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Editor - Florida! A Hyper-local Guide to the Flora, Fauna, and Fantasy of the Most Far-out State in America

Posted By Ashley Morales


Gabrielle Calise is a Florida-based culture writer and editor obsessed with offbeat stories and nostalgia. Gabrielle is the editor of A24's travel book, "Florida! A Hyper-local Guide to the Flora, Fauna, and Fantasy of the Most Far-out State in America." The 547-page guide includes seven chapters broken down by region, and with hundreds of the Sunshine State’s best kept, strangest secrets. The book was originally an online exclusive, only to be purchased on A24's website. However, the popularity of the book has led to it now being stocked on bookshelves throughout the Sunshine State. Gabrielle currently reports on Florida culture and nostalgia for the Tampa Bay Times. Editors' note: This transcription is an edited version of the much longer recorded conversation, which you can hear by pressing the play triangle under the photo.

Years in St. Pete

My family moved to St. Pete when I was little, I think it was around 2003-2004, right before we had all of those hurricanes one after another. Then we moved further north in Pinellas County, but we would always visit St. Pete. I went to the University of Florida for four years, and when I moved back in 2018, that’s when I became a St. Pete resident.

Organizations involved in

I’m involved with the Tampa Bay Times and I’m based out of our St. Petersburg office. I cover Florida nostalgia, music, and all things fun and Florida culture.

What gets you out of bed every day?

I’m on a constant quest to just have the most fun. I think that if I am finding sources who are working really interesting jobs or have these wonderful passions, or if people are trying to make their community better or channel their dreams into doing something really cool, I want to follow along with that. I’m also very into solving a local mystery. So if there’s a question I have about the community, I need to follow that through because anything that I’m curious about or people that I talked to are curious about, chances are we’re not the only ones.

Why St. Pete?

I think that St. Pete has it all. There is a mix of so much creativity and so much local history, plus you have such a great community of people that are so tapped in and that makes being a local really fun because you can feel the network of people growing with the more people you meet.

What is one habit that you keep?

I keep a journal as best as I can. Several times a week, I will sort of jot stuff down, and I have it organized by year. It’s also great because I love to look back, and at the end of every year, I have a list of 40 questions that I asked myself, then I read my answers to the questions from the year before and I can see how much I’ve grown and how much things have changed. I just love any type of self-reflection. 

Who are some people that influence you?

I love Florida writers. I love Craig Pittman. Kristen Hare, who’s over at Poynter and who’s another great Florida author. She’s taught me a lot about putting your brain where your readers’ brains are. I really love the work of Sarah Gerard because she also grew up in Pinellas County and the way that she captures it, warts and all, is just so special.

What is one piece of insight - a book, methodology, practice - that you would share with our readers?

Don’t just brush off negative feedback or criticism. I always use that as an opportunity or sort of a jumping-off point to make a connection with someone. And that just makes our work better. If someone calls and says, “Why did you do this?” or “You left this out,” I use it as a chance to say, OK, well tell me your story. What would you want me to know? That has turned into some really great follow-up stories, that’s turned into great sources and great connections.

What is one thing you wish you knew about your work 3 years ago?

I wish I would’ve stopped second-guessing myself sooner. It took me a while to feel like I had earned my place as this person who could help other readers and other people in the community sort of follow their fancy, and I think there’s a pressure that everything has to be really good because the people around you are really good, but I think you can pull that off and you can accomplish really great journalism, even if it’s something that feels like not the most serious scoop. I think that if you are listening to people and letting readers come along for the ride and treating it like we’re exploring our community and removing that pressure, then like beautiful things happen. So I just wish that I had trusted myself a little bit in my news judgment earlier,  because so far it’s paying off.

What’s next?

More fun, weird Florida stories. I’m really excited. I can’t really specify what my next big story is, but it has to do with alligators and I’m having the best time ever with it.

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