From Humor to Horror: The Mortician and Her Charge

A fellow scribbler recently asked if I’d thought about working in other genres, and I had to take a moment before answering. After a couple of slugs of coffee, here’s what I said: Anything’s possible, but do YOU consciously sit down and say “I’m going to write a romance today?”

It’s true that we have an idea about what we want on the page after a few false starts and a meme or two. But if you’re like me, you give your characters a wide berth and let them do the driving.

The tale of halting mortician Enid Krause and her charge, the badly decomposed Jurgen Heuer (read “Heuer” as in “lawyer”) for me was a platform from which to launch some stories about what it’s like to be a funeral director in the space of a few precious days. The minutae, the stuff we as directors take for granted like getting the flowers from visitation suite to church to grave without the family and mourners seeing us do it, became a subject of intense interest for some readers. The fact that the work was so physical along with the long hours often spent waiting for something to happen seemed to be a jump point for discussion as well.

That HEUER went from conversation piece about an atypical job to an award winner under the HORROR category in 2015’s PREDITORS & EDITORS reader poll did not surprise readers, but it did surprise me in the best possible way.

HEUER LOST AND FOUND is many things to me: it is a platform from which to rhapsodize about things near and dear, but it’s also a staging point for exploring complicated grief, guilt, addiction, false love, false starts, and, yes, embalming while under the influence of all of the above. Most exciting to me, was that I was able to present difficult and often horrific subjects under the umbrella of gonzo fiction; that is to say: by making the tough accessible through humor.

I’d like to thank my publisher Summer Solstice, a line division of Solstice Publishing, for believing in what I am trying to do. Solstice gives me the courage to press on through the hard slog that is editing and promoting. Most importantly, they give me what I need to keep creating new work. Thank you Melissa Miller, Kate M. Collins and K.C. Sprayberry for keeping me on task.

The PREDITORS & EDITORS Reader’s Poll was my first award and as such, my most precious, not just for the validation it gave me personally (shades of Sally Field at the Oscars back in 1985 dogged me, but only for a moment), but for the acknowledgement that the book and characters are MORE than they appear. What seemed incredibly funny to some mortified others and vice versa. Tissue boxes, I’m told, were reached for in the closing chapters, while others cheered for Heuer, a “strange and complicated” character, to succeed in spite of his sometimes odious behavior.

Have I tried other genres since Heuer? Most definitely, but only because the characters allowed me to do so. If HEUER LOST AND FOUND has taught me anything, it’s that everything is subjective at all times.

Thank you one and all for your tremendous support on the journey. I am incredibly grateful.

Adult, unapologetic and wholly cognizant,

I am


Since this article was first published, the author has JPEG Scooter Award Winner - Copyreleased two more books in the Unapologetic Lives series. SCOOTER NATION follows up with the erstwhile and chemically-dependent funeral directors at Weibigand Brothers Funeral Home as they combat a mendacious sybarite hell-bent on remaking the business. SHELL GAME COVER w Readers FavoriteSHELL GAME, released in September 2017, goes outside Weibigand’s to examine a seemingly pastoral community with a lot to hide. When an ethereal black cat is kidnapped by a feline fetishist sex cult obsessed with film auteur Pilsen Gudderammerung, society must choose between moral or physical gentrification.




Toronto born author A.B. Funkhauser is a funeral director, classic car nut and wildlife enthusiast living in Ontario, Canada. Like most funeral directors, she is governed by a strong sense of altruism fueled by the belief that life chooses us and not we it.


Her debut novel Heuer Lost and Found, released in April 2015, examines the day to day workings of a funeral home and the people who staff it. Winner of the Preditors & Editors Reader’s Poll for Best Horror 2015, and the New Apple EBook Award 2016 for Horror, Heuer Lost and Found is the first installment in Funkhauser’s Unapologetic Lives series. Her sophomore effort, Scooter Nation, released March 11, 2016, through Solstice Publishing. Winner of the New Apple Ebook Award 2016 for Humor, and Winner Best Humor Summer Indie Book Awards 2016, Scooter picks up where Heuer left off, this time with the lens on the funeral home as it falls into the hands of a woeful sybarite.


A devotee of the gonzo style pioneered by the late Hunter S. Thompson, Funkhauser attempts to shine a light on difficult subjects by aid of humorous storytelling. “In gonzo, characters operate without filters which means they say and do the kinds of things we cannot in an ordered society. Results are often comic but, hopefully, instructive.”


SHELL GAME, tapped as a psycho-social cat dramedy with death and laughs, is the third book in the series and takes aim at a pastoral community with a lot to hide. “With so much of the world currently up for debate, I thought it would be useful to question—again—the motives and machinations championed by the morally flexible, and then let the arbiter be a cat.”


Funkhauser is currently working on THE HEUER EFFECT, the prequel to HEUER LOST AND FOUND.





Unrepentant cooze hound lawyer Jürgen Heuer dies suddenly and unexpectedly in his litter-strewn home. Undiscovered, he rages against God, Nazis, deep fryers and analogous women who disappoint him.


