FUNERAL DIRECTOR AS WRITER

It was my great honor recently to address the Sisters in Crime­ – Toronto Chapter at their monthly meeting this past April. Not only did the experience tease me out of the relative safety of my writing vault, but it also, as a newcomer to the mystery scene, afforded me the opportunity to examine the challenges faced by funeral directors like me who endeavor to write.

It’s an exciting time for funeral directors in Ontario. Legislative changes in force since JulyBAO 1, 2012 continue to filter through the industry; the most recent realized April 1 with the creation of the new Bereavement Authority of Ontario. What this new body will mean for service providers and the client families they serve can only be determined through anecdotal experience. Let these be positive as the spirit behind the changes intend. What it means for me—a purveyor of gonzo, paranormal, mortuary, fiction—is how important it is to tell the story of the industry in a way that is accessible without compromising my duty to protect the deceased person and family he/she leaves behind.

A lot of what a funeral director sees and, indeed, does remains confidential for obvious reasons. Human beings do not stop being human beings with the cessation of breath. In fact, their humanity is heightened, given that their ability to protect themselves from harm is now taken from them. Dignity, privacy and integrity of the individual falls under the purview of the funeral service professionals charged with their care. This is the funeral director’s oath and the writer’s oath as well.

loved one movieIt is not surprising then that confidentiality as a mainstay of funeral service lends itself to broad artistic interpretation. As I revealed at the April 21 Sisters in Crime meeting, it is easy to lampoon/throw rocks at something that cannot defend itself. And yet, examination from unusual quarters can only strengthen the dialogue. There’s a lot of fine satire out there to drive the discussion; some older, but classic pieces like Evelyn Waugh’s THE LOVED ONE and the newer gothic horror AFTER.LIFE whet the public’s appetite to ‘know’ what really goes on.

after.life poster 1

Which is why I turned to gonzo as my genre vehicle of choice when I chose to weigh in not as expose—because I love my industry—but as a spotlight to inform and, yes, entertain those who rarely, if ever, set foot inside a funeral establishment.

Gonzo, as I’ve said before in previous articles, is a kind of first person journalism created and perfected by the late great Hunter S. Thompson of ROLLING STONE fame. Taken off road into fiction, it is both a humorous and slightly subversive means of drawing attention to difficult subjects and making them whole.

Later this month, I will attend professional development seminars at my alma mater. There, I will be brought up to date on the latest innovations in an industry undergoing constant change. I’m looking forward to it. Where there is education, there is dialogue; where there is discussion, there is growth.

Such is the stuff of the journey in both life and art.

Adult, unapologetic and wholly cognizant, I am

FUNKHAUSER SIGNATURE

 

LINKS

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

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

Website: www.abfunkhauser.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/iamfunkhauser

Facebook: www.facebook.com/heuerlostandfound

Branded: https://branded.me/abfunkhauser

Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/u/0/118051627869017397678

Publisher: http://solsticepublishing.com/

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

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

Tumblr: https://www.tumblr.com/blog/unapologeticadult

FAQ’s: https://abfunkhauser.com/faqs/

 

 

 

 

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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

 

 

ROMANCE AUTHOR GILLI ALLAN TALKS ABOUT HER NEW RELEASE AND HAS A GO AT THE PROUSTIAN QUESTIONNAIRE

It’s with great pleasure that I welcome multi talented artist, author Gilli Allan to the blog. As her biography suggests, the road taken was not a direct one, yet it yielded amazing results. A woman after my own heart. Welcome Gilli.

Biography

P1010802 - Copy (2)Gilli Allan started to write in childhood, a hobby only abandoned when real life supplanted the fiction. Gilli didn’t go to Oxford or Cambridge but, after just enough exam passes to squeak in, she attended Croydon Art College.

She didn’t work on any of the broadsheets, in publishing or television. Instead she was a shop assistant, a beauty consultant and a barmaid before landing her dream job as an illustrator in advertising. It was only when she was at home with her young son that Gilli began writing seriously. Her first two novels were quickly published, but when her publisher ceased to trade, Gilli went independent.

Over the years, Gilli has been a school governor, a contributor to local newspapers, and a driving force behind the community shop in her Gloucestershire village.  Still a keen artist, she designs Christmas cards and has begun book illustration. Gilli is particularly delighted to have recently gained a new mainstream publisher – Accent Press. FLY OR FALL is the second book to be published in the three book deal.

