Guest Post by Meradeth Houston, author of Colors Like Memories

Today, I'm happy to have Meradeth Houston, author of the newly released Colors Like Memories, here on Lauren's Crammed Bookshelf! This may come as surprise to some of you, but I'm a bit of a science nerd, so when I heard about Meradeth's job in molecular anthropology, I couldn't help but ask her to write about it. So without a further ado...

Thanks so much for hosting me, Lauren! My triple-parked bookshelves like your blog name J.

Today I thought I’d talk a little about my day job. I have to admit, I have a kinda cool one. Okay, most people would probably hate it, but I happen to like it. By day, I’m a molecular anthropologist, which for me basically means I study dead people’s DNA. It’s a great way to start a conversation at a party, so long as the other person isn’t too squeamish, hehe! I’ve talked a little about this before (http://meradethhouston.blogspot.com/2012/02/day-job.html) if you want to stop by for some of the nitty-gritty details.

The long and short of what I do is try to get DNA out of old teeth and bones from samples taken from archaeological sites around the world. The goal is to use this DNA to piece together information about the population they came from, who the person was related to, and all kinds of other nifty facts. It’s pretty fun, though also quite possibly the most tedious job of all time. Granted, I like tedious, so that all works out! The other part of my job is teaching at a university—also a very fun job. Well, if you count attempting to entertain 200 undergraduates about the basics of evolutionary theory fun…thankfully I do J.

Most of my days are spent attempting to get my lab set up at my new university, perfecting my inability to smell bleach (for decontaminating stuff of foreign DNA), and putting together teaching plans. Also, I try to fit in some writing in there somewhere. There are plenty of things that writing and The Day Job have in common, the first of which is research. Both leave me spending lots of times reading obscure articles and getting friendly with Google. Another is pulling together lots of little pieces to make a bigger whole. Whether it’s figuring out what happened at an 800 year old archaeological site based on the inhabitant’s relationships, or weaving several hundred pages worth of story together, the skills are pretty similar. And it makes both a lot of fun!

Someday I’ll write a story that incorporates both worlds a little more, someday!

I have total job envy right now, Meradeth!  :)

A bit about the Colors Like Memories:

Julia has a secret: she killed the guy she loved. It was an accident—sort of.

Julia is a Sary, the soul of a child who died before taking her first breath. Without this 'breath of life' she and others like her must help those on the verge of suicide. It's a job Julia used to enjoy, until the accident that claimed her boyfriend’s life—an accident she knows was her fault. If living with the guilt weren't enough, she's now assigned to help a girl dealing with the loss of her mother, something Julia's not exactly the best role model for. If she can't figure out a way to help her, Julia's going to lose her position in the Sary, something she swore to her boyfriend would never happen.

Available from MuseItUp Publishing.

A bit about Meradeth Houston:
Meradeth’s never been a big fan of talking about herself, but if you really want to know, here are some random tidbits about her:

>She’s a Northern California girl. This generally means she talks too fast and use "like" a lot.
>When she’s not writing, she’s sequencing dead people’s DNA. For fun!
>She’s been writing since she was 11 years old. It's her hobby, her passion, and she’s so happy to get to share her work!
>If she could have a super-power, it would totally be flying. Which is a little strange, because she’s terrified of heights.


  1. Thanks so much for hosting me Lauren! I'm always happy to meet other science-peeps and book lovers :)

  2. That does sound like a really interesting job (I don't always like science that much but I think because I like history, that I find this kind of science interesting). Colors Like Memories has a great title and sounds like a good read, too :)

    1. Thanks! My job is the best mix of cool history and science (well, at least imho! :)


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