Episode 77: Interviewing Relatives: A Conversation with Personal Biographer Francie King

Have you ever thought you’d love to interview a member of your family about their life?  In this episode, personal biographer Francie King shares tips on how to get individuals to talk and the importance of listening as you record. As a former journalist she knows how to refine a story and gather the facts. We chat about ghost writing, the process of putting it all together and the power of hearing our relatives voices. She’s a master at the art of gently encouraging individuals to share their past. 

I love her passion for the topic as expressed in this quote “Personal history and biography,” she says, “are always larger than a single finished book. The story of an individual, or a family, is the story of us, part of our shared history, always worth preserving, always deeply valuable for the next generations. Whenever that history remains untold, then it is lost to us forever.”

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About My Guest:

Francie King has worked for more than 40 years as a journalist, writer, and editor, and as a director of nonprofit publications strategic planning and management. Her workplaces include more than a half dozen major universities and colleges in New England, as well as the Museum of Fine Arts and the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem. She fell in love with personal biography and memoir around 2007 while editing a book about her father, a world-renowned nuclear physicist. In 2009, after finding inspiration in a community of supportive, like-minded writers, she turned her longtime writing consultancy into a memoir and personal/family biography business, HistoryKeep (www.HistoryKeep.com), based in Marblehead, Massachusetts.

Building on a love of biography and family stories and with long experience as an interviewer, Francie has written or edited more than 20 bespoke books, and often teams with other personal historians as a developmental and copy editor. She works with graphic designers, proofreaders, and printers to create a book suitable for the coffee table or for sharing around the dinner table among family and friends. Several of her books are now available on Amazon.

“Personal history and biography,” she says, “are always larger than a single finished book. The story of an individual, or a family, is the story of us, part of our shared history, always worth preserving, always deeply valuable for the next generations. Whenever that history remains untold, then it is lost to us forever.”

Francie has a BA in English literature (Denison University) and an MA in anthropology (Boston University).

About Maureen Taylor:

Maureen is a frequent keynote speaker on photo identification, photograph preservation, and family history at historical and genealogical societies, museums, conferences, libraries, and other organizations across the U.S., London and Canada.  She’s the author of several books and hundreds of articles and her television appearances include The View and The Today Show (where she researched and presented a complete family tree for host Meredith Vieira).  She’s been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Better Homes and Gardens, The Boston Globe, Martha Stewart Living, Germany’s top newspaper Der Spiegel, American Spirit, and The New York Times. Maureen was recently a spokesperson and photograph expert for MyHeritage.com, an internationally known family history website and also writes guidebooks, scholarly articles and online columns for such media as Smithsonian.com. Learn more at Maureentaylor.com

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