SOMEONE NEW: WRITER BRI VOLINZ STEPS BOLDLY FORWARD

This post is not about me, but I cannot help but share a vital fact: I tried to write many times, many years ago, and could not. I chalked it up to youth and a lack of complaint-worthy and celebratory experiences to deconstruct. There was no use to it. Whatever it was that drove the youthful writer, I did not have it.

Which is why it’s a joy to meet someone in the ‘before thirty category’ laying down thoughts, scenes and stories with an ease I didn’t find until much, much later.

IMG_20151111_143637.jpgBri Volinz and I met by chance through a cat. That’s right, a cat. He appeared one day about three years ago at my back door looking suave and charming with appealing eyes that quickly won me over. My children, of course, wanted to keep him, but I knew he belonged to another. (The bell he wore around his neck was the clue.)

He visited us most days over the summer, and in that time, we named him Carlos (‘Clara’ was first, until we picked him up and turned him over and then — well. lol)

It took more than a few weeks to put together that “Carlos” was actually “Kobe” and that he belonged to Brianna, who lived six doors up from us. Since the day she and I met, we committed to co-parenting this very special cat, while fostering a mutual appreciation of all things writerly.  Not only did our cat tease a new novel out of me (#3), but he ignited — I believe —  a spark in my writer friend that only a true muse can facilitate.

But I’ll let the writer speak for herself.

She is a member of the Writer’s Community of Durham Region and speaks volumes through her keyboard. Though her tastes seem to lean toward shock horror, I believe she is capable of just about anything.

Meet a new writer with a fresh perspective. Hello, Bri!

 

1.

You’re a writer…

bri6Am I? Thank you for the reminder ha ha. I suppose I am a writer, or playing at being one at least. It’s the only passion I’ve ever pursued, and writing really is a labour of love for me, emphasis on the labour. It’s exhausting! It’s like going to the gym: pushing yourself to go is the hardest part, but the payoff from the workout is always worth it. And with writing, I can drink a beer and don’t have to wear pants while I work, which I can’t do at the gym. Trust me.

Ed. — I forgot to mention that she’s a comic too. lol

 

2.

I love that story you wrote about the dating game. What draws you to shock horror?

I actually wrote that one with shock value in mind because I thought it would help me win a contest. (It didn’t). I prefer subtle horror, stuff that’s quiet and lingers. I like horror that lives with you in the back of your mind long after the initial scare.

 

3.

Any sleepless nights because of it?

Unfortunately, no. Nothing I’ve come up with scares me enough, which is too badKobe 1 because I love nightmares. The only thing that keeps me awake at night is my anxiety, which is something I want to explore more in my writing. I’ve got a couple fetus stories (not stories about a fetus, but stories in the early development stages, just to clarify) about my fears blown up, but nothing concrete.

 

4.

Tell the readers how we met.

Through a mutual cat. When Kobe moved in with my parents he expanded his territory and had little care for peoples’ personal property. I remember you saying how one day he came to your door and marched himself up to your bedroom where he slept for hours like he owned the place. Over the years, Kobe’s constant back and forth between our houses brought us together; we’ve been co-parenting ever since.

 

5.

The arrangement with Kobe is, in my view, very modern and insightful. Do you think he knew all along that we’d make him a star?

Absolutely. I think he sought us out. Cats have much better sight than us humans and I think that goes for their foresight too. I bet he pissed off the neighbours on purpose so that letter from the city would reach you and inspire Shell Game.

Ed. — We were ready to pack him off to author Rachael Stapleton’s country abode. That’s how worried we were about losing him to THE MAN. :O

 

6.

Which brings me to that fab FOREWARD you wrote for the book. It’s beautiful. Have you ever tried literary fiction?

No, but I want to go there. I recently finished Karen Russell’s collection Vampires in the Lemon Grove and realized that’s the kind of writing I want to be making. Where the stories are strange, but each word is deliberately chosen and every other sentence makes you stop and say “Wow!” I don’t want to lose the horror element, because it’s what interests me, and I think there’s quite a bit of movement within the genre. But careful crafting is just as important. I want to coexist in both worlds.

Ed. — Then you just have to meet horror poet A. F. Stewart. She boggles!

 

7.