 

FLY or FALL

Cover FOFEleanor – known as Nell – thinks of herself as a wimp.  Even though her life has not been easy, she clings to the safety of the familiar. Married young and dependent on her teacher husband’s wage, Nell has stayed at home, in Battersea, with her children and her increasingly invalid mother.  Following the death of her mother the family’s fortunes suddenly change.  Trevor, is wildly enthusiastic about their ‘move up in the world’; he plans to give up teaching and move house away from London.  Nell, however, is gripped by a nebulous fear of some unknown disaster waiting to trip them all up, but her husband, steamrollers her objections.

Now in her early thirties, and living in an unfamiliar landscape away from old friends, Nell feels cast adrift.  She is increasingly aware that Trevor is no longer the man she married, and their young teenage twins, Jonathan and Juliet, are grumpy and difficult. The women she meets, Felicity and Katherine, seem shallow and promiscuous. The new house is unwelcoming and needs modernisation; she’s thrust into a continuing chaos of rubble and renovation.  Patrick, one of the men working for the building firm, is infamous as a local Lothario, but he doesn’t make a pass at her. At first she’s grateful – she’s not that kind of woman – but her feelings towards him grow increasingly confused and ambivalent.

When Nell takes a bar job at the local sports club, she is exposed to an overheated atmosphere of flirtation and gossip. Influenced by her new friends and the world in which she now moves, she begins to blossom and to take pleasure in the possibilities which seem to be opening up for her. She meets and forms a deeper friendship with the quirky, new-age Elizabeth, a very different character to her other friends.  As Nell begins to enjoy herself and to become enthusiastic about her life, it seems her husband is on a downward trajectory, on the opposite end of a cosmic seesaw.  When she is pursued by a beautiful and enigmatic young man, called Angel, she is tempted into behaviour she would never previously have imagined herself capable. The earthquake, felt as a tremor of apprehension at the start of the story, rumbles through her life and the lives of those around her.  When the dust settles nothing is as she previously understood it.

FLY OR FALL follows the dismantling of all of Nell’s certainties, her preconceptions and her moral code. Unwelcome truths about her friends, her husband, her teenage children and even herself are revealed.  Relationships are not what they seem. The hostility between brothers is exposed and finally explained. And the love that blossoms unexpectedly from the wreckage of her life is doomed, as she acknowledges the hair’s breadth between wishful thinking, self-deception and lies.

By the conclusion of FLY OR FALL everything has altered for Nell, the woman who doesn’t like change. But she has rebuilt herself as a different person, a braver person, and she has embarked with optimism on a totally transformed life, a life that offers the chance of love.

Deep into her book tour, Gilli took time to answer The Proustian Questionnaire…

Proustian Questionnaire Image BIG

What are your thoughts on muses and do you have one?

 

I don’t have an external muse as in an ideal or mythical individual who inspires me.  In my understanding, the muse is more associated with visual artists or poets.  But I will try to answer this by offering a fictional muse.

When I was fifteen I read Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment.  I can’t now say whether this confirmed in me a predilection I already had, or was the original spur to the direction of my writing. The main protagonist of the story, Rodion Raskolnikov, is an impoverished student with a Napoleon complex. Believing that greatness in an individual elevates him above the normal constraints of humanity, Raskolnikov murders a couple of unpleasant, money-lending old crones, partly to steal from them and partly to prove his theory. If he is great, he can do this without guilt or remorse.  But extremes of guilt and remorse then pursue and torture him for the rest of the book.

I have never written about an axe wielding hero who feels impelled to prove his superiority in so drastic a fashion! But I have always been fascinated by the tortured or damaged hero. Over and over again I have given my main male protagonist guilt and pain from some unresolved misdeed or loss in his past.  Raskolnikov has a lot to answer for.

Characters have a great capacity to love, yet they’re starved. Why do you think this happens in fiction and in real life?

 

A lot of people are self-defeating when it comes to love.  I know I was when I was young.   At heart I think I was frightened of a relationship with a real, flesh and blood man, so I only ever set my sights on men who were unavailable to me. They were either gay, already engaged or married, or were womanisers who already had a bevy of more sophisticated, glamorous and experienced girlfriends.  Added to this, I only ever fell for men who were very attractive and, despite being asked, refused to go out with those who fell short of my ideal, so I further limited the options open to me.

