The Interview Process
Q. Where do you start?
A. If you would like to create a memoir based on audio interviews, we first meet the memoir’s narrator to discuss the goals of your life history project. Some clients want a comprehensive family story, complete with antique photographs, custom maps, and a family tree. But others simply want to preserve the highlights of a life well lived in their own distinctive voice. Some would cherish a biography of a deceased relative, while others choose to commemorate a special birthday, catalogue a favorite collection, or pay tribute to a beloved family home or pet.
Q. Once everyone is on the same page, what happens next?
A. We schedule a number of interviews with the narrator, each session an hour and a half to two hours long.
Q. What are the interviews like?
A. Samantha holds interviews at the narrator’s convenience, ideally at home or in another quiet, private location. Your comfort is the single most important variable, so we talk where you want to, when you want to, and only as long as you want to.
Q. I'm feeling a little self-conscious. Couldn’t I just complete one of those fill-in-the-blank lists of biographical questions?
A. The secret of good interviewing is listening closely and asking the right follow-up questions. (All of our interview questions will be edited out of the final manuscript, leaving only your voice telling your story.) During a Remarkable Life interview, it’s not unusual for a narrator to say something like “I never really thought about it, but now that you mention it . . .” or even “I didn’t realize I felt that way, but I guess I do!”
Q. But you’re a stranger. Isn’t that kind of awkward?
A. People are actually more likely to tell us their story in detail, because they can’t assume that we know anything about them or their history. And we are compassionate and respectful listeners.
Q. What if there’s something too painful or personal to talk about?
A. If you don’t want to talk about it, we don’t talk about it. And if you tell a story and later have second thoughts about including it, no problem. You have complete control over the contents of your memoir.
Q. What if I can’t think of anything to say?
A. There’s no such thing as writer’s block when it comes to oral history! And anyway, we have tons of experience in steering your memory down some unexpected avenues. Maybe the questions below will get you started!
What were the circumstances of your birth?
How are you a different parent than your own parents?
Do you ever think of your teachers from elementary school?
Do you regret choosing your career? What might you have done instead?
How do your friends describe you? How accurate is that description?
Is there anyone you wish you could apologize to—or thank?
How have your ideas about religion or spirituality changed as you’ve gotten older?
Are you ready to start?
Sign up now for a free consultation about your life history project.