May I reprint the foreward here? (Dying to share!)

Please! I’ll take all the free exposure I can get!

 

Foreword by Bri Volinz

 

I’ve always been a “cat person.” Their aloof, self-sufficient nature matches my own, and I enjoy a good meow. As a child, I would spend hours spooning the family cat in some quiet corner of the house, whispering secrets and insecurities into his twitching ear, as if he were a best friend or a diary. Skin to fur, heart to heart. We had other pets, but it was the cat I sought out for this ritual: something in his jewel eyes told me he was really listening.

My mother once told me that on Christmas Eve the cats could speak. Though I never witnessed these conversations, I did not doubt their reality; the cats were capable of magic because they were cats. It seemed silly not to believe.

My belief was strengthened when I met Kobe. Even as I wrote these words he appeared11125391_496245340522473_5644758440502187682_o (1).jpg at the kitchen door, as if summoned by my thoughts of him. We started as roommates in a windowless basement apartment, where Kobe focused his energy on squeezing into holes in the drywall or escaping out the side door between the legs of the pizza man. Without a word, he was sending me a message: Let me go.

We moved Kobe into the suburbs, to my family home. There, his territory grew like the muscles beneath his fur, and he transformed from house cat to panther, watching over the sleeping streets and feasting on the season’s rabbits. The neighbours quickly got to know him, and he needed no collar to bare his identity (mostly because there wasn’t a collar he couldn’t slip). A graceful, savvy creature with a mind as sharp as his claws and a love for human attention made him the talk of the neighbourhood. Our own local celebrity, if you will.

Kobe 5Kobe met A.B. before I did, though her home is closer than our mailbox. A writer who, at the time, did not consider herself a cat lover, she fell hard for the feline (tall, dark, and handsome works for cats too). Kobe changed both of our lives, inspiring Funkhauser’s writing, and gifting me a mentor and dear friend.

 

Kobe haunts our neighbourhood like a friendly ghost, lingering long enough to be11057719_545573888922951_730878223886852973_o missed. He shows up when he is least expected, but most needed, providing comfort in the touch of his fur and a silence that says: Lay it all on me. At times Kobe is stingy with his affection, but he is just guarding his truth, keeping we humans guessing. We must remember that a cat’s trust has to be earned, like a blue ribbon to be pinned on the wall.

Shell Game was born because of a cat. The muscular, onyx beast who is undeniably something more. He will keep you waiting longer than the guy who hasn’t called, but love you for all of his nine lives. Kobe, or “Carlos the Wonder Cat ,” as you’ll come to know him, is as unique and complex as any human character you’ll read. He is the magic. He is our friend.

 

Bri Volinz

June 27, 2017

Pickering, Ontario

Canada

 

Ed. — Wow! TYSM. 😀

 

8.

What are you working on right now?

I have a few projects on the go, which is my downfall. I jump off so many different ideasbri1 and rarely have the focus to finish anything. One story I’m playing with revolves around two sisters, autism, guilt, and a closet monster. I’m also working out the logistics for a small webcomic about a slime princess and her wannabe Prince Charming, all done in MS Paint. I’m eager to see if either project reaches an ending.

 

9.

Have I forgotten anything?

Hmmm let’s see. I’ve got an online portfolio in the works, but until it’s up, I’m most active on Instagram @brivolinz. It’s the only social media platform I can competently use.

 

Also I have to thank you A.B. (and Kobe) for letting me tag along on this fantastic adventure. I couldn’t ask for better mentors or friends.

My pleasure, Bri. One thing I’ve learned from the writing journey is that writerly folk are generous. We talk, promote and share our stuff. Good things come from this.

Write on, darlin’ !

 

10.

Bri brought along a sample from one of her WIPs. As usual, it is mysterious, clothed with that creepy foreboding she’s so good at.

 

Excerpt from an unnamed wip

 

When the third child within ten miles of town disappeared, your mother insisted the summer be spent indoors. Not behind her doors, maybe, but someone’s.

“Mrs. Atwater is old, she’ll appreciate the help.”

“You mean Mrs. Gnatwater,” you mumble heading down the walk; everybody knows her place is crawling.

