PW: Can you define your profession? What would you call yourself, first and foremost? An actor? An author [of Somersize Chocolate]? A self-help mentor?

Suzanne Somers: If anything, I'm a reinvention specialist. Leaving Three's Company [because I wanted to be paid more] forced me to reinvent myself and focus on what I had and what I didn't have. What I had was enormous visibility. That's a tangible asset. If sitcoms weren't going to work for me, then what other door could I open with my visibility? The next door was Vegas. And now I could because I had visibility. In '87 I was named Entertainer of the Year. And then television started beckoning back, and I went and did She's the Sheriff and then I did Step by Step, then Candid Camera, then 8-Track Flashback on VH1. I guess at the top of the list then I'm known as a TV personality. Maybe an actress/entertainer/author/entrepreneur. At different times different things move to the top of the list. Lately the entertainer/actress has been on the bottom of the list.

How did you go from acting to writing books about health and fitness?

When I was in Vegas working night clubs, I had to do something during the day. So I wrote books. Books led to lectures. That led to the Suzanne Somers Institute [for the Effects of Addictions on the Family]. Then I switched over to selling, and the first thing I sold was the ThighMaster. And then I went, "Aha! Hmm. If you love it and you've got visibility, they will probably listen." Then I gained weight; I gained 20 pounds. I started researching, and that resulted in my book Eat Great Lose Weight. Now, 11 books later, my publisher has just made a deal with me for nine more. My interests are varied. I've written about food, about spirituality, menopause....

How do you create the recipes in your books?

I gather and experiment for most of the year, and then I bring in chefs and for three days and we test the recipes.

Some of these recipes—like Chocolate Blackout Cake, or Triple Chocolate Terrine—sound too good to be true. How can they be healthy?

SomerSweet [Somers's own low-carbohydrate, sugar free sweetener, which is used in all recipes] isn't like Splenda, which tastes so bad. It's not like Nutrasweet or Sweet 'n' Low, which is all chemicals. Unfortunately it's not chemical free, but in the meantime it's so delicious.

Why do you think your books sell so well?

My readers trust me. The women who buy from me on Home Shopping trust me. I don't sell anything I don't love. I don't say anything I don't do myself. I don't put myself up as perfect. My life is an open book, and I'm a woman with problems, and I've found a happy life in spite of it. Women who come from violent abuse, or have weight problems, or have had problems blending families, or who have hormone problems—I've had it all. And somehow I still have a smile on my face. I think they think, "I'll have what she's having."