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Rising Stars: Meet James Gilboy

Today we’d like to introduce you to James Gilboy.

Hi James, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
My teachers always told me I was a good writer, but I never saw it as a way I could make a living. Got into cars as a teenager but realized after going to school to be a mechanic that I wouldn’t be good at it. I was in a sort of limbo, putting off looking for another job when a chance to write for The Drive (which I had long admired) fell into my lap. I grabbed the opportunity with both hands and held on for dear life. Five years later, here I am, an independent adult not just sustaining myself off creative work, but chasing after some of my wilder dreams.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
I wouldn’t say so, no matter how narrowly or broadly you define the road. It’s really been a lifelong one. As for the period I’ve been writing professionally, I’ve both faced some rough patches growing as a journalist and as a writer, as well as an ongoing crisis of purpose. But that’s probably an explanation for another question on this form!

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
The short answer is I write about cars, but the long answer is I do some broader transportation journalism as well. I’d say my specialty is researching “cyptid” vehicles with poorly documented histories, though I’m up to scratch on electric vehicles, motorsport, and some broader automotive culture and transportation policy. I’m probably best known for my series on Collier AMC (an old car dealer frozen in time), but otherwise, it’s tough to say, I don’t have a huge personal following.

I’m definitely most proud of when I publish something that helps people somehow—inspires them, informs them, or gets them the attention they deserve for their own good work. That’s kind of the point of media work! I’m also proud of being able to comprehensively tell obscure stories from history, like the McDonald’s McTrain or Project Carryall.

What sets me apart from others… Is my tendency to write overly long sentences. Bad habit. Okay, no, aside from that, when I deal with complex topics, I like to aim for what I call Digestible Depth. The average person is smarter than you think, they just need to be helped to understand some topics. Presentation is make-or-break for helping people understand.

Can you tell us more about what you were like growing up?
I was diagnosed with ADHD from a young age, so I never really bonded with most of the people I grew up around. For a variety of reasons, I was also not the most well-socialized, so I went from an energetic kid to a reclusive one. As for interests, I’ve always found the machines we use to transport ourselves—trains, planes, ships, cars, et cetera—interesting, and I’ve sort of picked up some knowledge on them all over the years. Not to the point of being able to tell people much about all of them, but the interest has been there.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
James Gilboy, Rafi Ward, Kristen Lee

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