You rake your hand across the chipped tawny siding of Number 18, and when you depress the doorbell your finger is CheeZee orange and leaves a neon fingerprint. At your feet, a slop of coffee grounds shimmers, only to be scalped by the metal door frame as it swings open. A slime trail the colour of blackberries smiles up at you from the bungalow’s porch.

“Watch the ants,” says Mrs. Atwater’s voice.

Inside the place is swollen with piles, like a mouth full of sores.

Mounds of clothing stalagmite the floorboards. An overgrown mass of dish towels has split open, and from its core slinks a mildewey stench. Smudgy limbs of naked baby dolls climb up from behind a couch, just segments of body parts visible, like those pictures of aborted foetuses they make everyone look at in Science B.

“Where do I start?” Dust tints your face grey. A gob of chewed gum grows like fungus from the under lip of the kitchen counter, some of the fleshy wads still slick with spit.

Mrs. Atwater cricks her shoulders into a shrug and disappears behind a mountain range of bedding.

Alone, you let the sacred Eenie Meenie Miney Mo guide you to a cluster of shoes near the pantry, where you spend the next hour picking through crusted laces and light-up heels.

You pretend not to recognize the names from the milk cartons scrawled in faded marker on three of the soles.

Ed. – Yikes!

 

Thanks for stopping by, Bri, and good luck in all your writing endeavors. Keep us up-to-date!

–ABF

 

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SCIFI, HORROR & FANTASY AUTHOR MARK ILES TALKS MARTIAL ARTS, WAR, AND THE “WHAT IF?”

1.

You’re a 9th Degree Black Belt in Taekwondo. What drew you more to martial arts: the physicality, or the philosophy?

 

It was a bit of everything really. I was bought up in a place called Slough, not far from London, and used to hang with a rough gang of lads and we were always in trouble with the old bill (police). Taking up a friend’s offer to attend Aikido classes, I saw martial arts as a way out and was immediately hooked. This was before Bruce Lee hit the UK cinemas. For me it was the whole ethos: I loved the scent of sandal wood from the joss sticks, the air of tranquillity, hard physical workouts and the confidence the techniques gave us.

 

2.

To what extent do these influences impact your character Selena Dillon in PRIDE OF LIONS?

 

I joined the military in ’74, where I then began studying Taekwondo. I incorporated the martial arts and military experience (plus that of others) into my writing. Ironically I didn’t realise what I’d done until a couple of years ago. I found I’d subconsciously discovered an outlet for the horror of war, what my friends and I had been through. Discovering I’d found some release through my writing was a light bulb moment.

 

3.

As the title ‘PRIDE’ implies, Selena is part of a team that must work together or die. How does team work compare to the lone wolf character in fiction? Is an ensemble a more satisfying dynamic for the writer to transcribe?

 

In the military you’re taught to be confident in your own abilities, so being part of a team doesn’t mean you stop when you find yourself on your own, you go on and do what you can. This trait and her personal history reflects in Selena Dillon, the Key Character in my novels. I find both dynamics satisfying, and for me the story basically writes itself.

 

4.

PRIDE OF LIONS is a science fiction action adventure and I understand the follow up THE CULL OF LIONS has also been published. What can we expect in book three?

 

CULL’ was released two years ago and it continues Selena’s journey. It also reveals why the war started and Selena’s dismay when the bad guys come back, this time with allies. Through books I and II there’s conflict with the key character and the monarch of her home world, who’s responsible for the death of her parents, as well as Selena’s servitude in the regiments. In book III, ‘ROAR OF LIONS’, there’s both resolution of conflict and development in Selena’s character.

I get emails and messages asking when book III’s coming out, and the answer is hopefully the beginning of next year – if not sooner.

Book III answers many questions and ties up loose strings. For me the whole story depicts people’s cruelty yet also their love, two sides of the same coin – or, if you like, our yin and yang.

 

5.

Tell us a bit about your novellas. Do they have common themes running through them?

 

Most of my fiction and poetry is SF, horror and fantasy – so in that light, yeah. You see I love the ‘what if’ factor, the twists and turns that keep readers gripped right to the end.

