Thursday, October 8, 2009

Talking With Carol Cassella, author of Oxygen!

Carol Cassella is with us this month as Spotlighted Author. She is very busy juggling her professional and personal life and still work on completion of her second book. Sooooo, she's going to share on an ongoing basis and if everything goes write, we'll have an "on the wall" interview for everybody at the end of the month! How Cool is that?!!! First, here's a little background:

Where are you from?

First, thank you for selecting me to spotlight on your blog this month! I look forward also to talking with you and others at Facebook later this month.

I grew up in Dallas, Texas. I moved away for college and then lived in the Northeast for a few years. I always knew I wanted to live somewhere that an invigorating and artistic city was in close proximity to great natural beauty, because both those settings are vitally important and inspiring to me. Alas, as much as a Texan is always a Texan, I didn’t find the right combination there. I returned to Texas to go to medical school, but thought I’d move back to New York or Boston. Then I visited a friend in Seattle. It was the fourth of July—72 degrees, mountains and water in every direction. We went to a good restaurant, the Pike Place Market, a play, and then the next night we were camping in the Olympic Mountains. I was in heaven!!

When did you start writing? When did you know that you wanted to be a writer?

The first clear memory I have of writing is at about the age of eight or nine. My parents had an ancient Underwood typewriter, with sticky keys but the amazing capacity to type some words in red. I started my first book on it. “A Witch Called Hazel.” I was the youngest of three girls, and by the time I was old enough for playmates my sisters were too busy with their own social lives, so books became my closest friends. I could completely lose hours, days and weeks in them—I still could if I weren’t so busy. I think that exposure to and love for written descriptions worked its way into how I see my world. I have always walked through my days silently describing them, writing sentences that play with the right word or phrase to capture what I’m experiencing.

Carol, I can perfectly understand your early choice of books as friends. I had two older sisters plus a brother. They were the ones that learned to dance, went skating and learned to ride a bicycle. They too became too busy when all of that was my time to learn...but there were always books!

Your first book was about your professional life, was this planned for a series? Or, Where do your ideas and subjects come from?

OXYGEN was definitely born inside my professional life as an anesthesiologist. I had been scanning for subject matter for years, and when I began training as an anesthesiologist I discovered wonderful material there. We are such a hidden profession—there is so much to tell people about what we do, and how we affect their lives. But even more, I found the metaphor of Oxygen—the most critical safety element during anesthesia—to be perfect for the themes I was interested in exploring. Another, more practical aspect of setting my novel in the world of an anesthesiologist is that I had no time to do any research! I needed to write about what I know. I don’t have any plans for a sequel to OXYGEN right now—I think I’ve said what I wanted to say about my hospital work. I am still writing about medicine and medical science in my second novel, and probably most of my novels to come. Medicine is too much a part of me to leave it out of my writing.

I think most of us look to our work to find much to share about our own lives. However, the medical area is fascinating to many of us, so I was especially happy to learn about your role, finding it is much more important than I realized since, as you said, it is "a hidden profession."

Readers...more later! Carol is working...