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Author continues catering to readers

| Tuesday, July 9, 2002

Davidson will be in Oakmont at 7 p.m. Friday to talk about her latest novel and sign books at an event sponsored by Mystery Lover's Book Shop at St. Irenaeus Roman Cath-olic Church hall.

The $28 ticket price includes a hardcover copy of "Chopping Spree," an hors d'oeuvres buffet provided by McGinnis Sisters, Monroeville, and Spice-of-Life Cookies (recipe from the book) baked by Davidson and husband, Jim.

Her delectable new mystery again combines recipes she developed with a tantalizing mystery that finds Goldy catering an event at a local mall and finding a body in the shoe department of a major store.

Davidson, 53, says she always loved to read and enjoyed writing, but never aspired to write for a living until a 10th-grade English teacher suggested it. "That stunned me," Davidson says, noting she pursued other interests such as teaching and rearing children before actually giving birth to Goldy Schultz, her alter ego.

She never imagined Goldy would accumulate such a devoted following worldwide. "In Spain, people love Goldy - and in Germany and Japan," Davidson says.

Her first Goldy book, "Catering to Nobody," was greeted lukewarmly, Davidson says. "Publishers soundly rejected it. They said the culinary mystery was dead. It's now in its 23rd or 24th printing, and 'Dying for Chocolate' is in its 29th," she adds.

Davidson is among fortunate people who have been able to combine the things they love to earn a livelihood. "I love cooking. When my husband and I were first married, I couldn't cook at all - I warned him. I developed an interest in cooking while we lived in California. They have the most wonderful produce."

While a senior at Stanford University, she says she watched Julia Child's daily PBS television show religiously and also lived near the test kitchens for Sunset Books. She worked her way through "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" and developed a love for all things culinary.

"In 'Catering to Nobody,' Goldy was a background character, but a critique group told me I should make the caterer the main character, so I approached a caterer and told him I would work for free if he taught me about the catering business," Davidson says.

Making Goldy the protagonist was a smart decision. In correspondence, people say they love the character of Goldy and her son, Arch, and Julian, a young culinary student who is similar to a second son to Goldy.

Davidson, who has been married for 33 years, says her husband does not accompany her to book signings, and people always ask whether he is the inspiration for Goldy's abusive ex-husband and Arch's father, Dr. John Richard Korman, a k a "The Jerk."

"He is not," she says emphatically. "He is wonderful."

Davidson describes Goldy as "some kind of inner voice. I write letters to Goldy, and she writes back. I admire the way she took the lemons of her life and made lemonade, lemon pound cake and lemon lush."

Goldy is a sympathetic character because of her strengths and her frailties. Victimized by a brutal husband, she nevertheless managed to escape him and forge a new life.

Although she and her heroine have similarities - they look somewhat alike - Davidson says they are different. "She is more out there than I am. I'm more of an observer because I'm a writer." Goldy also is a fighter, she says, "fierce with bodies in trouble."

Another dissimilarity is that Goldy is not aging - and won't. "I've had to make a calendar of her life and how old she and Arch are. She is in the 90s, so I have to be careful of technology, and I have to keep up with what people are eating," she says, noting people use the recipes she develops for her books.

She has a few rules for recipes she publishes. "A. The recipe can't be too complicated, or it will drive people from cooking. B. It has to pass our taste test. C. All ingredients have to be available in a good grocery store."

And, while she wants people to try those recipes, her foremost hope is that they enjoy her books. "I want people to be entertained, and I mean that from the bottom of my heart. I do a lot of research, and people write that they enjoy learning. But I'm not trying to teach, and whatever morals Goldy has, I'm not trying to preach. The main thing is that people are entertained and have fun."

She encourages fans to come to the Oakmont event. "I hope people come and bring their friends. I love the family feeling at book signings. And I'm even bringing cookies," she adds.

If you go


  • What: Talk and book signing

  • When: 7 p.m. Friday

  • Where: St. Irenaeus Roman Catholic Church hall, Maryland Avenue, Oakmont

  • Tickets: $28, includes book and hors d'oeuvres buffet

  • Details: 412-828-4877 or mysterylovers.com

    About the book


  • "Chopping Spree," by Diane Mott Davidson. Bantam Books, 2002. $23.95.

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