I’m a firm believer in the paranormal; it’s what started me writing. During the Falklands, I dreamt about an orb of fire flying through the air and awoke bathed in sweat. That day, the Sheffield was hit. The night before 25th May, I had a similar dream and even spoke to my divisional officer about it, and he told me that date was special in Argentina due to the May Revolution. That day we came under attack again and our ship turned into the missiles, which missed us and hit the Atlantic Conveyor. Both sets of missiles were meant for our ship, HMS Invincible, so to me the dreams were warnings, a premonition if you will.

During Gulf War 1 a missile missed the ship I was on by 300 feet and yet I had no warning, but then it wasn’t meant for my ship. Make of that what you will, but I’m told such things run in my family. Incidentally, I wrote up that first dream and sold it, so that’s where I really started to write.

I’ve also had ghostly experiences, but those are tales for another time. So, as you can see, my writing reflects my life, beliefs and interests – all tinged with the ‘what if’.

 

6.

(Fun question) At what degree do you achieve invisibility?

darren-shahlavi-feature-ip-man-2That’s an easy one, tenth! That’s the honorary rank which you get when you die. You see, nine is a special number in the orient – the last one before double figures. There are nine coloured belts (white again being honorary) and so likewise the black belts, a mirror image of where you start. So I guess I’d have to be invisible to reach tenth degree.

I have to say, however, that there are a few living tenth degrees – which makes no sense to me.

 

Ed-So there’s something in the room with me after all. I knew it!

7.

And Jackie Chan? (see photo)      

                                            

jackie-chan-feature-police-story-3I was based in Hong Kong back in ’83 to ’86, and used to write features for a variety of magazines. I was asked by Combat (the martial arts mag’) to go and interview a rising star who’d recently made a film called ‘Police Story’. Yes, it was Jackie Chan. Unfortunately I couldn’t go, because there was a disaster in the Philippines and our patrol boats had been sent out there to provide disaster relief. This meant our teams were basically ‘watch on, watch off’, providing the communications and so forth.

In all I’ve missed three interviews with Jackie. Methinks I’m doomed to never get that one, which is as a shame because I bet he’d be fascinating. Ironically, one of the guys (Chen Kai Chong) who posed for the photos in my Taekwondo book now works with Jackie all the time. He’s basically one of the bad gangland guys in each movie, but he only gets fleeting images.

 

8.

Any last words?

It’s quite hard writing a series of novels. Everything has to be exactly right and in line with the first book, from the weapons people use, the colour of their eyes, what they drink, how they act – not to mention each character’s personal history. Get it wrong and readers will pounce on you, so there’s a lot of cross referencing and checking needed – let alone research.

The thing I like about writing is the comaradery.  Writers support writers and it’s great.

A special thanks also, by the way, to my readers and followers. Cheers guys, you mean a lot and without you it wouldn’t happen.

 

Ed-Well put. I couldn’t agree more!

 

Mark decided to lead off with A PRIDE OF LIONS TODAY. His other titles with links follow…

 

 

a-pride-of-lions-book-coverWhen Selena Dillon is caught in an assassination attempt on her planets ruler, she finds herself sentenced to 25 years servitude in mankind’s most feared military force, the Penal Regiments. Much to her surprise she enjoys the harsh military life and is quickly selected for officer training.

But something’s wrong, worlds are falling silent. There’s no cry for help and no warning, just a sudden eerie silence. When a flotilla of ships is despatched to investigate they exit hyperspace to find themselves facing a massive alien armada. Outnumbered and outgunned the flotilla fight a rearguard action, allowing one of their number to slip away and warn mankind.

As worlds fall in battle, and man’s fleets are decimated, Selena is selected to lead a team of the Penal Regiments most battle-hardened veterans, in a last ditch attempt to destroy the aliens’ home world. If she fails then mankind is doomed. But little does Selena know what fate has in store for her, that one of her crew is a psychopathic killer and a second the husband of one of his victims.

Can she hold her team together, get them to their target and succeed in the attack? Selena knows that if she fails then there will be nothing at all left to go home to.

 

Excerpt

There were angry growls from the crowd and the robosec bellowed, “Silence in court!”

A slim dark-haired woman stood up and banged her fist loudly on the wooden barrier in front of her, her face working in fury as she shouted, “This is a farce. If they’d succeeded you’d be giving them medals now, instead of punishing them. This sucks! Everyone here knows that those who should be on trial are the Queen and the Royal Family. They’ve murdered thousands of people, and these guys only tried to rid our planet of that tyrant. They’re heroes, not criminals!”