In fiction it is far more interesting to follow characters who fail to find love until the final pages – to follow their ups and downs, and their travails. If they meet near the beginning of the book, realise they are in love and consummate their passion straight away, where is the story?

 

Without giving spoilers, would you say you’re a “happy ending” writer?

 

I already had two books mainstream published when I joined the Romantic Novelists Association (the British equivalent of the Romance Writers of America).  The RNA is a broad church; it covers a very wide range of women’s fiction from historical, through category romance and chick-lit, to erotica.  Even though the membership writes in a wide variety of different traditions, it is very clear that the great majority of readers – and writers – of romantic fiction prefer the ‘Happy Ever After’ resolution to a story.  Readers can feel cheated, and even become angry (and leave bad reviews!) if they are disappointed.

When I started out, my understanding of all this was pretty close to zero, but I wanted to be published. In my first book, Just Before Dawn, I followed many of the tropes of romantic fiction – including the HEA. Because I found a publisher swiftly for that book, I blithely felt ‘let off the leash’ when I came to start my second novel. In Desires & Dreams I simply wrote the story that was unfolding in my imagination, and I’m afraid I killed off my hero.  I still say there was no way he could have survived. To stay true to the story and the characters, he had to commit suicide. But it was not an entirely doom laden ending.  There was the strong implication that my heroine would grow, and become more independent and proactive about the direction her life was taking.  I still defend my belief that that book WAS a love story and, more importantly … my publisher loved it!

Since those days, and knowing what I now know, I have never been so cavalier.  I do not write the flurry of confetti and wedding bells type of ending, and my stories might not resolve exactly as every reader wants them to, but they are upbeat and offer the chance of future happiness.

 

If you could dine with any historical figure living or dead, who would it be and why?

 

I write contemporary relationship fiction, but I’ve always been fascinated by Richard III. He would be my guest and I’d feed him a dose of truth drug in his dinner so that I could get the ‘once and for all’ low-down on what really happened to the princes in the Tower.

Past, present or future? Where does your mind dwell?

 

Although I have a good visual memory, my memory is poor for facts and figures, names and dates. I don’t dwell much in the past. I envy those who can call up the detail of past adventures, and match faces to the names of old schoolmates, teachers and colleagues.  I recall the headline facts of my life and, of course, there are individuals who stand out, but I can’t relive past events in any detail.  That is one aspect of ageing I’m quite looking forward to. I hope to be able to call up passages from my life that at the moment are lost to me, or are only an impressionistic blur.

I do sometimes worry that I wish my life away. I don’t absorb and enjoy ‘the now’ sufficiently.

So I have to admit that I am always thinking to the future. What if….? What next….?   Supposing…?

What informs your writing most?

 

The best way I can answer you is to try and explain why I write what I write.   When I first started down this road, I was driven by the desire to write the story I wanted to read.  I was ten and ‘my book’, written in a small form notepad, copiously illustrated, was only a few pages long.  In my teenage years YA books did not exist and writing the book I wanted to read was the driving force that continued to impel me.

Now I read across a range of genres and I can find lots of books I enjoy – but there is still a gap (fortunately a narrowing gap) in women’s fiction.  I enjoy contemporary fiction with a developing love story at its heart, and this is what I write, but I need something broader and more involving than the central relationship.  In my own writing I try to honestly reflect the world I live in. Relationships are not straightforward – there are problems and issues which can challenge the most committed relationship.

To paraphrase the original blurb from my book TORN, I like to face up to the complexities, messiness and absurdities in modern relationships.  Life is not a fairy tale; it can be confusing and difficult. Sex is not always awesome; it can be awkward and embarrassing, and it has consequences. You don’t always fall for Mr Right, even if he falls for you. And realising you’re in love is not always good news.

In the Seventies, school kids were encouraged to think globally and act locally. Have you ever flirted with this philosophy?

 

I’m not much of a joiner and I can’t say I was particularly active in any way. I was aware very early of the ecological problems the world faces, and the over-use of the world’s resources. On the local level, I hate litter and have been known to pick it up when I’m on a walk and bring it home to dispose of.  I’m tolerant and broadminded and hate religious, sexual or race prejudice.  I stood with a crowd outside the South African embassy in London once, to protest against apartheid and wouldn’t buy South African produce.  I supported Women’s Liberation but never actively campaigned for it.

Guilty pleasures: we all have them. What is yours?

