Just what the doctor ordered

BY HOLLY LANE | Evergreen reporter

BookPeople of Moscow will fill its prescription for a good read on Saturday when it welcomes an author and doctor from Bainbridge Island at 7 p.m.

“I always wanted to write fiction,” novelist Dr. Carol Cassella said.

Her latest book, “Gemini,” will be the feature of her visit on Saturday.

“It deals with ethical questions that surround end-of-life decisions in an era of high tech medicine,” she said.

The novel is about an unidentified victim, a “Jane Doe,” of a hit-and-run accident. The doctor becomes not only invested in saving the victim’s life, but finding out who the woman is and why no one has come to claim her.

“Gemini” differs from Cassella’s past novels in that it is told from two points of view: those of both the doctor and the victim, who are both from very different backgrounds yet surprisingly share a similar personality, Cassella said.

“We sort of discover how their lives are interconnected as the book progresses,” she said.

The book is a love story and a mystery, she said.

“I’m really enjoying the scenes from the point of view of the doctor,” said Carol Spurling, co-owner and manager of BookPeople.

Spurling said she about halfway through reading “Gemini,” and knowing Cassella is a doctor, she said she is confident in the medical understanding of the book.

“What she’s writing about is based in her deep knowledge of the subject,” Spurling said.

The alternating points of view almost feel like chapters from two different books, she said.

“It’s unsettling to me, but I love sort of being kept in suspense,” she said.

Spurling said she is really curious to see how the two things are going to connect.

“She starts off this book with some really interesting ideas,” said Jamaica Ritcher, marketing and event coordinator at BookPeople. The book also weaves in some philosophy, she said.

The point of view of the doctor gives insight to the pressures a doctor is under to save patients, Ritcher said.

Casella, who majored in English literature at Duke University, said she found it was hard to make a living in the writing profession. She then switched to medicine when she studied at the Baylor College of Medicine as a graduate student.

Cassella said she didn’t get back into writing until her children were in school when she was working less and had more free time to write.

She now works part-time as physician and is board certified in both internal medicine and anesthesiology, along with being the best-selling author of two of her previous novels, “Oxygen” and “Healer.”

“Her background is fascinating,” Ritcher said.

Cassella is a practicing doctor and a mother of four children, two sets of twins, Ritcher said. She is woman who is very good at balancing her life, she said.

“I try and give readers a sense of what the world is like from a doctor’s perspective,” Cassella said.

Though fiction, Cassella said she works very hard to make sure her novels are medically accurate.

“I think people interested in medicine and science will find my books particularly interesting,” she said.

Nonetheless, her books use language that will be comprehensible to those who have no medical or scientific background, she said.

Spurling said readings like this one are so important to the people and customers here.

“I don’t know what it is exactly about author events that are so special,” she said.

She said these events give insight to the process behind books and can help people appreciate them on a new level.

“I do my best to meet a lot of the independent bookstores in the Pacific Northwest,” Cassella said.

Cassella said she believes independent bookstores are a vital part of our culture and play a big role in helping publishers decide what may or may not sell.

“Anything that I can do to support independent book stores is a joy to me,” she said.