consider incorporating in the issue was tailgating. Offense, defense, AFC, the other conference (drawing a blank here), Pac 10, Pac 12. I have no idea what is what. My only knowledgeable experience with football is tailgating. Tailgate games, tailgate drinks, tailgate style.

I went to my share of Buffs football games while at CU-Boulder, but my real experience in football lies in entertaining. You know, pumping Natty Light into red Solo cups, compiling epic playlists and painting colorful aquatic murals on beer pong tables. My roommates and I had a house a block away from the football stadium, so we were the go-to party for all of our friends — and friends of complete strangers. We had beer pong, flip cup, horse balls (I’m pretty sure this is called something else), horse shoes, and sometimes you could even find us gargoyling on a keg. It was a blast. Sometimes such a blast that I ended up with a sprained ankle or the Boulder Police graced us with a noise violation as we belted “Rocky Mountain High.” All in all, a grand ol’ time.

But, as you can see, my tastes have developed since college (thank god!) to that of a refined adult. Plastic wine glasses and bamboo plates that double as frisbees now are my tailgate go-tos. Our designer Amanda actually helped pick a majority of these items because I am still stuck in college tailgate mode.

Moral of the story: use our tailgate guide. It will make you look classy, even if you aren’t.

Old & New Wood that Works

Katie and Joseph Thompson were a pleasure to interview and write about for our September issue. Katie and I connected via Twitter, conversed back and forth, and after checking out Joseph Thompson Woodworks’ website, I decided that they would make a fabulous story for the magazine. Katie and Joseph are talented furniture designers in South Carolina who are using old-school woodworking techniques to create furniture with a modern flair.

I want to feature more people like Katie and Joseph in Breathe. People, artisans in particular, who are creating the new South. Artists, furniture makers, musicians, business women … people who are creating a new cultural landscape in our region.

September front-of-book

The September issue was a little skimpy with edit content if you look at the table of contents. We went from having 13 stories (four features and nine departments) in the July/August issue to only seven stories in this issue (four features and three departments). Good news is we are selling more ads! Glad we are getting more people on board to support Breathe. Now just to grow those edit pages …

Also, if you look at the editor’s note page, you’ll notice a “Taste of Fall” invitation. Breathe has partnered with Whole Foods as well as craft cider producers in our region for a fall party on Sept. 25 at the Whole Foods in Charlottesville. There will be food provided by Whole Foods, hard cider, live music, giveaways and the donut truck Carpe Donut will be there as well! Very excited for this party. Hope to see you there, friends!

Breathe Magazine September Issue

Very excited about the September issue of Breathe and not because I’m on the cover. Yes, that is my backside gracing the cover.

This cover shoot was hectic. I’m honestly surprised we walked away with an image, considering the circumstances and everything that was working against us. Our designer Amanda and I were kayaking and canoeing on the Lower Jackson River right outside of Covington, Va., in Bath County. I was in the canoe with our guide and she was taking photos from the kayak.

At the end of our adventure, right before we got out of the river at Petticoat Junction, we shot this cover image. A bridge was in front of us — not ideal as “background” for our cover — so we turned the canoe around so its bow was pointing upstream, with the current running forcefully against us. While turning the canoe in the river, Amanda was simultaneously braiding my hair and juggling the camera (I sitting there helplessly, clutching my oar). Our guide was holding the canoe from the back, being oh, so patient with us ladies and our requests. The shoot was definitely rushed, but Amanda rocked it and got this image. We had bad lighting; it was noon and the sun was right above us. The current was pushing us downstream. We thought we were going to need to do a re-shoot. But, Amanda nailed it under pressure while I just sat there with oar in hand.

All in all, great cover image for Breathe!

Amanda turned this ridiculous picture of me into a teaser for our September issue. Notice Amanda’s reflection in my glasses. Apple of my eye!

Beach Baggin’ It

Our beach bag guide was featured in the July/August issue of Breathe. I’m obsessed — obsessed — with beach rompers. Growing up on the beach in Florida, my mom practically raised me in a romper. Also, have been eyeing those Ray Bans for awhile and I think it’s about time to break down and actually invest in a pair. I’ve been using the hair tie set from ShopBop lately and love them. Happy sunning! Hope our stylish beach bag guide serves you well. Just remember to slather on plenty of sunscreen and cover up!

Beach camping survival guide

For the July/August issue of Breathe we made a little Beach Camping Survival Guide with our picks for high-end gear, places to camp, advice and a recipe for a Lowcountry boil. On Memorial Day weekend I ventured down to the Outer Banks to do some “research” (AKA lay in the sun and drink beer) for this story, but our trip ended up turning into a mini vacay catastrophe. To read/see what really happened on our beach camping trip, click here. But, we were able to turn it into a “survival guide” because in reality that’s what we were doing while beach camping … kind of.