At last found, he is delivered to Weibigand Brothers Funeral Home, a ramshackle establishment peopled with above average eccentrics, including boozy Enid, a former girlfriend with serious denial issues. With her help and the help of a wisecracking spirit guide, Heuer will try to move on to the next plane. But before he can do this, he must endure an inept embalming, feral whispers, and Enid’s flawed recollections of their murky past.


Winner Best Horror, Preditors & Editors 2015

Medalist Winner “Horror,” New Apple EBook Awards 2016

Geo Buy Link:




“Funny, quirky, and sooooo different.”

—Jo Michaels, Jo Michaels Blog

“Eccentric and Funny. You have never read anything like this book. It demands respect for the outrageous capacity of its author to describe in detail human behavior around death.”

—Charlene Jones, author THE STAIN

“The macabre black comedy Heuer Lost And Found, written by A.B. Funkhauser, is definitely a different sort of book!  You will enjoy this book with its mixture of horror and humour.”

—Diana Harrison, Author ALWAYS AND FOREVER

“This beautifully written, quirky, sad, but also often humorous story of Heuer and Enid gives us a glimpse into the fascinating, closed world of the funeral director.”

—Yvonne Hess, Charter Member, The Brooklin 7

“The book runs the gamut of emotions. One minute you want to cry for the characters, the next you are uncontrollably laughing out loud, and your husband is looking at you like you lost your mind, at least mine did.”

“The writing style is racy with no words wasted.”


“For a story centered around death, it is full of life.”


“Like Breaking Bad’s Walter White, Heuer is not a likeable man, but I somehow found myself rooting for him. A strange, complicated character.”

—Kasey Balko, Pickering, Ontario

Raw, clever, organic, intriguing and morbid at the same time … breathing life and laughter into a world of death.

—Josie Montano, Author VEILED SECRETS


Amazon Author Page:






Audio Interview:

Interview Part 1:

Interview Part 2:




CHARLENECharlene: One of my proudest moments after publishing The Stain on Amazon (and check out the upcoming free days, starting May 19 when you may download Ebook The Stain for FREE) was to receive an unsolicited review that marked the book with 5 Stars!

B. Nelson was kind enough to say:

“This is a beautifully written book, a complex tale of love and loss. In The Stain: A Story of Karma Reincarnation and Release from Suffering, author Charlene Jones takes us through time in a flowing literary style that is not only a pleasure to read but difficult to put down…

“This is a beautifully written book…Highly recommended. Five stars.”


Charlene: I want to say nothing cheers a writer more than hearing another person notice with favor the style in which she writes. Thank you B Nelson and I am in your debt although I do not know you.

Another top reviewer for Amazon, Pennie Mae, had this to say:

“Well executed novel that spills out so many types of emotions. Three women separated by centuries deliver romance, heartache and betrayal. ..The stories move smoothly throughout and crafted and entwined together which makes for a great read. My favorite one is ‘Tahni’, who is from the 1640’s though I don’t want to give away any spoilers.”

Charlene: I crossed paths with Pennie Mae on Goodreads, a fabulous site for writers and readers of all interests. Pennie not only read my book on a whim, but enjoyed it so much she has requested copies of any other writing I do! I’m not sure my next book, due out this fall 2015 will suit her tastes, as I veer wildly away from Fiction into Non-Fiction with my book on (hold on, be patient) Vajrayana Buddhist Meditation parallels Neuroscience! The book, Medicine Buddha/Medicine Mind really is an easy to read guide to how to best make the most use of that amazing organ, your brain! I’m deeply excited in a kind of quiet way for this book to hit neuroscience readers, meditators, writers, all of us interested in how our brains work.

Back to THE STAIN…

Book Blurb

Diana’s deepest struggles echo thunderous trouble from unresolved lives in the distant past. She discovers she has the power to release every one of them—for a price! Will she walk with the Dead to cleanse The Stain? Would you?


Charlene Diane Jones’ 40 plus years of Tibetan Buddhist study and meditation inform The Stain, her description of the laws of Karma and Reincarnation in novel form.

Her love of Neuroscience highlights her experience as a meditation teacher in the soon to be released non-fiction work “Medicine Buddha/Medicine Mind: a Short, Easy to Read guide to your Brain and How to Use It.”

Look for it at and on under the name Medicine Buddha/Medicine Mind.

Charlene: Here are more excerpts from reviews. You’ll find the reviews in their entirety, and the book of course, at under Charlene Diane Jones (right next to the ads for cleaning products!!) lol

or at under the same.


Brendan S Gall – Writer in Residence Tarragon Theatre “…THE STAIN – a fearless first novel that spans continents, cultures and centuries to tell the unflinching stories of three women…underneath…a quiet hope persists, winding through its pages… An astonishing debut.”

AE Horn -“The Stain will linger long after you turn the final page.”

Mehreen Ahmed – Charlene Diane Jones’ sensuous book is seriously captivating…The writer’s story-telling talent is evident in her stylistic strength of conjuring profound and eternal themes of suffering, death and disappointment.