 

When I was young my guilty pleasure was definitely pickles. Preferably pickled onions or the sour ‘cocktail’ type gherkins. And mustard pickle came in a close second behind those two. Pickles were a guilty pleasure because I would help myself to whatever was in the larder when I was at home on my own.  I would even concoct what I called a pickle mess – a helping from every jar of pickles, sauces, vinegar, mayo and ketchup. Sounds revolting now, but I liked it.

Reading the books of Ethel M Dell – English Edwardian lady novelist, who is arguably the first ‘romance writer’. They are very very funny.

Through my young adulthood I was always trying to lose weight.  I don’t have a very sweet tooth, but the moment I embarked on a diet I instantly craved doughnuts – all varieties – cream, jam, custard et al.

Now, I suppose, it is alcohol. I am always trying to drink a little less and feel vaguely guilty when I don’t stick to the new regime I’ve set myself.

Your greatest victory?

 

Having my son. I lost two babies before he arrived. So that was a momentous event, one I had to work at – a surgical intervention, a long period of hospitalisation and then living very quiet life.

Second to that is having the first novel I ever completed, published.

Tell us about the one that got away. Person, place or thing.

 

Different aspects of the ones that got away appear in every one of my books. More than that I’m not prepared to say.

What are some of the overriding themes in your work? Do you have a favorite?

 

I think this is answered in the above questions.

Who do you admire and why?

Nan, Pops & my mumAn impossible question.  I could name so many, Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, Emily Pankhurst, but they all sound a bit pious.  So I’m going to plump for my own ‘cockney’ grandmother, who we all called Nan.  Louisa Jane Routley was a small woman, but she was feisty and she was determined; in other words, a force to be reckoned with.

Born into a working class family in the east end of London, she wasn’t from a totally impoverished background but she had a poor and humble beginning in life.  She was her father’s only child; he died in the Boer war before her birth in 1899 and her mother then married his brother. Nan’s memories of her stepfather were of a man who became violent and abusive when drunk. She had several younger half brothers and sisters.

She was fourteen, when her eighteen year old boyfriend, Jim Kelsey, went to fight in WW1.  He was fortunate to be wounded badly enough to be invalided home from the Somme, but not so badly he didn’t make a full recovery. After recuperating, he spent the rest of the war in Ireland. They married and doubtless at her instigation, my grandfather (Pops) joined the Post Office – a respectable white collar job.  This was the beginning of their move up in the world. They married and had two daughters – the eldest, my mother – and moved house twice, to finally settle in the respectable outer London suburb of Orpington. She was the only one from her generation in the family, to manage this step up out of the class she’d been born into.

Nan’s incredible drive, energy and ambition were something to admire. Her house was always spotless.  Pops loved his garden, and Nan cooked, pickled, bottled and made jam. My salivary glands still respond when I think of her steak and kidney pudding and her apple pie. She was widowed when she was only in her 60s. Although devastated by the death of her quiet, kind, and dependable husband, she went on to live another 35 years, until she was nearly 104, still in possession of her faculties and of her fiery and indomitable spirit.

Are writers fully formed works of art or works in progress?

 

Definitely works in progress, I also believe that writers are born not made. In my view, having been put on this earth with the impulse to write is not the same as being a good writer. You may have the embryonic instincts and drive to tell stories, but you have to work at your craft. I know I am an immeasurably better writer now than I was when I had my first book published.

For more Gilli, check out her LINKS:

http://twitter.com/gilliallan  (@gilliallan)

https://www.facebook.com/GilliAllan.AUTHOR

http://gilliallan.blogspot.co.uk/

Books:

If you want it, I’m including the link to

TORN MyBook.to/gilliallansTORN (universal) or

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Torn-Gilli-Allan-ebook/dp/B00R1FQ1QE)

FLY OR FALL- myBook.to/GilliAllan (universal)

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Fly-Fall-Gilli-Allan-ebook/dp/B00XXZJ43S/

SPOTLIGHT APRIL KELLEY

TARNISHED COVER Violence has always solved most of his problems, but it can’t help him win over a man whose whole life is surrounded by things that scare him.

Brad Flynn had a rough start to life. With an abusive father and an addiction problem, his life hasn’t been easy. He has always been the resident bad ass and the town drunk. Even when he gets sober and becomes an upstanding member of the community it doesn’t seem to change the town’s mind about him. If it weren’t for his two brothers he would have no one.

