STAND AND DELIVER! HISTORICAL ROMANCE AUTHOR CRYSSA BAZOS DOES IT WITH OUTSTANDING DEBUT

 

1.

You have a debut novel. How are things going?

 

I have learned that excitement fortunately doesn’t kill you, and it is possible to run on caffeine and adrenaline. I’ve had an amazing first week. I’ve managed to maintain my position on Amazon’s top 100 in my category, and even made a Hot New Release. I’ve also discovered new things about myself, specifically how competitive I am. Traitor’s Knot has been battling The Last Kingdom’s Utred son of Utred for position on the charts. “If it’s reputation you want…” Can you not hear him say that? At one point, he and the heroine on my cover were cozying up too close for my hero’s comfort, and he had a few choice warnings for the Dane. I was not best pleased with my grumbling hero when Utred pulled ahead. I’ve locked him in a water closet for now.

 

Ed. — That’s amazing! Congrats. 😀

 

2.

Tell us how you settled on 17th century England?

 

I’m not sure that I settled on the 17th century England as it settled on me. When I was mulling on what to write (the desire to write something came before what that something would be), I realized that all my favourite reads came from that era (i.e. The King’s General and The Three Musketeers). 17th century England is a time of social and political reform, civil war, advances in science and exploration! The Tudors have nothing on the  Stuarts (IMO) except a cross ginger-haired serial husband. The Stuart men were far better looking, with their dark, wavy hair, larger than life personalities, and their tragic ends. One day, HBO or Netflix will wake up to them.

 

3.

The monarch’s side is not usually favored in film and popular novels (unless it’s NETFLIX’S The Crown). Are you a monarchist generally, or specifically, as in the case of Charles?

 

That’s a good question. I wouldn’t consider myself a monarchist and yet I do find myself on the Royalist side. Here I am, waving an oak sprig. I can’t argue against what Parliament tried to accomplish in rising up against the crown. They had to deal with a stubborn king who believed in absolute monarchy which left no room for the will of Parliament. The moderates were trying to hammer home a constitutional monarchy, which happens to be  the system that we have today in Commonwealth countries. Furthermore, one of the movements that caught fire at this time were the Levellers, who lobbied for the freedom of men. If the war was only about fair representation and democracy, I’d be sporting a rosemary twig in my hat (nod to the Levellers). Unfortunately, as with all revolutionary movements, the fanatical extremists fill the void and redefine the conflict. The result was that the fanatical Independents (Puritans) in the New Model Army, with Oliver Cromwell at their head, purged the moderate elements and forced the King’s trial and execution. Cromwell sets himself up as a de facto king with a weak Parliament and no more rights for the common people.

 

4.

We’re hearing more and more about “blended genres.” Some might say that TRAITOR’S KNOT is a blend. Care to comment?

 

I do believe that Traitor’s Knot is a blending of the historical fiction genre with the romance genre in a way that the description ‘historical romance’ doesn’t entirely fit. The heart of the historical fiction genre is incorporating historical details to build a world that a reader can become immersed in. The history forms the spine of the story and propels the characters (historical or fictional) through the events. Historical romance is similar to historical fiction in that the best of the genre is well-researched and conveys a sense of place and time. But here, the romance drives the story, not the history. As a result, most historical romances are played out in the charm of a drawing room or a ballroom.

 

Traitor’s Knot puts the historical events front and centre with a central love story. Instead of allowing them to remain in the safety of a drawing room, I’ve thrown my lovers into the middle of a civil war. Their reputations are less at stake than their lives. They don’t spend the book wondering if they should or shouldn’t; James and Elizabeth instead fear that they will never see each other again. I would consider Traitor’s Knot a darker historical romance.

 

5.

Strong female characters are ‘most wanted’ these days. Gal Gadot’s Wonder WomanVikings’ Lagertha, and House of Cards’often villainous Claire Underhill. How would you classify your character Elizabeth Seton? Do you favor her over her beloved James Hart?

 

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I don’t have a favoured child, mostly. 🙂 I believe there is a strength to a woman that is not defined by her ability to run off and be badass. It comes through in the choices that she has to make and the steel in her spine when faced by those who want to take her down. In historical fiction you need to capture the sensibility of the age so it wouldn’t be credible to have sent my 17th century heroine off on a rampage. But she found other ways to show her strength, through her resistance against a hypocritical regime, protecting the weak, and defending those she loved. Not as badass as James racing along the highway, but both characters bring different strengths to the fight as well as compliment the other.

 

6.

Interesting. But how would they do in a modern context? How would they cope in our time?

 

James would be a football captain (British for soccer), and he’d give David Beckham a run for his money. James is a natural leader and inspires his men to pull together and never give up, no matter how deeply behind they are. Besides, he’d look great with his stubbly beard and shoulder length hair while rocking a red and white jersey. But he’d be pretty oblivious over his effect on his groupies.

 

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Without question, Elizabeth would be doctor. Probably an emergency physician. You can’t take the herbalist out of the girl no matter how many centuries pass. She always considered healing people to be her greatest calling, and she fought so hard for the right to practice her art. I can see her in a white lab coat and blue scrubs. Her dark hair would be tied back in a pony tail, and she’d be practically attached to her clipboard. Come to think of it, she’d probably be the attending physician when James is brought in over a pulled tendon.

 

7.

What are you working on now?

 

I’m working on the second book of the series, the Severed Knot. It touches on the fate of the Battle of Worcester prisoners, many who were shipped to the colonies as indentured servants. This story will focus on one of the characters from Traitor’s Knot who is captured and shipped down to Barbados. I’m not telling who though. I’m very excited about this as this is a part of history that hasn’t received very much attention.

 

8.

Have I forgotten anything?

 

If you enjoy being immersed in the past and are looking for a love story combined with action/adventure, then you’ll Traitor’s Knot should be your next read. Check it out on Goodreads and Amazon. And don’t forget to leave a review!

Ed. — Thanks, Cryssa. Let’s take a closer look at TRAITOR’S KNOT.

 

 

TRAITOR’S KNOT

Traitors Knot CoverEngland 1650: Civil War has given way to an uneasy peace in the year since Parliament executed King Charles I.

Royalist officer James Hart refuses to accept the tyranny of the new government, and to raise funds for the restoration of the king’s son, he takes to the road as a highwayman.

Elizabeth Seton has long been shunned for being a traitor’s daughter. In the midst of the new order, she risks her life by sheltering fugitives from Parliament in a garrison town. But her attempts to rebuild her life are threatened, first by her own sense of injustice, then by falling in love with the dashing Hart.

The lovers’ loyalty is tested through war, defeat and separation. James must fight his way back to the woman he loves, while Elizabeth will do anything to save him, even if it means sacrificing herself.

Traitor’s Knot is a sweeping tale of love and conflicted loyalties set against the turmoil of the English Civil War.

 

 

Praise for Traitor’s Knot

 

“A hugely satisfying read that will appeal to historical fiction fans who demand authenticity, and who enjoy a combination of suspense, action, and a very believable love story. Five stars.”

– Elizabeth St. John, bestselling author of The Lady of the Tower

 

“A thrilling historical adventure expertly told.”

– Carol McGrath, bestselling author of The Handfasted Wife

“Cryssa Bazos is equally at home writing battle scenes as writing romance, and the pace keeps the reader turning the pages.”

– Deborah Swift, bestselling author of The Gilded Lily.

 

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Excerpt

From nowhere, a racing black horse flashed past her window, the rider passing close to the carriage. Startled, Elizabeth craned her head, wondering at his reckless pace. Without warning, the coach veered off the road and pulled up, throwing her onto the floor. The others shrieked and braced themselves. They heard panicked shouts from the driver and the deep, jarring voice from another.

“Stand and deliver!”

Elizabeth heard the measured clopping of a single horse drawing close and the nervous shifting of their team. She crept to regain her seat. Mistress Pritchett shook with terror, and Elizabeth reached out her hand to reassure her.

“One inch more and your brains will lie in a pool at your feet.” They heard the click of a cocked pistol.

Elizabeth froze, fearful that he spoke to her. But with his next words, she knew that he still dealt with their driver.

“Toss your musket over the side.”

“You’ll have no trouble.” The driver’s voice cracked, and the carriage swayed and creaked as he scrambled down from the top seat.

“Everyone out!”