Yes, the themes universal and constant do engage the reader with some sad territory but the outcome I hope is as these reviewers agree, worth it. Redemption and a path for shifting out of, away from one’s own “stain” or repetitive ongoing patterns, shines through in the work, a beacon to those of us curious about the nature of human life, the position of suffering, our history as a species and the deep individual lives that have come before us. I hope you enjoy it and may you be well and happy!


reading my own book blog tourHeuer Lost and Found Banner 540 x 200



author photo

I wrote this nearly two years ago. I had hoped the pain, anger and anguish would diminish a bit … It hasn’t. Since my Dad’s passing, I have spoken with many other family members whose loved ones were wrongly treated by the VA. Pacified with medication and sent off to die. I tried to do something after his passing to bring the VA accountable, but it seems they are protected …

The reason I am re-sharing my Dads story is that hopefully if someone out there is going through similar circumstances, they read this and know to get help. A second opinion outside the confines of the VA. It could save their life.

— Vicki-Ann Bush

Dad wanted to come home and my brother and me were determined that he would. We discussed and made the arrangements with the doctors for hospice at home. The doctor couldn’t give us too much time because once they stopped the heavy duty meds, things would start to fail more quickly. Everyone at Sunrise Hospital and at the hospice, worked together to get Dad home. And on Friday May 10, 2013, he did. Mom had them set up the hospital bed in the living room and Dad had a day filled with all his family and close friends. He got to see his great grand daughter, Olive, whom he had missed terribly the past six weeks he was in the hospital. He got to sing happy birthday to his grand daughter, Stevie, and ate lemon Italian ice, his favorite, that his niece Sarah brought to him. Mom got to sit next to him and watch their show on television, NCIS and talk to him about having to eat so he could get better…we’re Italian, food heals all. He was surrounded with love like no other and the kind of love that every person alive should be fortunate enough to experience. But we were merely a reflection of him. Of the life he lived, the choices he made and the love he gave to all of us.


By night fall he had begun to experience pain. With each half hour it seemed to grow, until the meds the doctor had ordered earlier arrived. We gave him his first dose and it seemed to make him more comfortable but a few hours later the pain came back again and at one point when I was stroking Dad’s forehead, he told me he had wanted to die. Before long it was time to give him his second dose and instead of the first lesser dose, we read the instructions and gave him the second medium strength hoping it would last longer and he would sleep through the night.

I stayed with mom that night and periodically would get up and go check on Dad. She had insisted on sleeping on the couch next to him, instead of on their bed. The medicine seemed to work because he slept through the night.

I got up around seven and poured a cup of coffee. Mom was still sleeping on the couch beside Dad and they both looked so peaceful. I was happy that he was able to get through the night with no pain. A few minutes later mom woke up and remarked that we must of worn him out from the day before. I just smiled and nodded. As we sat and had coffee, it became eight, then nine and then ten in the morning. At this point it was clear…Dad wasn’t waking up. The family came and spent the day by his side, telling him how much he was loved and that we understood it was time for him to go and it was okay. We promised to take care of each other and mom and that he didn’t have to worry…we would carry through for him.

A little after two, we said our final good byes to the most loving, good man, that I had ever known. But we were very fortunate as a family. We got to say everything we wanted to and Dad got to tell us how much he loved all of us…something he managed to tell us the whole day on Friday. We had no unfinished business, no words unspoken. We had one day…one full day to spend with our father, husband, grandfather, great grandfather, uncle, brother and friend, and we and he lived it…every minute.

I mourn the loss of my Dad everyday. I cry and laugh when I think of a lifetime of memories and yet they don’t seem to be enough. I can’t help but feel anger for those doctors at the VA who saw those test results and did nothing. Wait let me correct myself…they did do something. They patched him together long enough for him to spend six weeks in the hospital and one day at home. I know as time passes, so will my anger. But the paralyzing feeling that we can’t do anything for the next vet or their family makes me sick inside. My Dad believed that because he served his country, went to war and defended our freedom that those doctors would do the same for him…they didn’t and they don’t. How many other men and woman get pushed through and patched up? How many other families heartache can be prevented? Why is the level of care you receive judged by the wad of money in your pocket? Shouldn’t those who risk everything have as much preference as those who risk a bad day at the office? I have the questions…but not the answers.

Dad is gone and I will never be able to hug him or kiss him on the cheek hello again. I do believe I will see him again one day, but not like this…not like this life. I will live the rest of my life with a remembrance of how his voice sounded when he called me angel or baby, how his arms felt hugging me when I went to visit or how his face smelled because he had just finished shaving. My mom will go through life without her best friend by her side to watch NCIS, eat frozen pizza and massage her aching legs and my brother…my brother lost his buddy, his ear to listen too and his jokes to laugh with. And the VA medical care goes on…day to day in a never ending loop of fantasy. Because isn’t that what it’s called, when someone pretends?

I love you daddy…forever and always.

Thank you Vicki-Ann. I can’t offer words because nothing I say will ease the pain. Instead, there is friendship and there is time.