Reader Spotlight: Meet Caitlin!

There are three happy continents that comprise the larger Wilfair world. One is the books. One is this blog. And one is the people who make it all work: My world-class, top-notch, above-and-beyond readers.

You give me a lot, truly, all of you do. If we've spoken here or by email, trust that I've relished the conversation, long or short. 

I met Caitlin just before Christmas, when I put out word on the "Stay Awhile" ARC. She contacted me, was incredibly nice, and then -- and then! -- sent me a wonderfully lengthy note on Christmas Eve Eve. (I know, it is rather precious referring to Dec. 23 that way, but I can lean precious, against my better judgement.)

We've done a lot of talking since, about Wilfair and random, random stuff, and it cheers me to bits. Caitlin's so funny and science-smart (well, every kind of smart, but, you know, I'm mad about the scientific arts). I'll let her tell you more in her Reader Spotlight. 

Meet Caitlin!

A bit about me:

I’m currently a graduate student at the University of Illinois working on my PhD in chemistry. My area of chemistry is called chemical biology, which basically means I use chemical tools to study biological systems. I do a lot of work with bacteria and certain compounds they produce and secrete, called natural products, many of which are potentially useful as antibiotics against other bacteria. I study how a particular bacterial strain produces one of its natural products by studying the genes and enzymes involved in its formation. I’m originally from Oregon and can’t wait to move back to the Pacific Northwest once I’ve finished my degree in 2-3 years.

You had me at "biological systems." Then sealed the deal at "enzymes."

How do you spend a rainy weekend day?

Ideally, I’d be curled up on the sofa with my cat, some hot chocolate, and re-reading a favorite book or having a marathon of Jane Austen adaptations on DVD. There would be a nap in the afternoon, too.

Realistically, I’m probably working in the lab, running errands, or cleaning my apartment. Such is the life of a graduate student.

You had me at "Jane Austen adaptations." And, honestly, errands. Always the errands.

Many people would say happiness is the most important thing in life. What's the second most important thing?


Okay, serious answer: Aside from basic human rights like food and shelter and liberty, I would say understanding. Understanding not only of the physical world and the people around us, but also understanding of oneself, which is something I think often gets overlooked.


In "Redwoodian," some of the characters opt to have their future told via pinecone, but Monty does not because he believes in it a bit too much. Would you have taken a pinecone?

Absolutely! A fortune-telling pinecone would go nicely with the collection of fortune cookie fortunes tacked above my desk. I try not to believe in them too strongly, but at times of stress it’s reassuring to look up and be reminded "Your present plans are going to succeed," or "You will always have good luck in your personal affairs."

The fortune that's been on my fridge forever is "Someone is speaking well of you." I think the someone is probably my mother. Hi, Mom! (My mom, the Wilfair blog lurker.)

How does pre-love differ from love?

I think pre-love is more self-centered. Not necessarily in a bad way, but in the sense that it’s mostly about how this other person makes you feel, and all your stomach-squidginess that goes along with that. In a sense, pre-love is more internal, whereas love is more external, because the focus becomes the other person and the relationship itself. Everyone’s on their best behavior during pre-love, and I believe it takes that deeper understanding and acceptance of one another and their true selves in order for love to develop. (There I go with the "understanding" theme again.)

All interesting. I actually read it, crossed my arms, stared out the window past my computer, and thought semi-deep thoughts for a minute. I very nearly stroked my chin, too. Also, agreed: "Everyone’s on their best behavior during pre-love." More interestingness.

If you're in a group of five friends heading out for the night, who are you? The person who picks the restaurant, the person who listens, the person who insists everyone split a dessert...

I’m the person who throws out a bunch of suggestions for restaurants and then hopes someone else will make the final decision because I don’t want anyone to be unhappy with my choice. I’m not the person who suggests splitting a dessert – I’ll get dessert if I want it, and other people had better get their own!

Good policy on dessert. I can be overly possessive of my French fries. Working on that. Also, I'm the person who wants to change tables twice, especially if a table opens up with a better view, so if we ever go to eat absolutely do not let me do that, b/c it's annoying.

We have a lot of dog people on the blog, but you have the sweetest orange cat. Let's hear about Oliver and have some feline love!

I adopted Oliver from the animal shelter almost two years ago. My parents and I always had a cat or two around when I was growing up, so I’ve been a cat person for a long time. Shortly after I adopted him, Oliver had to have his top canine teeth removed, so now sometimes his top lip catches on one of his lower teeth, giving him a bit of an Elvis lip curl. His favorite activities are sleeping (preferably on someone’s lap), looking out the window, hunting crickets, and sleeping.


Oliver's a pumpkin. More cats are needed 'round Wilfair HQ.

Caitlin, we've talked a lot about music and the sound of the Wilfair world over the last several weeks and your perspective. Beyond being totally fun, it has given me some great insight. Turns out a lot of our song choices are the same, too. Do you want to share a few of your picks and why you chose them for specific books or characters or parts of a book?

"Can’t Go Back Now" – The Weepies: For Fair, a song about growing up.

