This paper details steps that were taken to ensure authentic narrative development in two cross-cultural studies of oppressed participants when interpreters were used actively in the research process. The recent interview-based studies of migrants from Burma living in Thailand highlighted some important issues of narrative methodology and analysis when interpreters were used not just as language translators but as cultural conduits. Recruitment, selection and training of the interpreters were important, and review of their translations was essential, in ensuring that the narratives were authentic. Throughout the interview-based cross-cultural studies we learned to understand the complexity of narrative methodology and analysis in exploited populations; appreciated that a ʻlife storyʼ is complex and determined and shaped by socioeconomic and political forces; and identified ways of optimising the active role of interpreters in narrative development in cross-cultural research.