Tell us a bit about your novel.Briefly: a red-hot narcissistic compulsively healthy-living control freak - Lance Packhard - who happens to be a bankrupt sex-therapist (writing a book called “Sensual Secrets of a Sexual Surrogate”) gets hired to impregnate a woman who just loves food. Millie Deafly. She’s not interested in men, let alone someone like our hero. So in order to get close to her, he gets himself hired as an assistant to the Chef at Guilty Pleasures - a dinner club belonging to our heroine - and her partner, Serge. Serge used to be a prostitute in Istanbul, a fluffer in skin-flicks in Vegas and is now a Master Chef in London. He’s also a homosexual black dwarf with major personality/sensitivity issues. Every night a new set of crazy guests come to the Guilty Pleasures to pig out, and poor Lance (as his alter-ego, a geeky but sexy Will) finds himself sucked in to a riotous world of eccentricity and sensuality quite unlike anything he’s ever experienced. He suddenly finds himself falling madly in love with his “subject”… and about to be outed as an impostor! If you want to know how it ends, read the book! (It’s really funny) Every chapter opens with “advice” from Lance’s how-not-to book, and closes with excerpts from Millie’s diary. I had an obscene amount of fun writing this book. I hope my readers enjoy reading it.
What gave you the idea for Guilty Pleasures? How long did it take you to write?
One night we had a Girl’s Only dinner at a friend’s place. We had something Mexican I’d made, I believe; and lots of wine. Lots. Lovely red wine, which led to confession time; so these wonderful, bright, successful, stunningly beautiful women started talking about their sex lives. And they weren’t getting any “Satisfaction” as Mick might say. So I got home and suddenly Lance showed up and says: “Hello! I’m Lance Packhard, Pubic Detective Extraordinaire! Looking for a lost Orgasm? Call me! Satisfaction guaranteed!” THEN Serge pushed him aside. “This arsehole doesn’t know WHAT he’s talking about! You wanna know about sensuality, desire and passion for life? You talk to ME! I was -and still am - the absolute BEST in the business! Lemme tell you a story…” And that is how it happened. I wrote a chapter a day, for about three months. That was it. I was taking dictation...
Which character was your favourite to create? Why?
I didn't CREATE him. He just showed up! I loved living with Serge inside my head. He is funny and fierce and loyal. A survivor. A wonderful character. I had a hard time keeping him in his place. He wanted to take over the whole book! Only way to get him to behave was to promise him he would get his OWN book...He's still here, waiting.
If you were asked to make a soundtrack for Guilty Pleasures, what songs would be on it?
There is a soundtrack to it! I love music and it keeps creeping up in the story! I would use a lot of James songs for Millie: Laid, She's a Star; Waltzing Along; oh and Cure: Love Cats; but her "shattered song" would be "Someone That Cannot Love" by a brill singer called David Fonseca. Lance is a Neil Diamond fan so a lot of his scenes would go thatta way; Lance's broke up song would be "Creep". Serge would be snazzy, cheeky and jazzy; Hendricks is a Goth...
If your book was turned into a movie, who would you choose to play the leading characters?
Oh that is HARD! Millie would be Adele...Sensuous, so utterly lovely! Lance/Will would be Diogo Morgado (he can do cocky sex-appeal AND geeky-vulnerable and he is so gorgeous).I don't think I could convince Morgan Freeman to do an entire movie on his knees, so Serge would be Peter Dinklage. He is AMAZING; he forces me to interrupt writing so I can watch him in Game of Thrones..
What’s your writing process like?
I don't really have one. Really. The characters write themselves. The story tells itself to me. I listen, I write it down. I'm just as astonished at how things turn out as anyone else. The characters just show up, push me around, tell their story and then leave...
About the author
What is a normal day for you? Take us through your usual routine.
I have a pre-pubescent pre-teen girl? I don't do normal.
My usual routine starts at 7:00, I go to work (day-job, starving writers etc).
I take a train along the shore, and then a long walk by a sea wall to the office. (My desk is separated from the ocean by a 12 foot high picture window and a 5 meter wide quay, it's what keeps me sane).
So I work, I go home at the end of the day, 18:00 train ride. Get home, make dinner; the usual gripes: "Mom! YOU RUIN MY LIFE!"; I put in another three hours on the keyboard, and usually try to be in bed by 24:00...
When you’re not writing, what else do you like to do?
Oh I love reading, and drawing, and painting and cooking. I love music too, I love singing (badly and loudly!)... And I love writing. I do it even when I'm not doing it, if you know what i mean.
Tell us about the day you found out Guilty Pleasures was going to be published.
How did you react?
After about a year of sending the manuscript to agents and publishers, I got used to receiving these e-mails that said: "WE LOVED YOUR STORY! I killed myself laughing, the Acquisitions Department loved the concept; however...It is not our Genre.Don't give up, it's a GREAT story!" Everyone laughed, everyone loved, nobody published...HUNDREDS of lovely encouraging "no"'s. So one day I saw another e-mail, I clicked on it. I read it. I didn't understand a single word it said. So I read it again. And again. It was weird. I just couldn't understand. My daughter came over and said: "Mom, why are you crying?" And I was. So I told her, "I think someone wants to publish the story, but I can't be sure." And she started crying too.
Is there a certain book that has made a lasting impression on you?
Yes. Harper Lee's To Kill a Mocking Bird. It is so absolutely perfect.
Also "The Count of Monte Cristo" by Alexander Dumas. It was my first "grownup book".
My Father gave it to me when I turned 7. I love that book.
What made you want to become a writer?
Oh dear....You think people WANT to be writers??? It's not a choice, it's an affliction, a compulsion. Stories possess and overwhelm you. You either let them out or explode.
If you were planning your perfect aphrodisiac recipe, what would it be and why?
Let me tell you a secret…There are no “perfect aphrodisiac recipes”! The secret is eating with someone who awakens you in every way: your heart, your mind, your sensuality. So the perfect aphrodisiac recipe? The main ingredient is the guest.You can serve pizza, or baby quail stuffed with wild rice and pine-nuts in a port-wine chocolate and orange zest sauce. The intention is what spices the dish, tantalizes the palate and arouses desire! Serve what ever you serve with fire in your eye and a pout promising kisses.
What do you think the most important thing in a relationship is?
There are two, as far as I’m concerned: love and acceptance are indivisible. And don’t underestimate the quality of kindness. Kindness is the sexiest quality.
If you were stranded on a desert island, what five things would you want to have with you?
Chocolate, lipstick, eyeliner, silk stockings, and a bold Knight on a quest...
What’s next for Manuela Cardiga?
I have absolutely no idea! I'm waiting for life to surprise me.
(there is a novel harassing me, but I'm considering a restraining order)
Favourite movie/TV show/food/season?
It's a Wonderful Life; The Piano; Blade Runner; Breaking the Waves; When Harry Met Sally; Black Cat White Cat; Dangerous Liaisons, just about anything directed by Clint Eastwood or starring De Niro.
(I hate De Niro). Sorry, there are just too many.
Game of Thrones
(I dont watch TV. This is an exception)
Are you kidding? Don't ASK things like that!
Summer. Autumn. Winter. Spring.
Who would you give the award to for best first kiss (in a movie)?
The award goes to: COLIN FIRTH! In anything. The man can kiss...
(Did you see what he did in "The Diary of Bridgit Jones"? He MADE that movie)
Sweet or salty?
Both. Separately or together. Also spicy...
I wake up, and this is a dream.
Guilty Pleasures -
The Food and Fornication Fables
can be pre-ordered on
It will be on sale at Amazon.com from the 5th of December as as e-book and Paperback!