It’s been a few years since Paula Deen’s last book appearance, and she’s come to BEA with a new cookbook and lifestyle.

After a diabetes diagnosis forced her to shed 40 pounds, Deen was determined to still enjoy her favorite Southern fare. Her new cookbook, New Testament: 250 Favorite Recipes, All Lightened Up (Ballantine, Oct.), shows readers how to lose calories but not the taste, in her most popular Southern recipes. New Testament reunites Deen with Pamela Cannon, the editor who discovered her, and her original publisher, Random House. Cannon says of the reunion, “Paula’s just a wonderful person. She makes you feel like you’re part of the family. It’s been a really great reunion.”

Cannon first met Deen when she was in Savannah as part of the publicity team for Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Cannon recalls, “I had been spending a lot of time in Savannah, and I’d been itching to flex my muscles in a different way.” She accomplished her goal and then some at Deen’s restaurant, the Lady and Sons. While Cannon didn’t expect more than a great meal that fateful day, she ended up with a bestseller: “I finished my meal and was so impressed with the hostess/waitress/back of the house woman. I thought she was a riot. She’d done a little book, and I’d never edited anything, but I wanted to clean it up and give the book a shot.” Cannon talked her boss and Deen into it, and her first foray as an editor paid off. From Deen’s first cookbook, The Lady and Sons Savannah Country Cookbook, in 1998, through her next 13 cookbooks, she’s sold more than eight million copies. Deen and Cannon will appear together today at the Random House booth (2739), 3–4 p.m., and there may even be “a little nibble” of a surprise in store for attendees.