Elizabeth followed the Pritchetts, nearly stumbling on her skirts. Her foot found the first step and froze. A pair of pistols trained upon her, unwavering and baleful. Slate-grey eyes burned with equal intensity above a black scarf. Although every instinct screamed retreat, Elizabeth descended the coach.

The highwayman rode a large black horse with a white blaze on its forehead. He commanded the powerful animal by his slightest touch, moving like one, rider and horse, fluid and instinctive. The highwayman wore all black from his heavy cloak to his mud-splattered boots.

“Richard Crawford-Bowes.” The highwayman’s voice cut through the stunned silence. “Step forward. I would fain make your acquaintance.”

Sir Richard did not twitch.

Provoked by the absence of a response, he pointed his pistol at Sir Richard’s stubborn head. “Mark this well—I never repeat myself.”

“I am he,” he said and stepped forward.

The highwayman circled Sir Richard with the imposing horse. “This is a unique pleasure, my lord. Are you beating the countryside looking for desperate souls to fill your court, or have you reached your quota?”

“Now listen here,” Sir Richard sputtered. “If you persist in this venture, I vow to bring you before the assizes and see you hang!”

The highwayman shrugged. “You deserve nothing more than to share the same fate as the honest men you rob in the name of your Commonwealth. Strange idea that— common wealth. As though the wealth stolen from the King would ever be given to the common man. Deliver your coin or die.”

Sir Richard’s brow darkened. From his pocket, he withdrew a handful of shillings.

A shot fired. Elizabeth jumped and smothered a scream, pressing her hand to her mouth. Shouts and shrieks erupted from the people around her. The highwayman lowered his smoking pistol. Sir Richard remained standing, a foot back from where he had been and pale as chalk.

“My patience is nearing an end,” the brigand said, levelling his other pistol. He tucked the spent one in his belt and replaced it with a primed carbine. “A few pieces of silver. I’m sure you have more than thirty.”

Colour returned to Sir Richard, and his thin mouth pressed into a resentful line. “You will regret this.” He drew a larger pouch from his cloak and took a step forward, but the rogue’s next words stopped him.

“Take one more step and it will be your last. I care little for the honour of judges and trust their intent even less. Hand the purse to someone else.” His flinty gaze passed over the huddled couple and singled out Elizabeth. “Come forward, mistress. You’re neither fainting nor quivering.”

Startled, she considered pleading to be left alone but smothered the impulse. She would not show fear to this villain. Taking a deep breath, Elizabeth walked towards Sir Richard. A sheen of sweat beaded his forehead, and his Adam’s apple bobbed in this throat. She held out her hand and tried to keep it from trembling. Her nape prickled as if the pistol pressed against her skin. Sir Richard clutched the purse, glaring at her as though she was the villain.

“Your purse, my lord,” she whispered. “Please.”

Sir Richard hesitated for another moment before shoving it into her hands.

Greedy wretch. Elizabeth’s annoyance with Sir Richard gave her the courage to walk up to the brigand. With every step, her determination grew. She would be quite happy to hand over Sir Richard’s money.

The rogue motioned her to give him the pouch, and when she dropped it into his outstretched hand, she met his direct gaze. Elizabeth expected to see the cold eyes of a ruthless madman, but to her surprise, she did not. There was a hardness in those grey depths, but also a keen, calculating intelligence that heightened her curiosity. He stared back at her boldly, and she could not look away.

“My thanks.” His tone was an unmistakable dismissal.

Elizabeth stood puzzled. Old Nick’s small purse rested under her cloak, the sum of everything she owned. She would have been sick over parting with it but wondered why the highwayman had made no demands on her or the others.

“Was there anything more, mistress?”

She was about to shake her head and back away, but the muffled weeping behind her ended thoughts of retreat. Having reached the end of her endurance, Mistress Pritchett began to cry, soft at first and then with more violence. She would have collapsed to the ground had her husband not supported her. Elizabeth grew outraged for the hysterical woman. The audacity of the scoundrel, with all that he dared, awakened her. “Pray, what is your name, sir, so that we may know the coward who threatens us behind a scarf?”

The highwayman’s eyes narrowed. The silence unnerved Elizabeth. Beneath him, the great black shifted. “Who are you?”

“Elizabeth Seton, late of Weymouth.”

“So, Mistress Seton from Weymouth dares where others fear to tread.”

“Your words suggest you were once a King’s man,” she said, ignoring her better judgment.

“Aye, proudly so.”

“Your manner disclaims it. The Royalist soldiers I knew did not hide behind scarfs.” His expression darkened. “Times have changed,” he said in a rough voice. Instead of firing his pistol, he urged his horse closer. Its shadow cast over her. “Your people fought against these rebels?”

Elizabeth’s stomach gave a sick lurch as she realised her blunder. She prayed that Sir Richard didn’t mark the significance of her words. Being caught between a highwayman and a Roundhead justice, she should have had the wits to mind her tongue. Elizabeth’s eyes darted to Sir Richard—his entire attention seemed to be focused on the purse in the brigand’s hand.

The highwayman waited for her response, and when none came, it seemed to Elizabeth that he smiled behind his scarf. He leant forward as though they were the only two on the road. “’Tis a shame that we had not more with your bravery. We may have yet won the war.”

With a curt nod, he spurred his horse and disappeared down the road. Elizabeth released her breath in a rush, and her limbs dissolved into unset jelly.

 

 

About the Author

 

fullsizeoutput_d9Cryssa Bazos is an award winning historical fiction writer and 17th century enthusiast with a particular interest in the English Civil War. Her debut novel, Traitor’s Knot, is published by Endeavour Press and placed 3rd in 2016 Romance for the Ages (Ancient/Medieval/Renaissance). For more stories, visit her blog cryssabazos.com.

 

 

 

 

Links

 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cbazos/

Twitter: @CryssaBazos

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cryssabazos/

Traitor’s Knot is available through Amazon.  http://mybook.to/TraitorsKnot

 

 

HOPE THOMPSON ON HER DEBUT NOVEL & THE NOIR THAT DRIVES HER

Don’t you just love those moments when you hear written work read aloud by the authors themselves and everything just clicks? It happened to me not long ago at Noir at the Bar–Toronto, where a funky group of criminally-minded writers and readers gathered over snacks and drinkies to hear the latest from artists north and south of the border.

Imagine my joy at finding a Toronto-based novelist, filmmaker and playwright–that’s P-L-A-Y-W-R-I-G-H-T–at a nearby table prepping a selection from her debut novel. Poised, polished, personable, Hope Thompson calmed my fear of performing for the first time in front of this august group and then went on to WOW! me with HER words…

…and her resume.

This woman’s done a lot.

And she’s super cool too.

HELLO, Hope!

 

 

1.

I have the greatest respect for live performance. As a playwright, do you physically walk-through your scenes as you compose, or do you leave that to the actors to work out?

 

Yes, there is nothing like a live performance, which is one of the reasons I love working 5_Stiff1.jpgin theatre so much. To answer your question, I don’t so much “walk through” the scenes as “talk through” them—and that makes it a bit awkward to write in public because I need to say the lines out loud and in the voice of the character—and with all their gestures. My strategy is that if I can act out the scene and it feels right to me then it hopefully will work for the actors, too.

 

2.

You have written a number of plays, eight of which have been produced for the stage. To what extent were you a part of the collaborative effort? Care to share an anecdote?

 

1_lovecrimes-21.jpgIn a lot of my theatrical experience, I’ve been producing as well as writing, and because of that, I’ve been a part of everything—from casting, to hiring crew, running props around—even onstage in the darkness helping with the set pieces between scenes. But yes, I like to be as much a part of the production as possible. Some playwrights do not attend rehearsals but I like to be there to watch the play come alive, to follow the director’s work with the actors and to talk out issues that arise, changes to the text, etc., that come up during rehearsal. In my last production in Toronto, I got sick and couldn’t attend any more than the first few rehearsals. I had the feeling the cast and director were actually happier without me there; they could make their own line changes. But if I’m allowed to be, I like to be a part of the entire process. Hearing your own words come alive on stage is such a rare and thrilling experience that I don’t like to miss anything. I even attend every performance.

 

3.

For Torontonians, it is virtually impossible not to know about Buddies in Bad Times. For our international readers, can you describe the theatre, its history, and successes?

