The heart of a good life story is found in a series of interviews with the storyteller that are recorded and then transcribed. Ideally, the interviews will unfold as a series of animated informal conversations between the storyteller and an enthusiastic, engaged, supportive, patient, intuitive, and sensitive listener—the interviewer. To ensure this success, we observe a number of guidelines.
A primary concern is doing everything possible to set understandably nervous storytellers at ease and draw them out. We choose an environment that is friendly and relaxing for the storyteller—and free of distractions! Often this is the storyteller's home or office. The interviews are informal and warm in nature.
While the interviews are structured, using carefully selected questions, they are also intuitive. The interviewer is always ready to explore subjects that the storyteller introduces unexpectedly.
A crucial element of any interview is a respect for privacy. Every storyteller has things that they don’t want to talk about. A good interviewer respects that. Conversely, a storyteller may reveal secrets and confidences that no one else knows. A good interviewer also keeps those secrets.
Our recording equipment is unobtrusive yet picks up every word clearly. By prior arrangement, we can make an audio CD of the interviews.