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An interview with Dana Hammer, author of comedic horror The Cannibal’s Guide to Fasting

cover of The Cannibal's Guide to Fasting by Dana Hammer

Igor Fenenko, a former research scientist, is a scary, scary man. Not only is he a massive bodybuilder with a spider tattooed on his face, he has also been infected with Pestis Manducans — viral cannibalism. Igor tried to resist indulging, but his research specimens smelled so delicious. Who did it hurt, really, to nibble a corpse?

Caught, disgraced, and sent to a ‘rehabilitation’ center, Igor is now forced to live in a government-mandated Containment Center. He spends his days pressing wildflowers, growing blueberries, and doing his best to avoid human meat. More than anything, he wants a cure for the virus that has ruined his life.

Igor’s brother, Karl, is also infected with Pestis. But unlike Igor, he does not live in a Containment Center. He lives down by the river, where he runs a cannibal rights group. At first, the group seems harmless enough, if a bit creepy and overzealous. But when Igor discovers their evil practices, he is forced to intervene.

Aided and opposed by rich eccentrics who have their own agendas, Igor must use brains and muscles to find a cure while fighting the urge to turn brains and muscles into a delicious lunch.

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Excerpt from The Cannibal’s Guide to Fasting

Igor is a huge, scary looking man. Standing six feet, six inches tall, encased in bulges of muscle, he attracts attention everywhere he goes. Ropey veins snake beneath his taut, tanned skin. A spider web sprawls across the left side of his face, a tattoo choice that has not endeared him to potential employers or dates, and one that he regrets deeply.

He is not the type of man one can ignore. He is also not the type of man who one confronts about breaking the park’s “no picking wildflowers” policy. He carries an old-fashioned woven basket, which is filled with bluebells, daisies, and a few shy violets he managed to find hiding behind a rotten stump. He picks wildflowers regularly. It is zen as fuck.

There was a time, not so long ago, when he would have mocked such a pursuit. There was a time when he turned up his nose at botanists, botany, and plant-based careers in general. He’d thought of them as glorified gardeners, hobbyists puttering away in the dirt. Those days are long gone now.

An Interview with Dana Hammer

-What inspired you to become a writer?

I don’t know that anything inspired me. I’ve always written. It’s just a thing I do, part of who I am.

-If you could visit your book’s world for a day, what one thing would you do?

I would go straight to Esteban Zappa and Doctor Tran’s house and eat chilaquiles.

-It’s two in the morning. What does your protagonist reveal in confidence? (Don’t worry, we won’t tell.)

Igor has a lot of sadness inside him. He would probably reveal something horribly traumatic from his childhood, and I’d hug him forever.

-Which of your characters would you go out for drinks with?

Esteban Zappa, of course. He would take us someplace unusual that has some kind of extremely rare specialty drink, and he’d tell me remarkable stories.

-You’re in a tavern, and a dwarf challenges you to a duel. What do you do?

I need context for this. First of all, is this modern times? Or have I traveled back in time, when duels were common? Also, how have I wronged her? HAVE I wronged her, or is she just drunk and angry? Is this a traditional duel with guns? Or with swords? Or just a regular fist-fight?

If this is modern times, I would just, like, call the police. I’m a grown-ass woman, and bar-room fights are not cute on me. I’m not trying to get arrested over this nonsense.

If it was in the past, when duels were a thing, then I would have other things to consider.

If I’ve wronged her, I would first apologize and try to make it right. But if that was not possible, and a there had to be a reckoning, I would participate.

If it was a traditional, pistols-at-dawn duel, that would be scary, but I know how to shoot, and unless my opponent is an expert sharpshooter, I feel like I would have a decent chance of winning.

If it was a sword fight, I guess I’d die? I have no sword skills whatsoever.

If it was a fist-fight, I would probably do OK…I am only four feet eleven inches tall, so I feel like it would be a pretty fair fight, as long as she doesn’t have any martial arts training.

If I haven’t wronged her though, then I’m not dueling. If she’s just drunk and angry and picking fights for no reason, I would try to enlist her friends to get her under control, or maybe if this tavern has a bouncer, I’d get him to escort her out.

-Is there a genre you could never write? Which and why?

I feel like whenever I say “I would never write that” I wind up writing it within a year. That being said, I don’t think I would be good at writing book club fiction — the kind with wicker furniture on the cover, where a city woman returns to her family’s beach house/island cottage/crumbling mansion, and long-buried secrets are revealed.

So, coming next year: The Beach House of Lies

About Dana Hammer

author Dana Hammer

Dana Hammer is a novelist, screenwriter and playwright. She has won over forty awards and honors for her writing, few of which generated income, all of which were deeply appreciated. She is not a cannibal.


Dana Hammer will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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