 

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Sure! Buddies in Bad Times Theatre is North America’s—and quite possibly the world’s—oldest and largest queer theatre. Sky Gilbert was one of the founders back in 1978 and in the role of Artistic Director, he was the driving force behind the theatre for its first 18 years. In terms of successes, so many of Canada’s greatest theatrical talents have gotten their start there—from Ann Marie MacDonald, Gavin Crawford, Diane Flacks to Daniel MacIvor, Kawa Ada and Brad Fraser, just to name a few. Buddies is also home to the Rhubarb Festival of New Work, which was where my first play, GREEN, was produced. And by the way, “rhubarb”, refers to the word actors say, silently, when they are on stage but in the background—and pretending to have a conversation.

 

4.

And you write for the screen too. Was this an organic segue from live performance?

 

It was actually the other way around. I started writing short film scripts and directing and producing them. When I was living in Pittsburgh for a few years, I wrote a short film script and sent it to a friend in Toronto to get her thoughts on it. She decided it would make a better play than film as all the action took place in one room. This was GREEN – a parlour room comedy with a criminal twist. She was also working at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre and suggested I enter the script into the Rhubarb festival. A few months later, the play was produced. That was back in 2004. I loved the experience and my writing career took a turn towards theatre from that point forward.

 

5.

You’ve lived and worked in a few of places. What stokes your creative drive? Is it physical space?

 

In terms of physical space, I write mostly in libraries and at the Toronto Writers Centre. It can be hard to carve out time to work but I have a pretty good schedule right now. Once I am in the chair and writing I can get lost in it. And that’s when the creative drive is really firing. Another thing to stoke it is deadlines. They really help!

 

6.

Playwrite? Or playwright? I must know.

 

I believe it’s playwright, and that’s the spelling I prefer. It feels essential and hardworking, like millwright.

Ed. – Makes sense to me! 😀

 

7.

Tell me about The Blonde, your queer noir WIP?

 

6 reliant.pngThe Blonde is a queer crime story set in 1984 Toronto and it introduces lesbian private detective, Sidney Lake. This is her first murder case and the victim is a beautiful blonde who Sid just happens to be in love with. In this novel I am trying to invoke both a Chandleresque and pulpy noir quality to the story.

 

8.

Do blondes get killed more than brunettes? Why / Why not?

 

Well, they have more fun. Maybe there’s a price? There’s something very retro about calling someone a “blonde” and I wanted Lake, my heroine, to be able to do that, hence the pulpy feel.

Ed. – I think I’ll leave the peroxide bottle in the cupboard. lol.

 

9.

Your noir inspirations go way back to the ‘40s and ‘50s. Can you describe these for our readers and explain how you make them fresh for the time we live in.

 

I would define noir as urban despair. The main character is often on a lonely journey 2_stills-24_PhotoCredit_D-Haweand struggling against forces that seem fated against him or her. Noir stories are usually set at night and include long shadows that metaphorically function like the fingers of fate reaching for the hero, or bars of shadow cast by a venetian blind that suggest the bars of a prison, trapping the hero. Another key ingredient is a femme fatale character—a woman that the male hero is drawn to but who will ultimately cause his demise. Some classic noir films are Double Indemnity, The Big Sleep and even Blade Runner. Cornell Woolrich is one of my favourite writers. I’m a little obsessed with him and am writing a feature theatrical script based on a night in his life. He is considered the father of noir.

 

10.

Have I forgotten anything?

 

The Blonde will be published… soon! Please check back to www.hopethompson.net for details. I’ll have details about the Woolrich play’s development there as well. Thanks!

Thanks so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to us, Hope. Good luck with the book and the new play. Visit again, soon!

— AB

 

About the Author

 

Hope is a Canadian playwright, filmmaker and crime writer. She is obsessed with mystery, film noir, camp and comedy and has written and directed several award-winning short films (It Happened In The Stacks, Switch) and one-act plays (She Walks The Line, Stiff, Trapped!)  in these genres. Her film, Switch, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and her recent play, Trapped! is being published this year in a Playwrights Canada Press anthology. Hope is currently at work on her first novel, The Blonde and a new theatre project. www.hopethompson.net

 

Links

 

WEB: http://www.hopethompson.net/

TWITTER: @HopeThompson70

BUDDIES http://buddiesinbadtimes.com/

TEN AUTHORS, TEN DAYS: DAY TWO: MAIGHREAD MACKAY BLASTS OFF WITH HER SOLSTICE DEBUT!

Today is a HUGE day for author Maighread MacKay: 5-4-3-2-1

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That’s right! It’s LAUNCH DAY for her adult-themed paranormal novel STONE COTTAGE, and she has chosen this blog to be among the first to tell EVERYBODY.

This author/blogger is honored. Not only do we share the same publisher (Solstice) but we also share a penchant for book trailer making. (That’s another story.)

Today is your day Maighread. Let’s jump in with STONE COTTAGE followed by a tasty interview (keep reading)…

 

book coverVictoria Anne McBride is dead, mourned and buried. Unfortunately, she doesn’t see it that way and refuses to move on. There’s something she needs to tell her husband, Will. Until she does, she will wait for his return to their home, Stone Cottage. For as long as it takes, she will wait…wait…wait.

Rebecca Wainwright is a 21st century woman. Her world is perfectly controlled. Just the way she likes it. Tragedy strikes and she descends into chaos. Trying to heal, she searches for a sanctuary…a place of her own, away from the burdensome concern of her family and best friend. A place where she can lick her wounds without anyone watching. She stumbles across a lovely stone home located off the beaten path and feels completely at home, as if she’d been there before. Why is she so drawn to this place? How can it help her to heal?

Perhaps, Annie can help.

 

Q & A

 

  1. Maighread, Stone Cottage has so many things going for it: paranormal, romance, and a journey of self discovery to name a few. How would you classify this work?

I often ponder the meaning of life and had read a book Your Soul’s Plan by Robert Schwartz that presents a different paradigm from what I had been taught to believe. Wondering how his concepts would play out in everyday life, I wrote Stone Cottage. I am hoping that the readers will love the story as much as I do, but I’m also hoping that maybe it will also cause some of them to go ‘hmmm-never thought of life that way’. That said, I would classify the story as one soul’s journey to discover meaning in her life, while being presented with paranormal concepts that challenge her firmly held concepts. There is tragedy, but also hope. It does have a ‘happily ever after’ ending, along the lines of Ghost Whisperer.

 

  1. You’ve published three children’s books already. What made you switch to adult fiction?

Actually, I’ve always written adult fiction and non-fiction. The children’s books were written for my grandchildren as their legacy from me. I wanted my descendants to know who I was through my writing.

 

  1. Your love of the past (history) is apparent. That you weave it seamlessly into a contemporary parallel plot is a testament to your skill. To which time frame did you identify most as you were crafting Stone Cottage?

Ah, yes, I do love history. I love Regency romances, historical fiction, and I am the genealogist in my family. I really did identify with the Victorian era when I wrote the book. I love all of our modern conveniences, but sometimes they are very intrusive. Also, I am the youngest in my family and my Father was the youngest in his family, so a lot of my relatives were born in the Victorian era and I grew up under their influence and am comfortable with the language and customs of that time period.

 

  1. Without introducing spoilers, I’ll suggest that one of the characters starts out in a not entirely sympathetic vein. Was this done on purpose, or did she merely lead the way?

Yes, it was done on purpose. I am hoping that readers will learn that sometimes people we meet have a reason for the way they react to things. The old adage of ‘be careful how you treat people. Everyone carries a burden that you may know nothing about’ applies here. It doesn’t excuse the behaviour but it can explain it and bring understanding instead of judgement.

 

  1. Plotter or pantser?

A combination of both. Probably more of a panster. I have the main plot in my head, and think about it all the time. The characters live with me while I’m writing and they are always showing me new aspects of themselves that end up changing the parts of the plot.

 

  1. I’m so happy to be spotlighting you on today of all days: book launch day! Where can we buy your book?

It can be purchased through Amazon.com and Amazon.ca., through my publisher Solstice Publishing, and through myself.

 

  1. Whet our appetites: What is your elevator pitch?

Victoria Anne McBride is dead, mourned and buried. Unfortunately, she doesn’t see it that way and refuses to move on. There’s something she needs to tell her husband, Will. Until she does, she will wait for his return to their home, Stone Cottage. She’s been waiting a long time.