His past doesn’t make having a love life easy either, but when he meets Kendrick Ashby, the local bar own, he wants to give it a try. The only problem is Kendrick has his own problems, ones that make having a violent boyfriend impossible. Both have to decide if dating is even worth a try.

EXCERPTKendrick didn’t even bother to knock on the door. He just walked into the house like he owned the place. Caden looked up at him from his seat on the couch with raised eyebrows, but didn’t say a word about him barging into a house that wasn’t his. It was almost as if Caden expected him just to walk in, which was weird.

“Oh good, you’re here. I have some ribs I need you to show me how to cook,” Caden said.

“Okay. But where’s your brother?”

“Luis isn’t home from work yet.” Caden grinned at him.

Kendrick glared. “Smartass. I meant you’re older brother.”

“Luis is my older brother.”

“Caden.” Kendrick took a step closer to him.

Caden chuckled with delight. “God, you’re so touchy. It’s going to be fun having you around.”

“Don’t forget. You need my help with those ribs.”

“Fine. He’s in the shower.”

Kendrick walked down the hall and knocked on the bathroom door when he came to it.

“Come in. Again. You pee more than anyone I know, boy.”

Kendrick sat on the closed toilet seat and gathered up his courage to speak. The fact that Brad was okay was a relief. For some insane reason Kendrick couldn’t understand, he really thought Brad was going to hurt himself. Beyond sounding annoyed with Caden—who could blame Brad—he was unharmed. Kendrick sighed and silently thanked God for that fact.

“I don’t like being hung up on,” He finally said, because that was annoying. If this relationship was going to work then he really needed to be more assertive.

Something crashed down on the tub floor. It sounded like a shampoo or conditioner bottle. “Ouch. Shit.” Brad said.

“Are you okay?”

“Fine. What are you doing here?” Brad said, sounding even more irritated and surly.

“I wanted to make sure you’re okay.”

“I’m just fine. Can I have a shower by myself now?”

Okay that was it. Kendrick had enough with the attitude. Kendrick quickly stripped off his clothes and pulled back the shower curtain. He stepped in behind Brad. Brad whipped around when Kendrick entered. “No. You can’t.”

“Jesus Christ, Kendrick.”

 LINKS

Buy Now: http://www.extasybooks.com/A-Tarnished-Strength/

Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.com/Tarnished-Strength-Pickleville-Book-ebook/dp/B00XMCQRZK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1431687180&sr=8-1&keywords=a+tarnished+strength

About the Author

April lives with her husband and two kids in Southwest Michigan.  She has been an avid reader for several years.  Writing her first story at the age of ten, the characters in her head still won’t stop telling their stories.  If April isn’t reading or writing she can be found outside playing with the animals or taking a long walk in the woods.

Email : authoraprilkelley@gmail.com

Website : http://authoraprilkelley.com

Best of luck to April Kelley in her endeavours. Stop by anytime.

Best, ABF

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/

Heuer Lost and Found Banner 540 x 200

HEUER LOST AND FOUND: THE EXCERPT

“Come with me, and I will show you worlds.”

 

At last, HEUER LOST AND FOUND is ready to go with presales beginning March 26 to the launch on April 23rd on Amazon. It’s been a long, exciting journey marked with encouragement and a lot of learning. I’ve made so many friends along the way, so much so that I owe this space and the people that help fill it a special nod all their own. In the coming days, I’ll be talking up my ladies in the Brooklin 7, my incredible sister and authorly inspiration Cryssa Bazos, and long time friends Gilda Heinrich Rousseau and Suzanne Fairbrass Stacey. I will also pay homage to the crew at the Wine Rack, the guys on the Canadian Poncho Car site, and the amazing staff at the Pickering Metro; all of whom make stepping out the door an adventure. Thank you. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Solstice Publishing, it’s staff—who are also writers—and the amazing authors I’ve grown close to as a member of the Solstice Family. All in due time. Today, is for every person I’ve spoken to who expressed interest in HEUER LOST AND FOUND. I owe you an excerpt.

Chapter Two

Two Weeks Ago

The house, like the man who lived in it, was remarkable: a 1950s clapboard-brick number with a metal garage door that needed serious painting. Likewise, the windows, which had been replaced once in the Seventies under some home improvement program, then never again. They were wooden and they were cracked, allowing wasps and other insects inside.

This was of little consequence to him.

The neighbors, whom Heuer prodigiously ignored, would stare at the place. Greek, Italian, and house proud, they found the man’s disdain for his own home objectionable. He could see it on their faces when he looked out at them through dirty windows.

