Where did this very, um, unusual idea come from?
I’d been seeing this woman living alone in the woods in my head for a long, long time. When I lost my job at a magazine, I started to imagine what her life would be like and why she might be there. Then one day I was sitting having a cup of tea, and — no joke — it just popped into my head: She’s eating her husband.
What kind of research did you do?
I went to a hospital in South London and watched several operations taking place with bits being removed from people’s backs and bones being opened up to get a sense of the smell, feel, and look. I looked into cannibalism as well, but I got so depressed reading about colonists and serial killers that I had to put the books away.
What has the response been like in the U.K.?
I was surprised by how many divorced women, gay men, and other minority groups responded — there’s something about overthrowing the patriarchy in here. So many people have said, ”You turned me vegetarian” or ”You got me through my divorce.” Obviously people don’t want to murder their own and eat them, but for those going through really difficult situations, something was released in the reading of this book that brought some comfort. Which I know sounds bizarre.