Rebecca Wainwright is a 21st century woman. Her world is perfectly controlled. Just the way she likes it. Tragedy strikes and she descends into chaos. Trying to heal, she searches for a sanctuary…a place of her own, away from the burdensome concern of her family and best friend. A place where she can lick her wounds without anyone watching. She stumbles across a lovely stone home located off the beaten path and feels completely at home, as if she’d been there before. Why is she so drawn to this place? How can it help her to heal?

It’s a story of second chances. How our lives intertwine like the weave of a tapestry to help us grow and become the people we are. It presents a different way of looking at life that will be new to some readers.

 

  1. What’s next?

I continue to write short stories, poems and such. My big work in progress is another novel with the working title – Friday: Dinner at Mother’s. I’m just at the very beginning stages of it, so I’m not sure where it wants to take me, although I can tell you that it deals with family dynamics and murder. I’m also doing a Twitter chat with Mel Massey of Solstice Publishing at 6 pm EDT on Monday, the 14th and I’m so excited about that! But there’s more: author Marie Lavender is interviewing Victoria Anne on her blog on September 11th.

Ed. — More details on these events later today!

 

  1. A lot of writers find promotions daunting. What will you be doing in the next few months to get the word out on Stone Cottage?

Yes, promotion can be very daunting. I will be doing more blogs, putting the word out on FB and Twitter, plus I have a book signing on October 11th at our local Chapters store in Oshawa and will be at Bookapalooza in November at Durham College.

 

  1. I’m not letting you go without a word on Chicken Soup for the Soul. You have a story in the next one. Deets, please.

Some of you may not know that I’m extremely fortunate to be married to the guy in the red suit that visits at Christmas. Yup, Santa! When I heard that Chicken Soup for the Soul was looking for stories regarding Christmas, I decided to submit a manuscript entitled “Being Santa” for the 2015 Christmas edition. It gives you a small glimpse of what it’s like to be Santa at other times of the year. I was fortunate that they loved the story and it will be coming out in the Chicken Soup for the Soul: Merry Christmas 2015 edition. The book will be available on October 20th. That will be so much fun. I’m really looking forward to it.

 

Thank you Maighread for the share. Here’s what we can all look forward to in STONE COTTAGE:

 

ExcerptIn the aftermath of the blinding flash, the darkness shimmered like liquid ebony. The wind ripped the leaves from the trees and tossed them aside. The rain slashed the windows of the isolated aged stone house.

Inside the dwelling, all was silent except for the ticking of the longcase clock in the foyer. The parlour to the right of the front door held a sofa placed in the centre of the room facing a large fireplace made of fieldstone. Two tall windows looked onto the lawn at the front of the house. Comfortable chairs flanked the fireside. A small table holding a glass lamp was located beside one of the chairs. A handmade throw rug covered the highly polished wooden floor in front of the hearth. An old dog lay asleep on the mat. With the shelves filled with books, the soft glow of the fire and gas lamp, and the comfortable chairs, the parlour had been warm and cozy in the gloomy night.

Victoria Anne McBride, the solitary human occupant of the room was curled up in one of the chairs, a blanket covering her and a book on her lap.

A sonic boom of thunder shook the house and ricocheted around the room breaking the spell of silence. Startled, she surged from the chair, the eiderdown and tome cascading to the floor. She had been feeling warm and drowsy under the quilt but now realized there was nothing but cold ash left in the fireplace. The gas lamp on the table had burned out and the room was freezing. How long had she been there? She listened as the rain scratched the window glass like the long nails of a ghostly hand pleading to be let in out of the cold. Bringing her awareness back to the moment, she tried to remember why she was here in the parlour.

 

LINKS AND BUY INFO:

 

Buy:

Amazon.com http://amzn.com/B01452HED4

Amazon.ca http://www.amazon.ca/dp/B01452HED4

Solstice Publishing:  http://solsticepublishing.com/stone-cottage/

 

Link:

Website: mhefferman.ca

FB: facebook.com/maighreadmackay

Twitter: @maighreadmackay

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsDj938kUzM

 

TOMORROW:

A mystery? Find out at BLOG FUNKHAUSER *Adult, Unapologetic and Cognizant*

 

 

THE INTERVIEW IS THE THING

The Authors AB FunkhauserLast month, I had the privilege of answering interview questions for Eclipse Reviews, a cool blogspot for paranormal, romance, sci fi and fantasy writers. Still early into the blog tour, I didn’t know what to expect and so it was refreshing to field questions about my background not just in writing but in the workplace. When I put everything side by side — looked at all the things I have done and muse on the things I’ve yet to do — I found myself saying: “Well done” and “No wonder you’re always tired.” Lol. It’s a good kind of tired. Here’s the interview:

Eclipse interview

Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?

Writing never crossed my mind even though the bulk of my early work years focused on correspondence, press releases and even speech writing. (laughs) I guess I was prepping for this and didn’t know it. When I was young, I wanted to marry Prince Andrew, command armies or become the Prime Minister of Canada. After graduating school, I took my place behind a reception desk—the first of many.

When did you first consider yourself a “writer”?

When I gave my first reading at an open mic nite. It was in a bar and the audience was full of authors, many already published. When they laughed at the right moments and for the right reasons, that told me that I was on to something. That’s when I felt ‘real.’

How long did it take to get your first book published?

Not long. Fate kinda intervened. I had four manuscripts under my belt and that’s when a friend put me on to #pitmad on Twitter. I got hits right away, and through these initial contacts I was compelled to hone my synopsis, elevator pitch and query letter. By the third pitch party, I had over thirty tags and log lines. Solstice Publishing found me soon after.

Do you do another job except for writing and can you tell us more about it?

I’m a licensed funeral director which means I arrange and take out funerals. I’m an embalmer as well. Two years ago, with the support of my family, I took a break from full-time work to concentrate on my writing. That really paid off. I maintain my license and am on call.

What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarize it in less than 20 words what would you say?

HEUER LOST AND FOUND is my debut and is the first in a six volume series. The elevator pitch is as follows: Dead cooze hound lawyer trapped in a funeral parlor relies on boozy undertaker and wise cracking spirit guide to set him free.

Who is your publisher? Or do you self-publish?

I’m with Summer Solstice, a division of Solstice Publishing out of Farmington, Missouri.

How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?

The first book took thirty years. That is to say it’s the sum total of life experience and a ton of observations. The writing, learning, editing, honing took five years and is on going. For the subsequent three manuscripts, it took about a year for each of them to get to a cogent first draft. I really have my groove on, you might say.

What can we expect from you in the future?  ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?

 The Heuer Effect Teaser AdMy tastes range from campy to philosophical to romantic to paranormal. I also have a taste for classic cars so it’s not unusual to find a car character or two in my work, and it’s amazing how technical jargon can be adapted to comedy. My next three years will be devoted to readying the following three manuscripts in the series: SCOOTER NATION, THE HEUER EFFECT, and POOR UNDERTAKER. Each on its own is meritoriously direct in conveying a number of my favorite themes all within the framework of the funeral parlor, which NEW SCOOTER COVERchanges hands as the decades pass and in one instance, actually becomes a Euro style resto bar and grille. The cool thing for me as the writer is that there’s some overlapping which I really love. A character that dies at the end of book three is born on page two of book four. For that, I have Quentin Tarantino to thank: PULP FICTION taught me that I don’t have to stay linear.

Poor Undertaker Advert reduced

What genre would you place your books into?

I describe them as adult, paranormal, contemporary fiction with a hint of gonzo. Amazon has placed HEUER under Occult, Horror and Humorous Fiction which also works.

What made you decide to write that genre of book?

I like to blame it on the characters, but in truth, I think the comedic elements were a response to a need to give the reader a break from some of the tougher scenes. The protagonists coming to grips with their life situations, I’m told, could be quite visceral and I must have felt that while I was writing it. Death and mourning are serious subjects, but I didn’t want the story to weigh the reader down with every chapter. There had to be a lightness to it to let the reader know that something was going to give.

Do you have a favorite character from your books? And why are they your favorite?

I love them all, but my villains seem to demand the bulk of my attention. One, for example, got her own book because the beta readers insisted on it. Why is she this way? What happened to her to make her such? It was amazing the through this exploration, she went from a cartoon to a flesh and blood human being capable of commanding sympathy and understanding.

How long have you been writing?, and who or what inspired you to write?

