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Bainbridge author Carol Cassella raises tough questions in ‘Healer’
As an anesthesiologist at Seattle’s Virginia Mason Medical Center, Bainbridge Island resident Carol Cassella is an expert at putting people to sleep.
As a best-selling author, not so much.
Her debut novel “Oxygen,” hit a nerve with readers as protagonist Dr. Marie Heaton wrestled with matters of life and death against the backdrop of the U.S. medical system. Fueled with an insider’s knowledge, Cassella deftly crafted believable characters and surprising plot twists. In other words, it’s a page-turner.
In her second novel, “Healer,” released Tuesday by Simon & Schuster, Cassella presents another female protagonist in the medical profession. But like her own two sets of twins, the books share the same DNA, but “each expresses it differently.”
What both books do share is Cassella’s commitment to “raising interesting questions.” The answers to which she leaves for her readers to decide, trusting her sense that books are a “participatory artform.”
Cassella is about to embark on a promotional tour for “Healer,” and enjoys the opportunity to converse with readers.
“All sales pressure from the industry aside, it is the conversation between us, the author and reader and bookseller, that is the true heart and soul of a book tour,” she wrote on her website’s blog. She has it all, the book, the blog, the twitter account. She entered the industry just as it was changing.
“The publishing industry is on a rapid train and no one is really sure where it’s headed,” she said. “You might as well spend your time wishing the covered wagon was going to come back.”
Still, she guards against spending too much time on the “peripherals,” so as not to lose sight of what’s important: time to write, time with her family.
She’s learned a lot since Oxygen.
“I’ve been practicing medicine for so long. And it took me years to fully understand the business of it, the hierarchy, the expectations, how to move within the system,” she said. “The publishing industry is just as complicated.”
Cassella always knew she wanted to be a writer, she said, even majoring in English Literature at Duke University before switching to medical school. She never felt ready until her children headed off to school and she found herself with a “huge gift of time.”
She signed up for Field’s End classes (www.fieldsend.org) which “made a huge difference,” she said. “I met other writers, I developed a writing community.”
Casella, whose third book is “gestational now,” will find herself on the other side of the microphone at next year’s Field’s End Conference, this time on its panel of celebrated authors.
In “Healer,” Claire Boehning puts a medical career on hold after she falls for Addison, a biochemist on the cusp of a breakthrough. When his fledgling biotech lab discovers a bloodtest that detects ovarian cancer, their lives are suddenly swept up on a wave of wealth and status.
But when a scandal threatens their life of privilege, Claire is forced to move to rural Hallum to revive her medical skills to support her family under trying circumstances. Working at a struggling public health clinic, she meets Miguela, a mysterious Nicaraguan immigrant who has come to the U.S. on a secret quest. As she befriends Miguela, a mystery unfolds that threatens to destory Claire’s family and forces her to question what it really means to be a healer.
Get a dose
Carol Cassella reads from her new novel, “Healer,” from 3-4 p.m. Sunday at Eagle Harbor Book Company, 157 Winslow Way.
Cassella will be celebrating not only the book’s release, but its being named as an Indie Next Pick for September.
For more information, call 842-5332 or visit www.eagleharborbooks.com.