Can children and/or grandchildren take part in the process?
Sure. I will customize your project so that it suits you and your family, just the way you want it. Grandchildren’s participation can be a particularly delightful element of the process.

Can close friends or siblings be interviewed together, instead of husband and wife?
Of course. Wonderful stories can come from friends and siblings reminiscing. (See descriptions of such projects: Jim and Jack, friends; Renee and Debbie, sisters;
Ed, siblings; Mary Lois, siblings; and Jim, siblings and friends.

What if my parents/I live far away?
No problem. I am based in the San Francisco Bay Area but have worked with people in Washington, D.C, New York, Chicago, Nashville, Southern California, and Mexico. Where there are people with stories, I will travel!

What if I’d like to have a narrative history project done with someone who doesn’t speak English?
If there is someone in your family, or a close friend, who can translate for us, I can do the rest! (See a description of such a project: Zheng fu)

What if my parents/I say something -- that’s recorded -- that we don’t want in writing?
You have full power to have anything deleted from the narrative I write for you.  You will also be given all audio recordings to keep.

What if my parents/I want to keep going on this project, even after we’d planned for it to end?
It’s actually pretty common for the people telling their story to want to continue longer than planned. I can continue to work with people as long as they’d like. In a couple of these situations, when the “interviewees” weren’t ready to stop but the family was eager for that special book, I have published an interim book of selected writings and photos.

What if I really want my parents to do this but they are hesitant?
Many people are hesitant at first for a variety of reasons. They tend to warm up to the idea, however, when it is pointed out to them that the project really is a gift to their grandchildren. And, once it begins, they’re delighted by how much they remember and how enjoyable it is to take that walk down memory lane! (See testimonials and also a description of such a project: Estelle)

What if my parents/I have reservations but would like to begin on a trial basis?
If you’re not sure this is for you but you’d like to give it a try, let’s give it a try! We can meet once, or twice, and if you’d like to continue, we’ll continue. If you’d prefer not to, that’s okay, too. We can decide how you’d like to begin at our initial meeting (which is free of charge).

Do I have to pay extra for the audio recordings?
No. They are yours to keep; they’re included in the price of the service.
The audio recordings are digital. I will send you yours electronically (by email).

What about video?
Unedited video footage is included in the price of service; you pay only for the time and material expense involved in transferring it to you.

I can also arrange for a finished, professional video to be made for you from the footage shot during our interviews.

Setting up the video camera during interviews is a courtesy I am happy to extend to clients who would like it. I cannot, however, guarantee its success.

What if I have a limited budget?
I offer a range of oral history projects for a range of budgets. You and I can sit down for an initial meeting (free of charge) to discuss the parameters of your project and your budget. Audio-only projects are an excellent, more affordable, option. We’ll make an oral history project work for you within your budget.

How much does this cost?
The price varies widely, but it's always based on an hourly rate. There are many options available to you. (See What is a Narrative History?)

Interviews (and preparation for them) generate the first layer of cost. Then, most people choose to have a book written of the narrative, which adds several additional layers (transcription, writing, editing, design, printing). Of course, people consider the book a priceless family treasure.

If you’d like, we can begin capturing the story soon, and later you can decide whether you’d like a book. An initial informational meeting is free of charge. If you are considering a narrative history project, please contact me and we can discuss what you have in mind.

How do we get started?
Contact me by email or phone: or 650-799-2733. I’d be happy to answer any questions you have, and if you’d like, we can set up a meeting.

Copyright 2020 Maggie MarkdaSilva