I’ve been writing fiction for a little over five years now and I have to give the credit for inspiration to trial and error and having the courage to put a foot out the door every day. I’ve failed at many things, but I’ve had a few successes too. The best way to make sense of it was to put it into words and have those words spoken through the mouths of fictional characters. I’m grateful to them for that!

Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? ie You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?

I can work practically anywhere, but what I do is dictated by the time of year. Since breaking from full time work, I treat writing like a day job. I have two teenagers, so once they’re out the door in the morning, I’m at my desk. A work day runs from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. with breaks (dentist appointments, cutting the grass) Monday to Friday. Whether I’m blogging, tweeting, editing, promoting myself or others, I’m always writing. Summer months and NaNoWriMo are dedicated to NEW projects.

Do you read all the reviews of your book/books?

Absolutely.

Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?

Title comes first. It usually appears during edits on the previous work. Next come pop scenes and a lot of mulling before I lay down the first draft during NaNo.

How do you come up with characters names and place names in your books?

I apply the theory of good band names: take two unrelated things and put them together; or I’ll grab from a character trait. For example, a character who reads classical literature is bound to wind up with a name from that historical era – Jocasta, Socrates, Hephaestion are good ones.

Are character names and place names decided after their creation? Or do you pick a character/place name and then invent them?

After. They name themselves.

Do you decide on character traits (ie shy, quiet, tomboy girl) before writing the whole book or as you go along?

As I go along. They evolve, just as we do as flesh and blood human beings.

Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in your books? (Morals as in like Aesops Fables type of “The moral of this story is..”)

Absolutely. There’s a point to everything.

Which format of book do you prefer, eBook, hardback, or paperback?

No preference. A book’s a book.

What is your favorite book and Why?  Have you read it more than once?

God Bless You Mr. Rosewater by Kurt Vonnegut. I never laughed so hard at irony in my whole life.

Do you think books transfer to movies well? Which is you favorite/worst book to movie transfer?

It depends on the director, casting, and SCRIPT. I thought The English Patient was an absolute marvel.

Your favorite food is?

Peaches.

EttaYour favorite singer/group is?

Etta James.

Your favorite color is?

Orange.

Your favorite Author is?

John Updike.

Once again thank you for the interview.

Jeanine, Eclipse Reviews

And thank you Jeanine. Check out Eclipse Reviews at www.totaleclipsereviews.blogspot.com

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THE FUNKHAUSER ROADSHOW CONTINUES WITH A SPOTLIGHT AND GIVEAWAY AT LITERARY MUSINGS http://literarymusings.weebly.com

reading my own book blog tour

My Links:

My Blog: www.abfunkhauser.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/iamfunkhauser

Facebook: www.facebook.com/heuerlostandfound

Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.com/author/abfunkhauser

See the first trailer featuring some sweet jazz:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3beUBWf2CQ

Definitely see the second trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-C5qBpb0Yc

Interview Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2yhaXfh-ns

Interview Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoPthI1Hvmo

Where I talk funeral parloring, Six Feet Under and the art of gonzo.

Get a taste: The excerpt: https://abfunkhauser.com/2015/03/25/heuer-lost-and-found-the-excerpt/

Buy Link (United States)

Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.com/Heuer-Lost-Found-B-Funkhauser-ebook/dp/B00V6KLAMA/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1427367625&sr=1-1&keywords=heuer+lost+and+found

Buy Link International (Location specific Amazons)

Book Goodies: http://bookgoodies.com/a/B00V6KLAMA

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25232328-heuer-lost-and-found?from_search=true

Direct buy presale link (United States): http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=ntt_athr_dp_sr_1?_encoding=UTF8&field-author=A.B.%20Funkhauser&search-alias=digital-text&sort=relevancerank

http://bewitchingbooktours.blogspot.ca/p/about.html

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25232328-heuer-lost-and-found?from_search=true

www.solsticepublishing.com

Tags:

#contemporary #paranormal #adult #mortuary #fiction with a hint of #gonzo #HEUER LOST AND FOUND #amazon #kindle

THE FUNKHAUSER ROADSHOW BEGINNING APRIL 20

Hello all.

In support of HEUER LOST AND FOUND releasing on April 23 on all Amazons, Bookgoodies, Solstice Publishing and wherever else Createspace is sending it, I will be popping in on fellow authors through to May 18 (with weekends off—I need my beauty sleep!) Here’s the roster for week one. Feel free to stop by.

Monday, April 20

Interview and Review with Shyla Wolff, Shyla Wolff’s Thoughs

http://shylawolff.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, April 21 Guest Post with Rachael Stapleton, The Mysterious Ink Spot

http://rachaelstapleton.blogspot.ca/

Wednesday, April 22, Spotlight with Saph’s Book Blog

http://saphsbookblog.blogspot.com/

Thursday, April 23, Guest Post with Mythical Books

http://mythicalbooks.blogspot.ro/

Friday, April 24, Interview with Eclipse Reviews

www.totaleclipsereviews.blogspot.com

Sponsored by Bewitching Book Tours. My gratitude to Roxanne Rhodes as I begin this amazing journey.

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Covering off the home desk www.abfunkhauser.com while I’m away are some amazing guest authors who will be answering a Proustian questionnaire of my own design as well as showcasing their latest projects, blogs, interviews and more. Check them out. First up, John DeBoer, author, medical doctor and duffer (that’s golfer for those of you not in the know). Welcome, John.

Biography: John DeBoer

John's author photo

After graduating from the University of Vermont College of Medicine, John L. DeBoer, M.D., F.A.C.S. completed a surgical residency in the U.S. Army and then spent three years in the Medical Corps as a general surgeon. Thirty years of private practice later, he retired to begin a new career as a writer.

When not creating new plot lines for his novels, Dr. DeBoer pursues his interests in cooking, films and film history,  politics, and the amazing cosmos.  Though he’s an avid tennis player, his yet-to-be-fulfilled goal is to achieve a level of mediocrity in the frustrating game of golf.

The father of two grown sons, he lives with his wife in North Carolina.

Get more John DeBoer this coming Monday, April 20 http://www.abfunkhauser.com

VICTORY LAP? FIRST REVIEWS ARE IN

There’s that old saying that one must never put the Lord Robertcart before the horse, so what if I just leave the cart at home and carry on? First reviews for HEUER LOST AND FOUND are in and so far, THEY’RE GOOD. So I think I will leave the cart at home and have a once around. As Lord Grantham would say: “Steady On”.

FIVE STARS
Heuer Lost and Found - PrintEvery now and again you come across a treat and this book was as good as chocolate, mostly because of its originality. It takes a serious premise and gives it a light touch. The author is a word technician. The unusual catalyst? We have a man who dies but is still extremely vocal and active. But if his experiences beyond the Grim Reaper are typical, then I advise you, new readers, to stay in this life – or find some parallel universe.The writing style is racy with no words wasted. Early example: “May had given over to June with its outdoor patios and brain blasting surround sound systems—zesty realities that didn’t always mesh with work.” Midway example: “A tall lamp of ancient origin flickered in a large room ahead of him. Piled high with boxes and debris—a compendium of past lives—the space reminded him of a place he’d just come from and was not anxious to see again.” Late example: “Heuer looked at his smooth hands—a musician’s hands—with their perfectly tapered fingers filled with music that went unplayed. Peace? There was no peace to be made with Werner.”
It’s all tidily edited and I didn’t keep tripping over typos.
The characters are painted clearly right from the start, not in laborious detail, but in the little hints and the ways in which they do things.
A lot of care, background knowledge and zest with the pen has gone into this book.
—David K. Bryant, Author, Tread Carefully on the Sea
FIVE STARS
This beautifully written, quirky, sad, but also often humorous story of Heuer and Enid – one living and the other a spirit stuck between this world and the next – gives us a glimpse into the fascinating, closed world of the funeral director. Years after their relationship ended, the past catches up to both of them in the most unlikely place – the funeral home. Fresh writing filled with rich vocabulary, this story features a vivid cast of colourful, living-breathing characters. This one will keep you reading late into the night until the final page.
—Yvonne Hess, Charter Member, The Brooklin 7
FIVE STARS
Ms. A.B Funkhauser is a brilliant and wacky writer incapable of dumbing things down and amen for that. Her distinctive voice tells an intriguing story that mixes moral conflicts with dark humor, not too mention booze and cigarettes.

