I spend an average of sixteen to twenty hours conducting interviews with the men and women for whom I complete a memoir project. Depending upon the individual, it can take more or less time to tell a comprehensive life story. The interviews are typically scheduled in two-hour sessions, two, three, or four times a week.
I call them interviews, but they are truly just guided conversations. Although some people choose to provide an outline of their life experiences, nothing needs to be prepared by the interviewee. It is my task to elicit the story. My questions are both carefully and spontaneously crafted to guide the storyteller smoothly through his or her lifetime. Beginning with one’s earliest remembrances, we work our way forward to the present day.
When the interviews are completed, the recordings are transcribed word-for-word. Using the transcript, I refine, organize, look for holes, and delete redundancies in the narrative. Following that step, the creative writing begins. In writing a story that engages a reading audience, I strive for a clear, colorful, factually accurate, and meaningful narrative to unfold for the reader. Therefore, a great deal of interpretive work must be factored into ghostwriting. I must look for a thread at the beginning of a life and try to pull it out where the storytelling ends.