Loss, Recovery, Hope… and Cannibalism with Evelyn Esrig

October 21, 2015

Loss Recovery Hope and Cannibalism

Hi! I’m Evelyln Esrig and today I’m releasing my novella Sweetbreads and Sweet Nothings. It’s a strange little book about loss, recovery, hope, … and cannibalism. If you watch NBC’s Hannibal I’m pretty sure my story will seem tame by comparison.

The idea for Sweetbreads and Sweet Nothings came about ages ago, when I rediscovered the Consensual Cannibalism case. The story of a cannibal and his willing prey first cropped up in the news cycle in the early 2000s back when I was in high school. Apparently a two German men named Armin Meiwes and Bernd-Jurgen Brandes met in a cannibal forum and arranged to meet so that Meiwes could butcher and eat Brandes, with Brandes’ full and enthusiastic consent.  Needless to say, my friends and I, geek scifi/horror nerds the lot of us, were obsessed for weeks. But like many teenagers, our attention spans were fleeting and we eventually moved on.

Years later, I had a shiny new creative writing degree and a lot of free time on my hands when the story crossed my path again. It popped up on something like Facebook or Twitter in February 2012. Once again I was enthralled. Consensual cannibalism. How was that possible? The ethical ramifications alone made for some pretty meaty material.

I almost began writing about a cannibal but then I thought “What about the man he ate? What must his family think of this person they thought they knew willingly consenting to be consumed? What must it be like to be that person’s next of kin?” and suddenly I had a whole different story on my hands.  I had a story about someone who lost someone they loved for reasons beyond their understanding and that was a story I wanted to explore more than I wanted to get inside the mind of a killer.

I wanted to be as non-judgmental as possible. I wanted to try and understand. I wanted to understand what would motivate someone to commit the crime of cannibalism, assisted suicide by cannibalism, and what it was like to have someone disappear from your life without a trace. I tried to make it about empathy and rebuilding and recovery. I parked myself at my local Cheesecake Factory listening to My Chemical Romance and The Arctic Monkeys and ate a lot of complimentary bread as I worked.

But what started as a simple story about being left behind evolved from an experiment in fiction for me in the spring of 2012 when someone close to me committed suicide. Needless to say, suddenly I was much deeper in touch with my main character than I had been before. The story became an exercise in acceptance and understanding something that is beyond comprehension – How do we come with the reality that sometimes people choose to leave us in violent and tragic ways? How do we move on? How do we heal? These are the questions that I tried to explore in this story. I don’t know if I accomplished it but I know that when I finished writing it, I certainly felt healed.

Have you ever had an experience like that – where you fell into something that helped you just the way you needed in the least likely way? It’s a beautiful thing and I’d love to hear about it.






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