Selena looked over and grinned broadly, as she recognised her old school chum Linda McKenzie.

Catching her eye, Linda added, “Tell them to shove it up their arse, Selena. You guys did the right thing, and we’re all damn proud of you. Others will try the same thing, you’ll see, and sooner or later someone will succeed and we’ll finally be rid of those murderers.”

“Get that woman out of my court!” the judge roared, watching angrily as guards dragged Linda away, although the audience continued to protest. “The next person who makes any noise will be dragged outside and whipped on the spot!” he bellowed, eyes widening as he glared at them. Gradually silence fell once more.  “However,” continued the judge more collectedly, turning back to the accused and ignoring the rumpus, “it’s in my power to offer you an alternative. We’re currently upgrading the military, as we do from time to time. This allows me to offer you the option of serving in the Penal Regiments, until you either die in their ranks or are discharged after twenty-five years’ service under their terms of contract. You each have three minutes to decide.”

Selena was stunned. None of them had expected this, and in the shocked silence of the courtroom she began to think furiously.  The Penal Regiments! They were the most feared and respected military force in all of humanity. Only the insane or desperate would even contemplate joining their ranks, and those who simply had no other choice.

Those who joined had the details of their previous lives completely erased; it was as if they ceased to exist. They lost their past, family and sometimes even their personalities. If anyone actually survived the duration of their contracts they could have their faces and bodies surgically altered at the cost of the Federation, so that prior enemies and friends wouldn’t recognise them and they could live out their retirement in peace. But that was if they survived that long and very few ever did. However, Selena mused, there were those survivors. Hope glimmered for the first time since the raid.

Suddenly she heard a voice calling for her attention.  “Selena Dillon, your choice?”

The time had gone and the question seemed to come from nowhere, but Selena knew that she had no option. “I choose the Penal Regiments.”

The others of her team turned to stare at her with blank expressions, but she could hear their breath catching in disbelief.   One by one, the others chose martyrdom.   As they were marched off, Sam turned to stare at her in disgust.

She would never forget the look on his face.   Poor Sam, she thought. You just don’t understand, do you? One day, when you’re long gone and nothing remains of you but dust blowing on the wind, our crimes will have been forgotten and I’ll be able to come back. Can’t you see that?

As for me, old friend, I’m already a survivor.

 

OTHER TITLES BY MARK ILES

 

the-cull-of-lionsSelena Dillon and her team return to Loreen after their attack on Mantis, only to find the myriad worlds of Mankind once again plunged into war. As the Penal Regiments are betrayed by the Federation of Man, and fighting spills throughout the galaxy, the dreaded Manta raise their heads once again. Selena soon finds herself trying to track down her friends’ daughter, Hope, from the rabbit holes of Loreen and then fights to free her home planet from alien invaders. While a general amnesty means previous sins are forgiven, the Queen has not forgotten Selena’s attempt on her life. Selena soon finds herself torn between obeying orders to protect the monarch, and her ravening thirst for revenge. But strange forces are stirring amidst the stars and Mankind finds itself with surprising new allies, while a terrifying enemy that’s manipulated events from behind the scenes finally reveals itself for the very first time.

Buy Link

a-connoisure-of-the-bizarreA carful of police officers swerves in the rain to avoid a shadowy figure. Detective Chets Owen and his two companions immediately recognise the local lunatic, O’Neal, but they’re shocked to see a gun in his hand. Then O’Neal mentions that he knows where a missing child is. Does he, or doesn’t he, and is O’Neal really who he seems?

 

Buy Link

 

 

 

 

falling-from-graceHere you’ll find tales of the supernatural, betrayal and murder; the mistakes that lead to the fall of empires and the constant tug of war that haunts mankind. There’s a blend of science fiction, fantasy and horror – from a modern day detective facing a serial killer to a future utopia filled with disloyalty. Lovers of romance will find a little something for them too, but within these bright sparks of hope shades of darkness lurk.