The book’s title refers to the lead character, a lawyer who dies in his home. As the body decomposes, the man’s spirit experiences euphoria, rage, disappointment and eventually hope. One of my favourite characters Enid, an employee of the Weibigand Brothers Funeral Home where Heuer now resides just happens to be Heuer the dead lawyer’s former girlfriend, and as we re-live the flawed recollections of their murky past—it really poses the question. How do we deal with death?​

—Rachael Stapleton, Author, The Temple of Indra’s Jewel and Curse of the Purple Delhi Sapphire
FIVE STARS
The macabre black comedy Heuer Lost And Found, written by A.B. Funkhauser, is definitely a different sort of book! Her protagonist Heuer dies but his spirit hangs around as he waits for his body to be collected a week later from his dirty, litter strewn flat. In the funeral home, ready to be embalmed, he finds out it’s an ex-girlfriend, now alcoholic, who will do the process. Add to that a talking rat…
You will enjoy this book with its mixture of horror and humour.
—Diana Harrison, Author, Always and Forever
FIVE STARS
Heuer Lost and Found is a quirky and irreverent story about a man who dies and finds his spirit trapped in a funeral home with an ex-lover who happens to be the mortician. He has to come to terms with his hoarding, degenerate past before he can escape. I love the character of Heuer, the Lawyer. He’s not a loveable character, but he’s as fascinating as watching a bug under a microscope. I found myself rooting for the guy, which is always the mark of a strong character. The characterization is rich the story well-told.
—Cryssa Bazos, Writer’s Community of Durham Region, Ontario, Canada
FIVE STARS
Author A. B. Funkhauser strikes a macabre chord with her book “Heuer Lost and Found”. Written from the perspective of an undertaker, she gives her readers a ringside seat at the Weibigand Mortuary where Enid, a middle aged woman with a taste for scotch, arrives on a Monday morning still in a stupor from the night before. Initially, the reader learns a bit about Enid and the history of the mortuary, its original owners and their heirs who continue to operate the family owned business, along with all of its eccentric employees. Early in the day, a call is received and there after a not so typical day in the life of a mortuary begins. Heuer, a well known middle aged attorney has been found dead in his apartment, where he laid for several days. The story now moves between present day and flash backs to a time when Heuer, Enid and others in the story are intertwined in one way or another. Heuer appears as a ghostly spectre to enchant us with his own take on his past, and his current impressions of what is being said and done as his body is prepared for burial. I for one like this book. I found it to have a similar feel to the HBO series “Six Feet Under”.
Ms. Funkhauser is a wizard with words and did a fine job of weaving this story of Greek, German and English speaking families that bounced back and forth throughout the entire book.
—Young, Author, A Harem Boy’s Saga Vol I, II, and III
FIVE STARS
Heuer’s difficult relationship with women and his mother seems to be a focal here, but so are references to friendship, loneliness and feelings of inadequacy. The irony that it’s an old girlfriend with a ton of problems taking care of him as his funeral director, is startling. The author depicts the flaws and human nature in both characters. This book is an incredible read that does not allow the audience to “fall asleep” at any time. A MUST READ!
—Daisy Kourkoulakos, Mississauga, Ontario
FIVE STARS
Not really horror or occult, this book mixes soul searching with some pretty off the wall humour. When a lawyer dies in his home with his spirit body for company, he must pass the time reminiscing with the walls while learning to move objects with his mind. Once his body’s found by a sexy coroner he madly wants to date, he finds himself stuck at a funeral home with a bunch of odd strangers including an ex girlfriend who likes to drink. What does a guy have to do to get on with his after life? Scaring the crabby neighbor is a start. I enjoyed this book because it’s extremely witty and the characters do really unexpected things like house breaking and scaring mourners at funerals. Perfect for anyone who likes gallows humour!
—Suzanne Fairbrass Stacey, Lake Simcoe, Ontario
FIVE STARS
Having received my copy of the work personally from the author, the first thing I have to mention, is that although not my usual cup of tea, but Heuer Lost and Found, is without a doubt a great story to get into and stay captivated by.

The setting may seem a little unorthodox and considered slightly macabre, but that is what made this work. This is a story that to me, felt like it abides by its own set rules and the pace is brilliantly maintained by the ever wordy A.B. Funkhauser. Even with an extensive vocabulary, the variety of words used were more of a pleasure than a pain and reminded me of the works by Bram Stoker, a personal favourite author of mine.

The story is lovingly crafted and is full of noteworthy lines that just stick in the memory, such as the phrase: Was sein wird, wird sein und was hineinschaut, schaut auch wieder raus—What will be, will be, and what looks in, looks out.

And if that’s not enough to entice, maybe the ensemble cast of Enid, Charlie, Clara is. A trio who although feel like a mix-matched bunch that shouldn’t be in each others lives, author Funkhauser bound them together just so.

For a story centered around death, it is full of Life.

—Rocky Rochford, Author, Rise of Elohim Chronicles
FOUR STARS
I didn’t know what to make of this at first, and then I was half way through it, and then I was at the end…but I didn’t want it to be over. Funkhauser made me learn new words like “aegis” and then I was laughing too hard to notice that I was actually at a sad part. Like Breaking Bad’s Walter White, Heuer is not a likeable man, but I somehow found myself rooting for him. A strange, complicated character. I have to look at him again. I hope there’ll be more where this came from!
—Kasey Balko, Pickering, Ontario
FIVE STARS
Multifaceted characters layered into a modern plot with plenty of sub cues based in the past. Heuer and Enid in their own way are similar so it makes sense that they’d come together again even if the circumstances are strange. Though spirit and funeral director never meet face to face, their simpatico is strong and their conversations are heartbreaking and real. The staff at the funeral parlour are good for laughs! Charlie, Dougie and poor old Robert the intern, who has to put up with a lot, break the tension and keep this thing rattling to a poignant conclusion.
—Dawn-Jane Dusomos-Guay, Cornwall, Ontario

What a great start to a blog tour!

THE FUNKHAUSER ROAD SHOW BEGINS APRIL 20 WITH AN INTERVIEW AND REVIEW AT http://shylawolff.blogspot.com/

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GUILTY PLEASURES: THE ONE’S THAT STICK

Many years ago, I hooked into a public television series that brought to life the detective novels of Dorothy

Ian Carmichael as Lord Peter Wimsey
Ian Carmichael as Lord Peter Wimsey

L. Sayers. WHOSE BODY? CLOUDS OF WITNESS and UNNATURAL DEATH to name a few brought we, the devotees of Masterpiece Theatre and MYSTERY!, face to face with an immaculately dressed, preternaturally wealthy English nit named Lord Peter Wimsey. Fussy, feckless and a bit grating in his dedication to detail, he was the ideal sleuth, rambling freely against a background of country houses, ornate gardens and immaculately tended lawns. Fans couldn’t get enough of him and neither could his creator Sayers, whom aficionados said was actually in love with her creation.

Lord Peter might not be my type, but I certainly get the notion of a writer getting more out of the character than mere words on the page.

A lot of people have asked me where Jürgen Heuer comes from, and my answers vary, depending on my mood. Yes, he’s a work of fiction, but every fiction, to paraphrase Ian Fleming, “is precedent on some kind of fact.”

Rhett and BelleHeuer, like Sayers’ Wimsey, is incredibly real, although I doubt very much either she or I would make it through a meal with him without an outburst or two. Maybe it’s a condition of what inspires. The bad, the badder, the really, really broken. Good guys—perfect guys—just don’t pack the same punch. Heck, even Rhett Butler hung out at Belle Watling’s house of extraordinary extra circular activities, and NOBODY held that against him.

I did not set out to warp Heuer as much as I did. In fact, he plays rather nicely in the opening chapters of THE HEUER EFFECT which traces his early life. But there was something about the later man, the mature man, that courted the darkness. He’s been through the wars and has been affected by them, such that he screamed “go darker” and so I did.

simcoeThe idea that the bad side of a character is more compelling than the good follows me to this day: The anit-appeal generated by the real life figure of Capt. John Graves Simcoe on AMC’s excellent TURN: Washington’s Spies, is a case in point. Excellently portrayed by actor Samuel Roukin, Simcoe wreaks havoc among Republican forces in Setauket Long Island, hangs innocents without a blink, and composes creepy love sonnets to a winsome lass who’d shoot him herself if she could. And all the while, the lanky red coat finds time to prep for higher office north of the border as the First Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada. (True stuff and crikey, we even named a lake and a civic holiday after him.)

