About Kristen Hall-Geisler
I didn’t plan to be an automotive journalist. I planned to be a writer, which is nice and vague. I did grow up in a family that went to races, and had more cars than drivers most of the time. Driving aimlessly around the county on dirt roads through the woods was a perfectly normal way to spend a day.
When I graduated from college and moved to Oregon, I wrote some terrible short stories and some worse poetry. I did eventually get a job at a small magazine in Portland, Sports Car Market. But not as a writer. I did data entry. Eventually, I did some proofreading, then some copy editing, and by the time I quit four and a half years later, I was the managing editor, with the power to assign stories and write deadlines on the big whiteboard.
When I decided to be a freelance writer, I had exactly one credit to my name: the New York Times. When new writers ask me how to begin freelancing, this is my recommendation. Have one byline, and have it be in one of the most famous newspapers in the world. Granted, it was in the Automotive section, but that was all it took.
From there, I built a freelance career writing about everything from electric cars to supercars. I took test drives and interviewed engineers, I spent days wandering auto shows and nights drinking with my fellow automotive journalists. Remember early in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (book or movie; either will do) when Hunter Thompson is covering the motorcycle race and drinking nasty beer? Automotive journalism is often like that, but with dry turkey sandwiches at the free buffet in the media room.
Since the days of Sports Car Market, I’ve had lots of bylines in the New York Times, as well as HowStuffWorks.com, Mental Floss, Consumers Digest, Details, VroomGirls.com, the Oregonian, Portland Monthly, Oregon Business, and more. All of this experience, from my first Chevy Chevette to my latest test drive (it was a 2014 Subaru Outback, FYI), has led to Take the Wheel. Automotive journalist may not have been my plan, but it sure is a great gig.