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

 

 

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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

Polaris Missile A3

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*

 

 

REMEMBERING HER FATHER, AUTHOR VICKI-ANN BUSH

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.

V__C3FF

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.

Bless.

ABF