Questions that are truly frequently asked of me since I started in automotive journalism in 2002.
Q: You’re a freelance writer? That’s your job?
A: It is. I work at home all day, every day, with my dog and my cat napping in my office. I write articles and blog posts mostly about cars, and I contract with a company to edit self-published books.
Q: And you make a living at that?
A: I do, yes.
Q: Who do you write for?
A: My first freelance job was updating the New York Times Autos section’s online calendar, which I still do twice a month. I write a couple articles for the print edition of the Times a couple times a year, too. I’m the Guide to Exotic Cars on About.com, and I write regularly for the Autos section of HowStuffWorks.com, which is owned by Discovery. I’ve blogged for AutoBuying101.com, and I’ve written car reviews for women at VroomGirls.com. I’ll write articles for anyone who pays me, including Oregon Business and Portland Monthly, and not always on cars. I’ve written on the business side of the Portland Timbers franchise and a guide to using the Facebook app on your mobile phone.
I also work with independent publishing firms as a copy editor or line editor, mostly for novels and memoirs, though I’ve edited straight up non-fiction books on occasion.
Q: How did you get into that?
A: Which, the writing or the editing?
Q: Both. Well, the car thing.
A: I grew up with cars and race cars and summer cars vs. winter cars and cars for back roads and crossing creeks when the water is low. I thought that was normal; it apparently is not. I knew I wanted to be a writer, so when I moved to Portland, I took the first magazine job I could find: data entry at Sports Car Market in February 2002. I proofread and copy edited my way to the top (the top isn’t very far up in an office with fewer than a dozen employees), and when I left to freelance in September 2006, I was the managing editor. All my clips were car-related, so nearly all my work has been automotive writing ever since. I got the contract editing job by answering an ad placed on an industry site … I don’t remember which one.
Q: What’s the best car?
A: That depends on what you want to do with it. Manufacturing quality has come so far in the last decade that there are very few truly shitty cars. Almost every new car — and most used cars less than 10 years old — are well built, reasonably fuel efficient, and packed with safety features. The car that’s best for you is the one that fits your life, including the number of people who will usually ride in it and how much car you can afford.
Q: What’s the best car you’ve driven?
A: I really liked the Aston Martin DB9 Volante I had a couple summers ago. It was so fast, and the leather was so soft, and the engine was so loud in a good way.
Q: What do you drive, then, Miss Auto Journalist?
I have a 2005 Subaru Baja, the nouveau Brat, if you will. I love it for being all-wheel drive, tough, and easy to clean out. My dog Danny leaves nose prints on the back windows and dog hair, well, everywhere.