It’s not the rich sets, protagonists and dialogue that brings me back. It’s Simcoe, and it pains me to say so.

Likewise, there’s the affable, ne’er do well Saul Goodman from BETTER CALL SAUL, another AMC sauloffering on hiatus after just ten episodes. Unlike Simcoe and Heuer, Saul is sweet, rubber faced and apologetically dishonest. With every bad deed, Saul struggles to do good and we love him for it. But each time he backslides into the old life—that of Slippin’ Jimmy from Cicero, Illinois—we’re on our feet, cheering. Shame we know how it ends: Saul is a prequel to BREAKING BAD. But the end’s not the point. It’s the “how” of the getting there that does it.

Heuer’s story isn’t over yet. The third book in the series “Unapologetic Lives” offers hope. But given this writer’s penchant for her creation, redemption is highly unlikely.

Salut, D.L. Sayers

ON PROVENANCE: WHAT MAKES HEUER TICK

Who we are and what we are depends on how honest we choose to be. At least that’s how my character Jürgen Heuer (pronounced ‘lawyer’) likes to play it out in life and death. Born in Bremen, Germany with summers spent in the Austrian Tyrol he is literally preprogrammed to be a romantic.

His mother, a dreamer raised on Schumann, palinka shots and weeping Hungarian violins demands it. “Love, my love, and desire—Sensucht—longing: These are the things that make the history, the things upon which great legends are built. Without these, you have dust in your mouth.”

wandern

Yet Heuer’s love for things musical “the cicada’s song” or lyrical “… her tangs of violet commixing with scents of must, like the old place back home in Europe” are squelched by history and a profound belief that he is “born bad” and cannot undo it.

“Small, both in mind and body, he had tremendous appetites, all of which skewed towards becoming more than what he actually was.” An apropos description not of the man, but of the father, Werner, whose tastes “… classic in [their] narcissism, embraced the moldy old ethos of ethnicity over geography, and, as such, he was first in line when Anschluss came to Vienna…”

anschluss1

Werner Heuer has no time for art or music: “For him, the rhythmic tapping of jackboots on pavement went beyond forced occupation; it was the end of the road after a long trek.”

Eschewing his parents’ hang-ups, Heuer does his best to build a life in America that is, by all accounts, immensely successful and hardly lonely. But it is contrived. Dodging promotion, cruising the outer banks that frame society, he keeps to himself, except when he toys with the lives of others. When a young colleague joins the firm Heuer takes action, not swiftly, but slowly, the way he likes it: “The decision to ruin a young man half his age was taken lightly and on purpose, as if giving weight to the decision conferred unjust power on the youth. To Heuer, it was personal, but also a test to see if he could actually do it.”

All business, Heuer reminds me of another character, Irmtraut Weibigand, currently under construction in POOR UNDERTAKER, a work in progress. A woman of business, she wrestles with secret doubts about the veracity of her citizenship, place in the community, and the integrity of the people she tries to call friends. A raucous Chamber of Commerce luncheon exacerbates this, when she rises in defense of her frenemy Hartmut Fläche, whose effete manners and pomposity alight the simmering hatred of fellow Chamber member Conrad Hickey. Defending Fläche’s right to exist, Irmtraut loses her cool as she’s reminded that she’s as ‘foreign’ as he is even though she has been a part of the community for nearly thirty years. Well read, she cannot help but think of Shakespeare’s monster Caliban from the Tempest making a subtle but conscious comparison to her own place on the ‘island’ that is Portside, Michigan. Thinking back to her mother, her provenance and her roots, she is cut at the knees, reminding herself that no matter how fine she becomes, she will always wear homespun.

Like Irmtraut, like Werner, Heuer wrestles with his identity which takes centre stage anno domini. His inane Germanity  no longer an issue, Heuer wishes only to be cared for and remembered.

FOLLOW THE BLOG TOUR BEGINNING APRIL 20 THRU MAY 18

Heuer Lost and Found Banner 540 x 200

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Can a fly interview a rat? Malay Upadhyay thinks so. Funkhauser doesn’t argue.

It was with great pleasure that I appeared recently on fellow Solstice author Malay Upadhyay’s blog AUTHORZ & CHARACTERZ in support of the upcoming release of HEUER LOST AND FOUND. Photo - Malay UpadhyayYou may recall that Malay was featured here recently to promote his work Kalki Evian: The Ring of Khaoriphea. Like yours truly, Malay has no problem whatever assigning qualities magical and mystical to humble creatures. In that spirit, he endeavoured to interview me IN CHARACTER; in this case as the incomparable Rat, whose influence in Heuer’s funeral parlor exceeds what one might normally expect. Reproduced today…

Interview with A. B. Funkhauser

Hallo, guyz! Today we are going to teeter around a deathly zone – a fine line between thiz and that world. Az our ezteemed guide, we have A. B. Funkhauser, a funeral director cum wildlife and clazzic car enthuziazt from Ontario, Canada.

Zhe takez uz through her debut novel, Heuer Lost And Found – which combinez Adult, Paranormal and Dark Humor in a fiction – az a rather unexpected creature.

Fly: Welcome, Mz. Funkhauser. I zee you are in a different mold today.

AB: You bet, Fly. Rats have a nasty reputation, but there’s more to me than good looks and an above average competency in Latin. We are clean, clever and very friendly, which is why my life and death in HEUER LOST AND FOUND is celebrated favourably by most of the characters.

Fly: That’z awesome! If it’s any support, flies get a bad rap too. But here we are in a funeral parlor. What’s new?

New Funkhauser ShotRat: Silent. More than usual. The guys – Enid and her manager, Charlie – are trying to make ends meet because deaths have been few and that has robbed them of their payroll! Heuer’s death, while hard on Enid, was the first death call in weeks. He really saves the day.

Fly: I find a zcary zenze of irony in all this! But let’z talk about the novel. Heuer Lost & Found beginz with the death of Jürgen Heuer. How did your alter ego come by that idea?

Rat: It was in the winter of 2010, and after a long day at the funeral home she looked down the long hall joining the director’s office to the back door leading three steps up and out into the parking lot. The back door on the cover is a more than accurate representation of it. It’s from a real funeral home, you know? Anyway, a thought occurred to her at that moment: What if a slightly life-challenged mortician tripped over her man shoes and landed squarely on her posterior, only to learn that someone she once knew and cared about had died, and that she was next on the staff roster to care for his remains? Freaky, no? But there it is Ad infinitum

Fly: Tell uz about Heuer?

Rat: Beyond a word rhyming with “lawyer,” Heuer the lawyer is a very conflicted man. Intensely private, heElevator - Copy craves recognition, but doesn’t want anyone to get too close. When he finds my shattered body on the floor of the Wisteria Slumber Room, he approaches, commenting on the exceptional beauty of my fur. At that moment, he recognizes beauty in an unlikely thing. I found this particularly charming about him. I must confess, however, to being more than a little put out when he confronts my murderer. I had great hopes for moral redress; instead, he takes pity and tries to help her. What can I say? Ecce homo.

Fly: That’z exciting. Where can the readerz get accezz to theze?

Rat: Through Amazon.com .ca .co.uk Bookgoodies and the publisher www.solsticepublishing.com. Here are some buy links:

Buy Link (United States)

Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.com/Heuer-Lost-Found-B-Funkhauser-ebook/dp/B00V6KLAMA/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1427367625&sr=1-1&keywords=heuer+lost+and+found

Buy Link International (Country specific Amazon sites)

Book Goodies: http://bookgoodies.com/a/B00V6KLAMA

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25232328-heuer-lost-and-found?from_search=true

Direct buy presale link (United States): http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=ntt_athr_dp_sr_1?_encoding=UTF8&field-author=A.B.%20Funkhauser&search-alias=digital-text&sort=relevancerank

Also, information will be posted as it becomes available on her website www.abfunkhauser.com and her author page on Facebook www.facebook.com/heuerlostandfound. I believe she posted a most excellent profile of your alter ego there, Fly. (laughs)

Fly: Zome inspiration that. What would you zay haz inzpired A.B. Funkhauser in real life?

Rat: She has an amazing support group—her family, her writer’s group The Brooklin 7, and pretty well everyone she comes into contact with, from friends at the grocery store and local coffee house to the lady who helps her with her printing at Staples. She also maintains close connections to friends and work colleagues in funeral service, a business I must say that can easily be misunderstood with little effort. She believes in the work, and through writing has tried to shine a light on it.