 

Buy Link

 

 

 

distant-shores-book-coverGripping tales from magical tattoos to a time when mankind has been decimated by aliens and the world is run by Androids. From where monsters roam our skies, a little girl waits patiently for Santa one cold Christmas Eve to a world haunted by the ghosts of the slaughtered inhabitants. Read it with the light on!

 

Buy Link

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

kwaks-competition-taekwondo-book-cover

 

 

 

 

 

Buy Link

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

escape-velocityEscape Velocity, the science fiction magazine from Adventure Books of Seattle, was host to some of the most talented writers in the genre. Presented here are many of the best short stories from the magazine, as well as others specially submitted for this collection by authors from around the world. This very unique book contains forty-eight sci-fi stories, such as ‘Scream Quietly’ by Sheila Crosby, ‘Royal Flush,’ by Ian Whates, and Rebecca Latyntseva’s controversial time-travel tale, ‘Red Monkeys’. The stunning cover images only add to what is undoubtably one of the best science fiction collections of the year. Edited by Geoff Nelder of Great Britain and Robert Blevins of the United States.

Goodreads

 

 

About the Author

 

mark-portraitMark works for Southampton University, and also as a freelance writer in many fields including copywriting. His short stories have been published in Back Brain Recluse, Dream, New Moon, Auguries, Haunts, Kalkion, Screaming Dreams, and the anthologies Right To Fight, Escape Velocity, Auguries and Monk Punk. With an 8th Degree Black Belt in Taekwondo he’s also written non-fiction for Combat, Taekwondo & Korean Martial Arts, Fighters, Junk, Martial Arts Illustrated, profwritingacademy.com and calmzone.net.

His first full length work was ‘Kwak’s Competition Taekwondo’, and he also has a short story collection entitled ‘Distant Shores’. His debut novel ‘A Pride of Lions’ was published by Solstice in September 2013 and is the first book in ‘The Darkening Stars’ series. Since ‘Pride’ was published Mark has also had 4 novellas accepted: ‘A Connoisseur of the Bizarre’, ‘Sally Jane’, ‘Nightshade’ and ‘Santa Claws is Coming’.

Having written features and fiction for over 30 years Mark applied to do an MA in Professional Writing. ‘Pride’ had been bouncing around in his head for some time, and he seized the opportunity to produce this first novel as part of the course. Mark says it’s without doubt the best choice he’s ever made, as it really focused him, and that getting this novel Accepted is the perfect conclusion to a wonderful experience. He’s now focusing on the second book in this series, ‘The Cull of Lions’.

 

 

Links

Social Media:

Website: www.markiles.co.uk

Twitter: www.twitter.com/welcometoearth

LinkedIn: http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/mark-iles/33/67a/822

Facebook Author’s Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mark-Iles/279162705557698

Blog: http://markiles.co.uk/the-blog

Amazon Authors Page: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mark-Iles/e/B004YZBP3I/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

 

 

Books:

A Pride of Lions: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Pride-Lions-Darkening-Skies/dp/149425445X

Distant Shores: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Distant-Shores-ebook/dp/B008SD4KOS/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1347182066&sr=1-1

Kwaks Competition Taekwondo: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Kwak%60s-Competition-Taekwondo-Mark-Iles/dp/B000FTHGFI

 

Novellas:

Nightshade: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Nightshade-Mark-Iles-ebook/dp/B00HQOP1BQ

A Connoisseur of the Bizarre: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Connoisseur-Bizarre-Mark-Iles-ebook/dp/B00HQOP54O

Sally Jane: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Jane-Mark-Iles-ebook/dp/B00HQOOZ40

Santa Claws is Coming: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Santa-Claws-Coming-Mark-Iles-ebook/dp/B00HQOP0D0

 

Thanks for dropping by Mark. Be sure to let us know when the WIP goes to press!

— ABF

MONDAY: Please join me in welcoming award-winning cat writer, librarian and Sister in Crime Debbie De Louise, whose third novel A STONE’S THROW is releasing through Solstice Publishing.

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 what we are about 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 this year’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 was trying to do. Solstice gave me the courage to press on through the hard slog that is editing and promoting. Most importantly, they gave me what I needed to keep creating NEW WORK. Thank you Melissa Miller, Kate M. Collins and K.C. Sprayberry for keeping me on task.

