What's a Raconteur?

rac·on·teur
/ˌräˌkänˈtər/

A person who tells anecdotes in a skillful and amusing way; a storyteller; a narrator

Acadiana writer turns locals' life stories into biographies

Acadiana writer turns locals' life stories into biographies

published by The Advocate

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Every person, Olivia Savoie will remind you, has a story to tell. 

While the deaths of most people get relegated to an obituary in the newspaper, or their life story may be of little interest to the local newspaper, Savoie hopes to fill that void. The University of Louisiana at Lafayette graduate has taken her passion for writing and started Raconteur Story Writing Services, which publishes small biographies of local people and businesses.

In two years Savoie has developed the list to around 200 questions and done over 20 books.

"I got the idea for this six months before I graduated," she said. "I wanted to do it, but I didn't know exactly how to do it. How do you condense someone's entire life into a book?

"The same day I took my last final, I was writing (The Memoir of M.P. Dumesnil Jr.). I started out with a set of 125 interview questions and tested them first with my grandmothers. I was always really close to them, but I realized there was so much I didn't know until I started asking these questions."

She does both memoirs and tribute books for those who have recently died. The subjects have come from different walks of life. 

"One was about a CPA and a nurse from Loreauville who had been married for 50 years," Savoie said. "Another was about a couple out of Jeanerette who was a plumber and a teacher. They were all so sweet and I enjoyed writing their story for them."

Gloria Wiggins from Delcambre is the subject of one of Savoie's books. This 91-year-old mother and world traveler who taught school for over 40 years heard about Savoie through an ad in a local magazine and said she and her family have enjoyed the book.

"She's a very pleasant person to work with and we've very much enjoyed the book," Wiggins said. "There's a lot of things I wanted to record for my family. I just thought I needed to get it all in one place and I'm just real pleased with what she did."

Said Savoie: "The way I see it (is) that everyone has a story to tell. I'm writing not for the big business ma, but the stay at home mom. I think there's a huge market for it because everyone needs to preserve their story. If we don't tell our story, no one will remember it in 50 years and there's so much wisdom and inspiration that can be gleaned from if you had your grandparents or great-grandparents' book."


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