Top Menu


Memoir Interviewing

best memoir writing coachGet your memoir written more quickly and expertly. A writing coach helps you at every step of the process, pointing you in the right direction and gently correcting your course. An editor helps you scrutinize your manuscript to go deeper and  be more insightful.Which do you need now?

Create a manuscript with more punch. Free consultation. 207-353-5454 today to make an appointment.

Memoir interviewing is an integral piece of research. Although you may assume you can depend on your memory when you write your lifestories—memory isn’t always as reliable as you want it to be. Interviews with relevant family members and friends can supplement your memory and broaden the perspective of your memoir.

How To Prepare For Memoir Interviewing

1) Select whom you will interview.

If your time is limited, or your family is large and offers many choices, it will be all the more important to identify a manageable number of knowledgeable relatives and friends to interview.

For example, Aunt Mary tends to talk endlessly—all afternoon if you let her. Her conversation seems to have little content as she wanders from one topic to another. Aunt Jane, on the other hand, is an incisive person whose intuition is always informing her about what things mean. Her many observations and reminiscences are usually interestingly told. Furthermore, they are consonant with your other research.

Can there be any doubt whom you will interview first—Aunt Mary or Aunt Jane? (Being nice to lonely Aunt Mary is a work of charity and it should not be confused with collecting information to write your stories.)

Another example: Cousin Luigi married into your Irish family. He is a dear old man and you love him very much, but his tales about his Italian family are irrelevant to understanding the history of your Irish ancestors. Cousin Luigi’s are not the accounts you need to collect.

2) Ascertain who else is likely to want to participate in the interview—and decide whether that person may or may not sit in.

An unexpected, or inappropriate, person can blur the focus of your interview.

For instance, your aunt by marriage, sitting in on the interview, may find what you are doing so interesting she begins to talk about her life experiences and, in doing so, may not allow your uncle (your mother’s brother) much time to talk about his childhood relationship with your grandparents and your mother. Your aunt’s experience, however interesting, will not provide the information you need to understand your grandparents and parents.

[Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

The Memoir Network blog reposting” width=And now this one thing…

This post is one of over 500 informative, well-written articles we have made available to you on this site.

We’ve contributed to your writing success; now we ask you to contribute to the expansion of the memoir conversation.

By reposting this article on your blog or website or reposting on your favorite social media, you will inform your fellow memoir writers of the programs and services—many for free like the blogs—that are available at

Thanks for your generosity. You rock.

We'd love to have you access this content. It's in our members-only area, but you're in luck: becoming a member is easy and it's free.

Already a Member?

Not a Member Yet?

, ,

2 Responses to Memoir Interviewing

  1. Avatar
    Gay Finkelman August 1, 2017 at 8:59 AM #

    This article on interviewing and preparation was excellent. I am reminded of how important it is to keep in mind whether a kernel of information, planned or a spontaneous comment just may have value for the memoir even if not directly tied to the specific person being interviewed. Also, asking someone else to act as a prompter on your behalf to cull every worthy morsel is a great idea.

  2. Avatar
    Denis Ledoux August 1, 2017 at 9:46 AM #

    The Swedish film director Ingmar Bergman wrote someplace that he needed to know what sorts of flowers the characters who were arguing in the livingroom had planted along their cellar wall if he was going to shoot the scene well. He added that most often the audience did not have to see the flowers but he did. Writing is often that way—requiring much more info than goes into the story.

    Keep writing.

Leave a Reply

A gift for you...
...because you need to get your memoir written. This little book will focus you to complete your memoir.
  • Your memoir deserves to be written. We help people get their story down—right!
  • Writing a memoir or want to improve one you're working on? Download Memoir Writing 101: How to Craft a Compelling Memoir or Lifestory / 10 Steps and a Bonus.
  • Memoir Writing 101 comes with The Lifewriter's Guides, a biweekly "workshop in an email.".
  • If you are already a member of The Memoir Network, this e-book and others are available to you free in Member Resources.