Carol Wiley Cassella, whose first novel, "Oxygen," won rave reviews, is a real-life Wonder Woman, juggling duties as a physician, a writer, wife and mother of two sets of twins.

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This is what the book jacket says: Carol Wiley Cassella majored in English literature at Duke University and graduated from medical school in 1986. She practices anesthesiology in Seattle and is a freelance medical writer specializing in public-health advocacy for the developing world ( is the mother of two sets of twins and is working on her next novel.


The book jacket is for Cassella’s first novel, “Oxygen,” picked up, first-shot-out-of-the-barrel, by Simon & Schuster, with a comparison to mega-best-selling author Jodi Picoult.


The twins, by the way, are 12 and 13. The medical writing was for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The anesthesiology work is at Virginia Mason Medical Center. Cassella also belongs to a writer’s group. And commutes from Bainbridge Island. And she’s on the board of the Bainbridge-Ometepe Sister Island Association.

I need a nap.

Q: How did you catch the Bainbridge writing virus?

A: When (author) David Gutterson opened up Field’s End, the writer’s community, I immediately signed up for classes.

Q: How did you have time for that?

A: I did the writing when the kids were in school, on the days I was not in the hospital. I have a really supportive husband who never laughed at me. I was working full time until Will and Sara were born. Then I went to 60 percent. With the book I’ve dropped to 40 percent. Q: How do you have time for another book?

A: I learned some things from the first novel. Now I know when a sentence needs to go: When my first instinct is to kick it out, I do.

Q: What’s today looking like?

A: I’m still in my bathrobe, but I do have my coffee and I’ve answered some e-mail. I’m going to sit at the computer and revise a couple of chapters. Then I’m going to drive to Seattle and go to Bothell and do a reading and sign some books, and then I have to be at the hospital at 6 in the morning. In between, of course, I’m sure I’ll write some more chapters. And I’m doing a blog on a guest Web site.

Q: Is this how they all go?

A: They vary between hospital days and nonhospital days. On hospital days I get up at 4, walk on the ferry and walk up the hill to Virginia Mason. On average, those are 10- to 11-hour days. I come home, feed the family and collapse. When I’m not at the hospital it’s kids, mail, cleaning the kitchen, laundry, a run and car pools to ballet, tennis, soccer followed by homework and piano. We love those healthy Trader Joe’s frozen dinners on nights I work. Q: Do you have time for spare time?

A: You have to make spare time important and put it on your list.