Based on the book of the same name by Trent Dalton, Netflix’s ‘Boy Swallows Universe‘ unfolds Eli Bell’s turbulent life. It begins with a 13-year-old Eli living with his brother, Gus, their mother, Fiona, and her partner, Lyle, who is a drug dealer. Things take one dangerous turn after another after Lyle makes some questionable choices and puts himself and the rest of the family in jeopardy. While trying to expose the people who did them wrong, Eli meets Caitlyn Spies, a journalist whose dedication to her job knows no bounds. Eli harbors a crush on her, which, when he gets older, he wishes would turn into something more. Considering that Dalton partially based the book on his real life, one wonders if Caitlyn is inspired by his real-life partner.
Caitlyn Spies is a Fictionalised Version of Fiona Franzmann
Trent Dalton was inspired by his wife, Fiona Franzmann, to create the character of Caitlyn Spies. Like Caitlyn, Fiona is also a journalist. She and Dalton have been married for about thirty years and have two daughters, Beth and Sylvie, both of whom are teenagers.
In the show, Eli has a crush on Caitlyn since he was a child. There is quite an age gap between them, but that doesn’t deter Eli from expressing his feelings for her when he walks into adulthood and becomes a journalist as well. In real life, Dalton and his wife met for the first time when he joined Brisbane News magazine as a journalist. He said she looked like actress Toni Pearen from ‘E Street.’ Dalton didn’t know of her before this, which shows that Eli’s teenage crush on Caitlyn is a fictional addition to the story.
Dalton revealed that he was smitten by Fiona the first time he saw her, and with time, his feelings for her only got stronger. Fiona, who was more experienced in the job, helped Dalton in his early days on the desk and would even occasionally edit his work and complain about his misuse of the apostrophe. He also revealed how he would nod in agreement whenever she talked about how she wasn’t concerned about settling down with someone but internally wished to express his feelings for her.
Sometime later, Dalton and Fiona went to a concert by the band Powderfinger, of which she was a huge fan. Dalton saw an opportunity, ripped a poster from the bar, and took it to Bernard Fanning, the singer, to sign. Dalton told him that he was doing it to impress a girl, so Fanning wrote something like, “This guy really likes you.” When Dalton gave it to Fiona, she read the message and revealed that she liked him back.
A few years after they started dating, the couple got married and have been going strong since. While Dalton has become a public figure since ‘Boy Swallows Universe’ took the world by storm, Fiona has preferred to stay out of the limelight. While the author often talks about his love for his wife and how important a role she has played in shaping his life and career, he also respects her privacy and never divulges too much about their marriage and their daughters.
Presumably, Fiona still works as a journalist and is just as dedicated to her work as Caitlyn is in the show. While she and Dalton did not have the same arc as Eli and Caitlyn, their journalism has shed light on the pertinent issues plaguing the community, and together, they have tried to change the world for the better.