As a child, Rutger Bruining was fascinated by the stories his grandfather told him about his experience as a member of the Dutch resistance in World War II. Rutger had always planned to write down these memories, but his grandfather passed away before he was able to do so. How many other people’s stories, he wondered, disappear when they’re no longer around to tell them?
It was this personal regret that inspired him to help others to capture the stories of their families, and even their own life experiences, each one remarkable and moving in their own way.
Launched in 2015, StoryTerrace is the leading biography writing service that helps people to turn their life stories into beautifully curated memoirs by carefully matching them with a professional writer. Their packages are popular gifts for milestone birthdays, anniversaries or other momentous occasions. To date, it has brought to life over 2,000 stories using a network of over 600 professional writers – the largest of its kind in the world.
Many of these writers have been published by the world’s most prominent media and publishing houses, including Penguin Random House and Hachette Book Group. Others have topped The Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller lists.
Since lockdown began, there has been a surge in demand for StoryTerrace’s services. ‘Coronavirus and lockdown have prompted many of us to reflect on our lives and to spend more time talking to family. I think that’s why so many more people are interested in creating a permanent record – something that’s very personal, but has been produced under the guidance of a professional writing and editorial team,’ says Rutger.
Each client is carefully matched with a writer who can best emulate their own voice and reflect their personality, interests and background. The writer then interviews the client to craft their story, recording anecdotes to create an authentic testament of the client’s life.
These interviews are typically conducted face to face in the comfort of the client’s home, but the company also offers remote options, with conversations by phone or video call.
StoryTerrace’s proprietary platform, BookMaker, ensures that the storyteller and writer can stay connected every step of the way. The storyteller is able to request changes while the in-house editorial team handles the rest of the process.
The result is beautifully produced, hardback book with colour images that is delivered to the client’s home for them to share with family and friends – a unique heirloom. StoryTerrace, which greatly impressed the investors of the hit BBC show Dragon’s Den, is expanding its offering to businesses as well as individuals. Alongside its standard packages, it can meet bespoke requests such as full translations, e-books and audiobooks.
‘It’s amazing what people can learn about their parents and grandparents. A professional writer with a sympathetic ear and a talent for spotting lovely anecdotes can capture the essence of someone’s life in a way that may never have imagined,’ explains Rutger. ‘People tell us that it’s one of the most amazing gifts that they’ve ever received. It brings me so much joy to help people to preserve their stories forever.’