Oral History Practice: Interviewing my Flatmate


Interviewing someone and learning how to listen is essential for the good writer. A writer observes, listens and steals. After our Oral History Workshop class, Professor Lichtenstein asked us to interview someone for 15 minutes and to transcribe the interview on the blog. This is the first part, since I don’t really like long posts on blogs.

I interviewed Selena Ferro, my flatmate. The experience was interesting, because actually I had to work hard to transcribe every little bit of what she said. There were a lot of “uhm” and “like” which I had to be careful to identify. Interviewing someone is a great part of researching and deepening the knowledge on a subject – but also, it can go further, it can make you interact directly with the source you are using. Some questions were of course prepared, but some other came naturally during the interview. I will write a post about oral history and interviewing people.


R: Okay, so… can you tell me your name?

S: Hi, my name is Selena.

R: Oh… your full name.

S: Oh, my name is Selena Ferro.

R: And… can you tell me your date of birth?

S: My date of birth is seventeen of September, 1991.

R: And your address.

S: It’s 55 Waddington Road E151QL in London, United Kingdom.

R: Okay, so, I’m going to ask you some questions about your relationship with reading. The first question is: what is the first book that you remember of?

S: Probably it’s like… Harry Potter and the Philosophic [Philosopher’s] Stone.

R: And… can you tell me more about it?

S: Ehmmm… I didn’t actually finish to read it because I was about like… probably ten years old, so… I didn’t enjoy, like… like reading when I was a child, so… yeah. And I still never finished to read it. I think I have to do it now.




R: Okay, so… what kind of book did you… you used to read when you were young?

S: Ehm, I didn’t read much. I started to read when I was about like fifteen – sixteen and I started to reading like Twilight, so I kind of prefer like fantasy books, so… yeah, I don’t know why, I just like, enjoy… it’s like really easy for me to read it.

R: And… do you enjoy reading rather than… watching movies, or…

S: I think it’s like… it depends on the situation. Sometimes I’m just like… I prefer to maybe get a book and start to reading a few pages, like, for relax myself, or other times I’m just like… I put on a movie and just watch it.

R: And then… for example, do you think there are some books that are better than some movies, or…

S: Yeah, I think it’s like… when you read a book, and then after they’re gonna do the movies, the book is always the best choice. It’s like… especially if you read the book before, and then you’re gonna watch the movie, you always gonna find something that’s not going to be like the book, so, if you really like it, I suggest to read the book, and then, if you want to maybe… like, watch the movie, but if not… it’s fine.

R: Do you… can you tell me, like… some examples, and if you think there is a movie that is better then a book.

S: Ehm… I didn’t actually like for example probably like ehm… The Lord of the Rings. I didn’t read the book, because it’s like, really long, but I’m sure is like… way better th… the book than the movies also because there are a lot of people that read the book that told that like most of the things in the movie are completely different. Or like, for example, it’s like one of the saga that I enjoyed to read it’s like a fantasy one, it’s called Shadow Hunter. They’ve done the movie of the first book and now they’re doing the tv serial… the movie wasn’t like really nice at all, like… they cut a lot of stuff, also because the book is like about four or five hundred pages, they cannot do like a two-hour movies. The tv series is not that bad but they’re still changing a lot of things, like, character and stuff like that which is, like… it really annoys me because if you read the book then you’re getting like… to know the character in the book, and you’re getting, like, probably to love them or to hate them, and then like… you see them on a movie and it’s different… I don’t think it’s the same feeling.




R: Yeah. I can get the feeling. And then… so, ehm… well, okay, so, which one do you think is the period of your life in which you read the most?

S: Probably around… when I was seventeen – eighteen years old, when I was… the last … ehm years of the school in Italy. Yeah, I got really into these kind of… fantasy novel and stuff, that I had to read like, all of it, and it was like about five or six books, so that’s probably the period when I read the most.

R: So it wasn’t only Twilight.

S: No. Yeah, I had other like sagas about fantasy as well.

R: Can you tell me some of the names?

S: Eeeehm. It was like, ehm… well Shadow Hunter, that’s the one I have done… then the other one I don’t remember… oh, oh, I have read, ehm… the Chronicle of Narnia, and then, ehm… what else have I read? I think it’s like about same… same kind of, of… kind of book. I read something that… that was called Winter, it is about… another girl also in like a fantasy thing, then I just read some other random books on like… fantasy and stuff, but I can’t remember the title.

R: What about what you’re reading now?

L: Ehm… it’s actually a long time that I don’t read, I… I’ve started a book like, in Italian, which… I actually don’t remember the name, this is how bad I am for reading now… but it’s like… basically it concentrates on, like, ehm… women, like female power and female stuff… like female as like a god… especially like, years ago… like… you know, like, really many many years ago when, the… like human being was born, to be like… the woman is really a powerful creature and most of the women don’t realize that so it’s a really interesting book and I should continue to read it.

R: So it’s not like, fiction, it’s a…

S: No, no. It’s like… a different kind of… yeah, it’s a different stuff than what I’m reading but it’s a nice one, yeah.

R: And what about your reading experience at school?

S: We… like, you mean if they gave us, like the teachers…



Pic by Alejandro Escamilla


R: Yes, yes.

S: Ehm… there was one book, which is the one that probably I remember most, oh the title was so… I don’t remember the title because the title was so… like, really really long but it was like about this child that has like some problems and he was like having this dog. The book was like a whole dialogue between this child and the dog and all his problems that he has… it wasn’t bad but I felt it was just really like… a strange book. It was of course concentrated on like… on the story that this child has with the problem, because it was like, I think it was like psychology stuff or things like that but I think it was like slightly difficult to understand if you’re like a teenager and you are in school.

R: Yes.

S: Because teenagers are not… most of them concentrated in this kind of… like, you know… environment and stuff.

R: And what about… Italian literature?

S: You mean like what they gave us in school?

R: Yes. Yes.

S: Well… I think that… in my school… they never gave us anything.

R: Do you think that they didn’t prepare you to… ehm…. Start having a “reading lifestyle”?

S: Yeah…

R: You know what I mean…

S: Yeah, no, no, they didn’t. I don’t know why, maybe because, ehm… we were in a school that was like, more touristic stuff so maybe they didn’t think it was that important to give you like something to read.

R: That’s interesting.

S: Yeah, but…

R: And there was no difference between your Italian teacher and your English teacher… like you didn’t… you didn’t study literature with both of them.

S: Ehm, we did, but we were just studying like authors, and you know, poems and stuff.



Pic by Aleksi Tappura


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