Hello, I'm Joss Carpreau
I help older people to preserve their life stories in a memoir through a series of personal interviews
For most of my life I was an English teacher. I started in a secondary school, and then left to work as a private tutor teaching GCSE and A Level students.
As part of the private lessons, I used to scribe for my students. I’d write down their stories so they didn’t have to worry about spelling, punctuation, or handwriting. I found this gave them confidence. It freed their minds to concentrate on telling me what was most important. I had some brilliant results.
Since then, I completed a course in Life Writing through Oxford University. Now that I’m writing older people’s stories, I find I’m able to bring them confidence too. When I read their stories aloud, I see them positively glowing. Often they don’t realise what good storytellers they are.
I’ve got a lot of experience with writing. I ensure your story is grammatically correct, easy to read, but still sounds like your own voice.
My own parents died when I was in my 20s so I never had the chance to write their life stories. I would have liked to write my grandparents’ stories too, but they’re also long gone.
I always encourage people who are in their 50s to write the stories of the previous generation before it’s too late. They promise me that they will. Yet, my generation are always too busy with their careers and their own children. They don’t have the time.
My first project was to help my father-in-law write his life story. He has a lovely way of expressing himself, which is clear in his book ‘Keeping Steam’. Family often feel that they’ll remember their parents’ words forever, long after they’re gone. But I know from experience they won’t.
I particularly enjoy writing for people who can’t write for themselves. Back in the 30s and 40s, there was no help for people with reading or writing difficulties. They were often branded as stupid. But they developed very good memories to get by, and are often very talented at speaking their stories.
At the end of their project, it can feel overwhelming for them to see their book in print.
I make it easy for people to become writers. I show them that it’s never too late to write their memoir.
I’d love to help you put your life story onto paper. And create a family heirloom that’ll inspire and teach for generations to come.
Hello, I'm Jane Butler
I interview and make audio recordings for Elephant Memoirs. It’s a privilege to hear someone’s life story, and I enjoy helping people to tease out the detail and descriptions that make their stories come alive on the page.
I’m a qualified counsellor (and currently a retired member of the British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists). Previously I’ve worked with Macmillan Cancer Support, the farming community and Age UK Derby and Derbyshire, helping and supporting people to cope with ill health, uncertainty, changing circumstances, planning for later life and end of life.
My first career was as a florist, where I helped people celebrate and commemorate life events. Flowers are very evocative and can carry many memories for people. Customers often used to tell me about their lives whilst I made a bouquet for them. My colleagues used to say it was because I have a knack of making people feel comfortable and at ease very quickly. I think this is where my love of hearing people’s life stories had its beginning.
After my mum died five years ago, I found a document she had made with a local historian, for a project that the local primary school were making about life in our village during WWII It contained all sorts of details, that my brothers and I had never heard before! It left me with many questions I wished I’d asked her when she was alive. It’s true to say it was very emotional to read, but I smiled more than I cried, and most of all I could hear mum’s voice in every word. When I came to the end, I just wanted to read more and more!
Joss and I have been friends for nearly 30 years. It’s very exciting to now bring together our skills and experience, to work our magic on Elephant Memoirs.
Ready to start your memoir with a free introductory interview?
Sharing your story with a stranger, and the world, is a big decision to make. That’s why I offer the first interview for free, so that we can get to know each other before you commit.