"In The Limelight"

 Our guest interview for September is NanU and her blog is Have Genes Will Travel.


When did the photo bug bite you? 
Sometime after grad school. It actually bit my brother first, and I was so impressed with his photos. He even did his own developing.

What was your first camera and what do you use now?
I bought a Minolta something or other when I moved to New Haven as a post-doc. Then my brother declared that photography was too expensive, and the only way to prevent himself from taking way too many pictures and developing his debt was to get rid of his Canon. So he gave it to me, and I was thrilled to have two cameras because I could have both color and black & white on hand.
Today I use a Sony A450E, which is half broken down from being dropped. I broke the screen the first month I had it, but it wasn’t under warranty (bought cheap on Ebay) so I’ve been using it as if it were the film kind. Then last month it hit the ground yet again and now close-ups are not in focus through the viewfinder (though they are in the resulting photo, so I’m not cameraless I just can’t do macros). I am thinking of upgrading with a new camera body, though. Some of the functions you need the screen for.

Have you ever taken any photography courses?
Nope. I did buy a little book once, How to Take Better Pictures, a simple 10-rules thing. That’s all I need. Get in close. Pay attention to the light. Pay attention to the background. Pay attention to the framing. Pay attention, period. I should really learn how to adjust the depth of field & stuff. Wonder where that book got to...
What inspires you to turn on the camera, the gotta have it shot?

Sometimes I have a story to tell, sometimes I’m thinking of my parents or friends I want to share a trip with. It’s so heavy, if it’s with me it’s because I’m on a mission.
What is on your equipment wish list?

A new, fully working camera.

Have you missed an awesome shot because you didn’t have your camera with you?
Oh, how many! So many I’ve got to stop thinking of them as missed shots, and just those special moments of in life you have to enjoy as they go by. If I went around all the time armed to take those shots, that’s all I would ever do, and it would get to be like highlighting in a textbook: you spend so much attention looking for things to highlight you don’t actually learn what it’s trying to teach you. I want to look up and say ‘Ah!’ and appreciate it, instead of saying ‘bagged it’ as if that was what was important.


Blogging since...
February, 2008 (good god, has it been that long!), though that doesn’t really count. I posted for a week, and then not again until December.

Why did you start blogging?
My boyfriend at the time hurt me terribly, and I set up the blog as a way of venting. Scream in the night kind of thing. Nobody heard, of course, since I didn’t link anywhere or visit any other blogs. (those posts are gone now - don’t bother looking for them!)
But that was a one-off thing.
I have always written these huge letters about my travels, accompanied by lots of photos, and lots of people (well, maybe 5) wanted to read them but that’s a lot of photo printing. So just put it on line! Have Genes Will Travel is that blog.
My other blog is addressed to my young nieces, currently 4, 6 and 8, as a way of keeping them in my life when we don’t see each other hardly at all. They’ve all see Maurice, the star, in person, so there’s a connection there.

Is there a story behind the name of your blog?
Have Genes Will Travel comes from my being a geneticist who loves to travel. And yes, it’s a derivative of the TV series title Have Gun - Will Travel, which I have never seen.
Pink Rabbit Abroad just seemed obvious for my stuffed pink buddy and his adventures, whether on the road with me or something cooked up in the back yard.

What does blogging mean to you now?
It’s a way of keeping up with friends, and making new ones. My parents read my blog almost daily, though they never comment. It’s also a creative outlet. I used to keep a journal and write letters, but the blog and facebook have replaced that. My fountain pen was clogged with dry ink the last time I tried to use it. It’s a shame to let go of the journal, though, because I find I don’t treat a topic in depth on the blog, the way I used to in ink.

What advice would you give to a new blogger?
Write for yourself, not for your audience. Don’t live for comments. It’s depressing sometimes how I’ll have a dozen ‘loved it’ comments on some piece of fluff, while a long-considered essay on something ‘important’ goes by without mention. Don’t let that mean you should cater to the commenters. Say what you want to say.

Do you have a favorite time of the day to write posts?
Usually I post when I get to work in the morning, or when hanging around before going home for the day.

Have you set any goal about your blog? Anything you want to achieve with it?
I had fantasies of Maurice becoming one of those blogs with a cult following of thousands. Some of the posts are seriously funny, like the Superpower series, or the wind-up dinosaurs. In my opinion!
No, there’s no goal beyond reaching a few people. If I hit on entertaining or informative once in a while, that’s a bonus.

Guest Interview Questions

Questions from Redlan:
What's the satisfying compliment someone told you about your blog or post?

Any time somebody leaves a comment that with a detailed response or debate that continues the post, I’m thrilled. C’mon, argue with me! I love people to engage, though it’s still nice know they’ve been by.

What do you do with your taken photos?
Since going digital they’ve gone onto a hard drive, on Facebook, and on the blogs. I haven’t printed anything beyond a Best-of ’09 book I had done for my folks, though I do plan to print more albums like that.

Ann would like to know……

What kind of genre do you blog?
Read them and find out!
Have Genes Will Travel generally recounts my travels, plus the two memes I do (the Friday Shootout, and TFE’s Monday Poetry Bus) and random thoughts.
Pink Rabbit Abroad is full of short, mostly made-up tales of a rather stuffy stuffed rabbit and his uncouth, troublemaking, lazy, laboratory rat friends. With the occasional post concerning a variety of small
wind-up toys.


If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go?

What would you like to teach others?
Molecular Oncogenetics. Also, DNA repair.
Oh, you mean outside of class.
That your life is what you make of it, and is built of your choices. Including the passive ones!

What is happiness to you?
So many things! So context-dependent!
A good sleep, a hot bath, good company, a quiet evening, train tickets, new horizons, a good book, a nicely turned phrase, cats, pesto, sunshine...

Besides blogging or photography, what is your favorite thing to do?
Explore. The blog recounts my exploring, the photos document it. The going is the thing!

Favorite saying or quotation: (or any comment you would like to make)
Let’s go!

Thank you NanU for accepting to be our September "In The Limelight" interview.


  1. LOL...I loved this hon...wonderful interview! I also have enjoyed the pink bunny adventures!! I love that your neices and your parents read your blog..how wonderful is that!! You are a facinating woman!!! Hugs, Sarah

  2. Thanks, Sarah! It was an honor and a pleasure to do the interview.
    It was pretty strange to see my own face on my link list today, even though I knew it was coming. Should really update that profile photo...

  3. Molecular Oncogenetics, I understand oncology is to do with cancer, so is your work to do with the BIG C?

    Glad to read this interview and we know each other well.

  4. Yes, Ann, I work in establishing the genetic risk of cancer in predisposed families.

  5. interesting NanU. if it is easy to answer, what makes a predisposed family? (you answer to ann above)

  6. Terrific, Nan. I like to pat myself on the back when something I suspect is proven to be correct - always thought you were an interesting person!
    Keep up the good work, in your job and on your blog with the tales and photos.

  7. NanU, I agree totally about the shot missed. sometimes I say to myself, that was for my mind's eye to remember! nice to see a few more details about who you are.

  8. I really enjoyed this interview NanU. I always wonder how different folks got to where they are now. Quite an interesting field of work you are in. Worked an an oncology nurse for a short time in the 80's.

  9. Another good interview. I am curious as to how you ended up at a research facility in France, though. Any plans to live/work elsewhere?

    Oh, and your advice regarding writing for yourself, not your commenters, is good stuff. So true.


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