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. 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. 

 

Q. Once everyone is on the same page, what happens next?

A. We schedule a number of interviews with the narrator, each an hour and a half to two hours long.

 

Q. What are the interviews like?

A. We hold interviews at your 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. Why not just complete one of those fill-in-the-blank lists of biographical questions?

A. The secret to great interviewing—and eliciting great stories—is listening closely and asking the right follow-up questions. During an 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. We're compassionate and respectful listeners. And you're actually more likely to talk in detail when you can’t assume that we know anything about you.

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 have second thoughts about including it in the finished manuscript, no problem. You have complete control.

 

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! 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—or college?

  • 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. 

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