Fly: And any author or artizt can vouch for how important thoze things are. Working as a funeral director, what iz Mz. Funkhauser’z take on life?

Rat: Like most funeral directors, she is governed by a strong sense of altruism fueled by the belief that life chooses us and we not it. She celebrates it daily, from simple chores to writing new chapters. And she loves the outdoors. It’s been a long winter here in Canada. She needs to get outside and roam.

Enid - CopyFly: In the ztory, we have Enid on one zide, who lozez zomeone important to her – Heuer – without a chance to zay a final goodbye. On the other zide, we have Heuer whose ztory, and in zome way, life itself unfoldz after hiz death. In a zingle ztroke, you introduce uz readerz to both our greatezt fear and our greatezt wizh!

Take uz through thiz experience with regardz to getting zecond chancez in life. Which perzpective would you zay you lean more towards in real life?

Rat: The first thing Funkhauser got rid of after her thirtieth birthday was the idea that all she had in front of her was second chances. She decided instead to roll with the idea that it’s all a continuum…good days, bad days, successes and failures. She refuses to see the end. She sees the next day and all the promise that comes with it. On a micro level, if she suffers less than three disappointments in a day, it’s been a pretty amazing day!

The character Heuer in life goes through the motions of working and acquiring “stuff”. His house is literally packed to the ceiling with ‘treasures’ signifying a life in progress. But there is no real human contact. He avoids his neighbors wherever possible, does not have a spouse or significant other, and lives through what he sees on the television and in old photos. After death, being found is prime to him because his objects can’t call for help, and there is no one out there looking for him.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is Enid. She has done everything her society expects of her: she has a career, a spouse, family, friends and hobbies. But her life is changing. Her eyesight is blurred; her step, less sure footed. “There is unfinished business here,” Heuer says, and it’s to that business that the book turns; so not so much a second chance, but a recognition that the drama and comedy are still continuing.

Fly: That anomaly iz a work of art! I have to bring up a literal one at thiz point, though – The Lamp. Very much living, myzteriouz and absolutely fascinating! Care to introduce uz to it?

The Lamp embodies the spirit of the funeral home matriarch who died decades before. Anchored to the floor by her griffin’s feet, she can travel in the minds of others, but cannot leave her place in the dusty, cramped funeral home basement. There is a parallel here; that her domicile closely resembles Heuer’s and that their predicaments are similar. It was inevitable that the two should become allies, although their relationship is a strained one.

Fly: And you embody one of them?

More Heuer, I think. As I said earlier, rats have a bad rap owing to history and human malfeasance. The same is true for Heuer. He carries with him the sins of his father. Just by being born, he is convinced that he is bad, and rather than try to overcome it, he embraces it in his twenties. The tragedy for him is that his life is a lie and all the angst that ruled him in life was completely without merit.

Fly: Alright, don’t say anymore! I can barely control my urge to flip through the pagez right till the very end. When doez the book come out?

Rat: It hits all the AMAZONS April 23, 2015. Presales began March 26, 2015.

Fly: Time to mark our calendarz then. For now, we make do with the preview. Thank you, dear Rat, for your attendance today.

Rat: You can call me ‘The’. That’s my first name.

Fly: Really?! Mine too! Damn, what are the chances??Rat

Rat: (laughs) That’s my point, dear friend. You and I share the same hang-ups. Of course we’d align. Amicitiae nostrae memoriam spero sempiternam fore.

Fly: The Fly, mind you. It’s time to get out of the funeral parlour! And to all the readerz, enjoy the excerpt from Heuer’z pozthumouz world!

Happy living,

The Fly

It's happening April 23, 2015
It’s happening April 23, 2015

 AN EXCERPT FEATURING “RAT”

Rat should have seen it coming. He was a rat after all and therefore genetically predisposed to a shorter life. As such, he should have taken better care. But tender concern for his friend obscured his view, and this deprived him of a rodent’s perfunctory need to avoid detection.

Mrs. Emmy Shawson-Cooke-With-An-”E” late of The Springs by way of Baycon Hill had died quietly in her bed in her ninety-sixth year. Owing to her advanced age, her family decided that a little-more-than-this-side-of-nothing was required to get her on her way as quickly as possible. To that, arrangements were concluded between Teddy Shawson-Cooke-With-An-”E,” her great nephew and heir, and Charles Emerson Forsythe, funeral director extraordinaire.

“I’m very sad to hear of your great aunt’s passing,” Charlie said somberly, for he liked Emmy very much. A wealthy woman, she was a doyen, a neighborhood fixture, raising funds for world wild life, Christian children and Ethiopian famine relief. But she was more than just money. At the heart of her was a genuinely good human being who said what she meant, and acted on her commitments. In the early years, she was a constant fixture at Weibigand’s, resplendent in a magnificent suite of emeralds that Charlie never tired of commenting upon. “I bring in the business, don’t I Charlie?” she would say through cherry lips under a pillbox hat. Indeed she did, and Charlie encouraged her familiarity. Both shared a special bond. Even after her (some said) forced relocation to the nursing home in The Springs, she never failed to fire off emails to her Charlie to make sure he was okay. And Charlie always visited her on her birthday and at Christmas.

Emeralds? Rat was barely two years old and so had never met Emmy Shawson-Cooke. But he knew well enough about gemstones and other things too, and so it was to this that he turned his attention as he repositioned himself inside Charlie’s monk strap Prada slip on. They were in the front office, Rat’s favorite room by far. It faced the street, was pleasantly lit, and with its high coffered ceiling, offered stunning acoustical advantages. Charlie was reminiscing with Teddy about the gemstones: They sparkled blue at their centers, spanning outward only to be confined devilishly in beveled frames of seawater green. Spectacular—like the Bering Strait meeting the Caribbean Sea. Emmy’s late husband Cecil joked that they could shame Tsars and tease laughs from stone.

“I beg your pardon,” Charlie said noticing Rat beneath him. It was Charlie’s habit to remove his shoes in mid-afternoon to promote better circulation, but they were in the way now under the large desk and he took care not to disturb the Weibigand mascot as he moved the shoes off to one side.

Teddy Shawson-Cooke shifted from haunch to haunch, his incredible heft straining the pound for pound capacity of the Faux Toscano Victorian Rococo wing chair he was sitting on. Forsythe, sensing the man’s discomfort, did his best to speed up the meeting. Emmy had prearranged her funeral and Teddy was undoing as much of it as he could because, he said, “there was no one left” and “doing her up for nothing was just plain stupid.” Truth was, Teddy had the power to add the money saved from a cheapo funeral to his aunt’s estate, from which he could pay himself as executor.

Charlie smiled down at Rat who, in an act of implicit trust, dozed off in his shoe.

“Allow me, if you will, to think out loud,” Charlie said, in anticipation of what Teddy wanted to serve up next. If the meeting went on much longer, Emmy’s casket choice would be undone too and no one at Weibigand’s—Charlie most all—could bear to put Emmy into anything less than the mahogany she’d paid for years before. “Your great aunt put her faith in us to carry out her wishes. I understand where you are coming from, but I must insist on the single night of visiting she paid for.”

Shawson-Cooke, in saying nothing, red-flagged Charlie, and he picked up speed. “Now the emerald suite. I trust she will be wearing it, as always?” Teddy replied that it was “long gone” save for the ring which, he hoped, “found its way out of the nursing home before someone else got to it.”

Down on the floor below, Rat dreamed of Carla and, more particularly, her less than utterly no-good spouse Danny Blue—a musician in a band that had, in the space of two years, eroded the family fortune on protracted road trips through northern Canada. Designed to boost the band’s profile and hopefully springboard them into other gigs in Manitoba, the latest tour had bogged down south of Parry Sound and Danny Blue had forgot to come home. The issue at hand was money. Plain and simple. And in dreams, Rat searched for a solution.

Thank you Malay for your kind hospitality. All the best to you and much success for Kalki Evian.

Find it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Bookgoodies. Check out my review on Goodreads.
Find it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Bookgoodies. Check out my review on Goodreads.

SOMETHING NEW!

I love a new video, don’t you? What makes it even better for me is that I made it myself and I can’t stop groovin’ to it.

Paranormal mortuary fiction with a touch of gonzo never felt so good! Voila!!