"Undiscovered" – James Morrison: Long before I ever read "Wilfair", my personal name for this song was "The Late Bloomer Anthem", so it was a no-brainer.

"Can You Tell" – Ra Ra Riot: One of my favorite "I like you but I don't know how to tell you that I like you" songs. "It’s hard to stay cool when you smile at me, and I get nervous every time you speak." If that doesn’t describe Fair and Gomery, then I don’t know what does.

"Different" – Air Traffic Controller: This song reminds me of the gang getting ready to go on their road trip at the end of "Wilfair" and the new phases that their relationships are entering.

"I’m Gonna Break Your Heart" – Joy Williams: Fair’s thoughts, especially during "Redwoodian", over what to do about Gomery and the motel.

"It’s Only Life" – The Shins: I love the relationship between Fair and her father. This song reminds me of him giving her advice in both "Redwoodian" and "Stay Awhile".

"Be Gentle With Me" – The Boy Least Likely To: Sunshine sparkles rainbows hugs! Not the swears, but the real things. It also makes me think of "sparky bundle of berserkeries".

"King of Anything" – Sara Bareilles: I imagine Fair saying all these things to Thurs when she tells him off in "Stay Awhile".

"Life Is Life" – Noah and the Whale: I love this song about making changes and taking charge of your life. It seems fitting for when Fair steals the mint dish and sneaks over to the motel in the middle of the night.

"We Are Only Getting Better" – Joshua Radin: I think the optimism of this song and its message about moving forward make it a good fit for the end of "Stay Awhile".

"Hang On" – Weezer: A song from Gomery's point of view, under the topiaries at the end of "Stay Awhile".

"Swimming Pool" – The Submarines: One of my favorite songs about falling in love, made extra special because just look at that title!

Caitlin, thank you so much for sharing so many music inspirations with me! I've been bowled over by the breadth and emotion of your picks and have added many of your suggestions to the next book's playlist. Thank you x 1000. I just. I mean. I love all of it. I do.


Part of my favorite thing about the Reader Spotlights is picking out a photo or two to go with them. Here are two for you, Caitlin, snapped on my last trip to the Beaver State. 

This tree, which was outside my friend's window, kept me company. I absolutely flip over fir trees (the second book's title might reveal that). This beauty had me pre-thinking about that story.

The friend I stayed with -- the most Sutton-esque of all my peeps -- took me to the corner of 12th and Hawthorne in Portland on a blustery day. I ate this delicious fig, apple, and blue cheese crepe (it may have well been here when I decided Monty Overbove loved crepes). I mention the corner because a) I love where streets meet and b) Hawthorne felt like home. Girls in glasses and loud knee socks.

Want to meet in the Hawthorne District for a crepe one day?


Caitlin said...

Douglas fir, Oregon state tree and #2 thing I miss most about the west coast. Thanks for that!

I will absolutely meet you for a crepe someday. Then we'll head down the street to Powell's on Hawthorne.

Wilfair Book said...

Let's hit a McMenamins, too, for a pint! And maybe the Bagdad Theatre. And this one store on Hawthorne where I bought these boots I love and have never seen sold anywhere else.

Douglas fir. ♥

kitzie said...

Ummm, Caitlin, I may have squeeee'd when I read about your science-y-ness. Ok, it was mental, because I'm in the lab taking a break from price checking some enzymes at NEB (wtf about the new website?) and verifying the exact sequence of a gigantic set of DNA-modules in plasmids I'm abouts ta do some cool shizz with. I don't know ANYONE else from The Lab who likes YA!!!!! Everyone just looks at me funny when I talk about it, you know, like I'm not serious enough to be here. Do you ever feel lonely???

Also: JA adaptations! Are awesome.

And also: My Gramma's cat Bert also had an Elvis sneer! So funny. Oliver's adorable. (But so looks like he's about to cut me in the Elvis pic. Maybe it's his bad-ass expression.)

Erika said...

Caitlin, I'm going to spend this Saturday afternoon listening to that playlist!

Caitlin said...

Alysia: Yes, McMenamins! Aside from the great ones in Portland, the one in Bend is also a theater where you get to sit in comfy chairs and enjoy a burger and a beer while you watch your movie. Also, the McMenamin's in McMinnville (where I went to college), the Hotel Oregon, is supposedly haunted. Maybe it's a vacation home for the Lady in Sequins?

kitzie: Whee, other sciencey people! (And wtf is right about the new NEB website.) I suspected from your sequin picture that you might be another lab person. There is someone else in my lab who reads YA, but her tastes run more towards the dystopian, Hunger Games type stuff. I mean, I like the Hunger Games too, but it's kind of the polar opposite of Wilfair.

Erika: Hooray! That makes me so happy. I hope you enjoy it.

Chiara said...

Hi Caitlin! Nice to meet you :)

I like your idea of tacking fortunes above your desk!

Your restaurant choosing policy sounds like a good one and for desserts (or any other meal for that matter), I'm all up for splitting when that means two desserts and half for each.

The picture of Oliver under the blankets is too adorable!

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