PW: After 10 books with Bantam, why the switch?

I loved Bantam and they were great to me. But after 10 books, it was time to leave. I looked for a publisher that was willing to help me break out to a larger audience. Morrow/HarperCollins was so enthusiastic that I felt I had to go with them. Plus, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to work with Carolyn Marino again. Morrow has some marvelous marketing plans in the works, including a fabulous nationwide tour—and a giveaway that includes espresso cups printed with the title of the book.

Did you start out wanting to be a chef or a writer?

I wanted to be a writer. Catering to Nobody was the third book I wrote. At first while I was working on it, I had Goldy as a background character. But a critique group I was in said the caterer was too strong to be in the background; she should be the main character!

Why is suspense front and center in Double Shot, with recipes at the back?

I wanted that. Double Shot is a darker book because the stakes are so high. This is the Jerk and this is her son... Goldy is not into police procedure. The way that an amateur sleuth solves a mystery is by studying the community, finding out what the relationships are. It's important to know the results of the autopsy but the most important thing for Goldy is to talk to people to figure out who would want Korman dead and why. I write crime novels, not cozies. I want to look at how a community functions and how it breaks down. What makes people so angry, so upset that they want to go out and kill someone?

How can a woman protect herself?

Self-defense provides some sense of competence, a way of overcoming an inner fear in terms of dealing with external fears. When someone who's made your life difficult dies, you don't have a sense of relief; you have a sense of unfinished business. It doesn't mean you're going to feel any better and that's the shock and that's why Goldy needs to find out what happened. For Goldy, cooking heals. If she can cook, she can get a feeling of control over the world. Cooking is more than just comfort food, it's about nurturing oneself while nurturing others.

What's next on the menu?

Dark Torte, set in a law firm—in Goldy's terms, that makes it sort of dark but automatically funny since it includes lawyers and features a returning character from Killer Pancake.

What does Goldy think about the low carb craze?

Goldy thinks about it the way most nutritionists think—it's just laughable—because balance is the key to good nutrition. Those diets are very hard to stick with. You need carbohydrates because they release serotonin, the happy mood chemical.

Why are culinary mysteries so addictive?

I really enjoy Robert B. Parker. Spenser will take a break in the investigating to sautée veal cutlets with lemon and your mouth starts watering and I think this is so perfect. He's investigating and there's so much darkness looking into the crime, and the foil for that is the cooking. Goldy does that even more because she's in catering. It's the peripatetic movement between criminal activity and culinary activity.

Do you identify with Goldy?

Goldy says and does what I think about doing.