Preds and Eds thank youThe PREDITORS & EDITORS Reader’s Poll is my first award and as such my most precious, not just for the validation it gives 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.

Will I try another genre? Most probably, but only if the characters allow 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

FUNKHAUSER SIGNATURE

NEXT UP:  SCOOTER NATION Releasing March 13, 2016 through Solstice Publishing

 

Biography

IMG_20160104_121131A.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 we not it. Her debut novel HEUER LOST AND FOUND, released in April 2015 after five years of studious effort, has inspired four other full length works and over a dozen short stories. SCOOTER NATION, her sophomore effort, is part of her UNAPOLOGETIC LIVES series. Funkhauser is currently working on POOR UNDERTAKER begun during NaNoWriMo 2014.

 

HEUER LOST AND FOUND

Heuer Lost and Found - PrintUnrepentant 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 girl friend with serious denial issues. With her help and the help of a wise cracking 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.

Geo Buy Link: http://myBook.to/heuerlostandfound

Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-C5qBpb0Yc

 

 

PRAISE

“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.”

http://teresanoel.blogspot.ca/2015/05/heuer-lost-and-found-unapologetic-lives

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

—David K. Bryant, Author TREAD CAREFULLY ON THE SEA

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

—Rocky Rochford, Author RISE OF ELOHIM CHRONICLES

“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

LINKS

Website: www.abfunkhauser.com

Scooter Page: https://abfunkhauser.com/wip-scooter-nation/

Podcast:  http://mhefferman.ca/author/podcasts/episode-3-an-interview-with-a-b-funkhauser/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/iamfunkhauser

Facebook: www.facebook.com/heuerlostandfound

Publisher: http://solsticepublishing.com/

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1FPJXcO

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

Email: a.b.funkhauser@rogers.com

Audio Interview:

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

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

 

 

WOOT! WOOT! AUTHORS: SOLSTICE SHADOWS WANTS YOU!

CONTEST

First time authors have a hard time getting their first contract. Many of us have been there and it is discouraging to say the least.  Solstice Publishing has published many first time authors and are actively seeking fresh new writers to add to our Solstice family. Many authors got their foot in the publishing door by writing short stories.  This is a great way for authors to build their catalog while they work on their longer novels. At Solstice, we believe every book has a home. It may or may not be with us but we invite you to see if we’re the right home for your story.

Solstice Shadows publishes Fantasy, SciFi, Paranormal, Horror, and all sub-genres therein.  If you have a short story that falls into one of these genres, we welcome you to read on and consider entering our short story contest.

Official Contest Information:

Solstice Shadows wants to read your short stories!

Do you have a short story collecting dust?  Are you an aspiring author who wants to be published? Are you an established author who is willing to take risks? Are you a self-published author who wants to see what it’s like working with an Indie Publisher?

Solstice Shadows is hosting a short story contest starting June 1st through July 6th  2015.

* Accepted genres: Fantasy, SciFi, Horror, Paranormal, and all sub genres therein. (We do not accept non-fiction/overtly religious stories/pornography)

* Story length: Up to 20K words.

* The story cannot be currently for sale on any platform.

To Submit:

  • solsticepublishing.com/submission
  • Click on ‘Solstice Shadows’
  • Type “Shadows Short Story Submission” in the ‘Title’ box.
  • Your cover letter should tell a little about your story and a little about you.
  • Follow the directions for submitting your story.

Prizes:

1st place – A 3 year contract for the short story, A promotional video highlighting the book and author, and a FB release party hosted by Solstice Publishing.

2nd Place – A 3 year contract for the short story, a promotional video highlighting the book and the author.

3rd Place – A 3 year contract for the short story.

Winners will be notified by August 1st,2015 via email.

How will the stories be judged? Here’s what we’re looking for in no particular order:

  • Submission guidelines followed
  • A social media presence
  • An exciting first scene.
  • A clear and organized plot.
  • Interesting characters.
  • Engaging dialogue.
  • Correct grammar/punctuation
  • A satisfying conclusion to the story
  • A unique voice.

We hope you decide to enter and look forward to reading your stories.  If you have any questions, feel free to email us (solsticeshadows@gmail.com) or catch us on Twitter (@solsticeshadows)

Happy writing!