Why did you choose these short/big questions to ask? Was part of your intent to create a time capsule of attitudes about life and death today

I'm fascinated by how casually people seem to choose their words: as if living and dying were casual, not conscious events. People talk about dying for a good meal, killing for a chance to be on, say, American Idol , etc. It seemed to me that the three questions distilled most political and spiritual philosophies; that may be claiming far too much, but it's a stab (ooh, a wound). That, in answering, folks couldn't be casual with their words, but intentional. Not a time capsule, but a space capsule, by limiting geographies to within a 30-minute drive or a 30-mile drive from a specific starting place (my home in Pleasant Valley; my home in Durham)

What surprised you most about the answers

I was surprised at how readily strangers shared their answers with me and especially that people seemed to assume that I agreed with whatever their position was. The latter, more so in the South

Why did you decide to end the piece with the teenagers instead of the seniors

I end with young people only in the Pleasant Valley version. Life is transitory; death, I think, too. Young people, in their invincibility get that life goes on and is to be savored as it happens. The really old realize they are about to experience another part of that continuum. Either way, there's the continuity of life, and of personal expression

Do you think that if you conducted the same experiment in ten years the answers would be different

Yes, I do. I'm hoping to revisit the questions in the Pleasant Valley area within the next year, if I can. I suspect that the first time, so close to 9-11, the answers were colored, shaped by those events. Now, I'm not sure what affects answers to questions of impulse, core belief, and mortality

After interviewing approximately 100 people, how did you decide what to include in the final stories

How to select? Content, a variety of content/answers. If, say, seven people said "family" I didn't need them all, unless they defined family differently or had different reasons for that response. Whenever I was surprised, that had to stay in

The Hare Krishnas in North Carolina surprised me at first, and then I found that the Friends had some similar answers, a wonderful confluence. So, in that case the surprise was the difference in venue and physical appearance (the HK's and the Friends don't exactly dress the same, and the HK's temple was in a geodesic dome, not a rectangular structure) but similar attitudes toward killing

Being articulate is a plus, too, as are different tones and rhythms of speech and I'm always looking for variety of gender, race, age, etc., without artificially manipulating the numbers. It's mighty tough to whittle down the hundred or so to a number that I can realistically use. But, just as in producing a "regular" radio feature, I'm keeping mental notes as I record and then make a few notes in a notebook right after, noting the "hot" stuff

Occasionally I'll use nothing from a venue, though that's rare (happened in Pleasant Valley because I was so caught up in the process I couldn't stop recording.) By the second time through -- in Durham -- I stopped when I returned to the beginning. Sort of like Alice and the advice given to her by the Red Queen. Live? Die? Kill? became a looking glass

The TCF is always interested in how to transform radio into a public experience -- and we know that you presented Live? Die? Kill? in front of an audience at the Center for Documentary Studies in Durham. Please describe the program and how the audience responded. At CDS I gave a documentary performance; a presentation, with some visuals, of the answers to the questions and how I felt about those responses. This time I'd asked the three big, little questions to people within the 30-30 restriction of my home, behind the CDS in Durham. I photographed each responder holding a small dry erase board on which they'd written their name (first, last, their choice). Two dozen or so of these were made into canvas images that were grometted on the corners and hung around the perimeter of the tent that was the event venue. The performance began with a band, Doc Thompson and the Documentarians, singing the Live? Die? Kill? song, with my students in Finding the Voice as chorus, giving their answers to each question (a montage of their prerecorded voices/answers played as people took their seats)

Then I came on, giving some of the background, playing a few excerpts from the Pleasant Valley version. And continued to explore whether answers differed north-south (they did; there's a different type of expression in the south) and then, the answers I received in various venues. I talked, played tape, reflected. At the end, audience members were invited to give their answers, and a number did, including several teens. Then I was asked to give my answers, and the performance ended. The band played, more alcohol was poured, dancing and general carousing occurred. It's the kind of event I'd like to do more of: live documentary

So what are your own answers to: What do you live for? What would you die for? What would you kill for

I think that I live to ask questions, hear the answers and then do what I do, namely, tell others. I also live to try to help, in whatever small way, to alleviate suffering -- or, at the least, I try not to add to it. Die for? Perhaps trying to do the above, perhaps die while trying to live. Kill? I don't kill, not mosquitos, nada. Occasionally I think I inadvertently kill with words. I'm trying to work on that.