To hell with them.

If the neighbors disapproved of the moss green roof with its tar shingles that habitually blew off, then let moet_champagne_partythem replace it. Money didn’t fall from the sky and if it did, he wouldn’t spend it on improvements to please strangers.

They were insects.

And yet there were times when Jürgen Heuer was forced to compromise. Money, he learned, could solve just about anything. But not where the willful and the pernicious were concerned. These, once singled out, required special attention.

Alfons Vermiglia, the Genovese neighbor next door, had taken great offense to his acacia tree, a towering twenty-five foot behemoth that had grown from a cutting given to him by a lodge brother. The acacia was esteemed in Masonic lore appearing often in ritual, rendering it so much more than just mere tree. In practical terms, it provided relief, offering shade on hot days to the little things beneath it. And it bloomed semi-annually, whimsically releasing a preponderance of white petals that carried on the wind mystical scent—the same found in sacred incense and parfums.

What horseshit.

It was a dirty son of a bitch of a tree that dropped its leaves continuously from spring to fall, shedding tiny branches from its diffident margins. These were covered in nasty little thorns that damaged vinyl pool liners and soft feet alike. They also did a pretty amazing job of clogging Alfons’ pool filter, turning his twenty-five hundred gallon toy pool green overnight.

This chemistry compromised the neighbor’s pleasure and it heightened his passions, blinding Alfons to the true nature of his enemy. He crossed over onto Heuer’s property and drove copper nails into the root system. It was an old trick, Byzantine in its treachery; the copper would kill the tree slowly over time leading no one to suspect foul play.

weird vistaBut Heuer was cagey and suspicious by nature, so when the tree displayed signs of failure, he knew where to look.

The acacia recovered and Alfons said nothing. Heuer planted aralia—the “Devil’s Walking Stick”—along the fence line and this served as an even thornier reminder that he knew. And if there was any doubt at all, he went further by coating his neighbor’s corkscrew hazel with a generous dose of Wipe Out.

Intrusive neighbors and their misplaced curiosities were, by turns, annoying and amusing and their interest, though unwanted, did not go unappreciated. The Greeks on the other side of him weren’t combative in the least and they offered gardening advice whenever they caught him out of doors. The man, Panos, talked politics and cars, and expressed interest in the vehicle that sat shrouded and silent on Heuer’s driveway. He spoke long and colorfully about the glory days of Detroit muscle cars and how it all got bungled and bargained away.

Detroit GTO“They sacrificed an industry to please a bunch of big mouths in Hollywood,” Panos would rant in complete disregard for history: Al Gore and Global Warming didn’t kill the GTO; the OPEC oil crisis did. But there was no point in telling him that.

Panos was an armchair car guy and incurable conspiracy theorist. He also kept to his side of the fence, unlike his wife, Stavroula, who was driven by natural instinct. Not content to leave an unmarried man alone, she routinely crossed Heuer’s weedy lawn, banging on the door with offers of food and a good housecleaning.

Heuer had no trouble accepting her cooking. But he declined her brush and broom. Was it kindness, or was she trying to see inside? He suspected the latter.

No one was ever seen entering Heuer’s house and while this piqued public interest, he never gave in, not even to those who were kind to him. He liked Panos and Stavroula and he regretted poisoning their cat.

But not enough to let them in to his home.

Others on the street had less contact with him. Canvassers at election time would disturb him, in spite of the lawn sign warning the solicitous away. That this didn’t apply to neighbor kids brave enough to pedal cookies and magazine subscriptions in spite of the sign, was a testament, perhaps, to some residual soft spot in his heart that endured.

Even so, he knew that people talked about him and, frankly, he had trouble accounting for their fascination. Short, curt, bespectacled, he courted an ethos that favored enforced detachment. When people got close enough to hear him speak, they detected a trace of an accent. Now faded after years of U.S. residency, his speech still bore the unmistakable patterns of someone undeniably foreign. Elaborate, overwrought and heavy on the adverbs, he spoke very much like his neighbors. Yet the distance between them was incalculable…

***

Day 1: Post Mortem

Heuer shook his head, finding it especially odd that he would think of such things at this particular moment. The circumstances, after all, were beyond peculiar. Coming out of thick, dense fog, standing upright, looking wildly around, and having difficulty comprehending, the last thing that should trouble him was human relations.

The man on the floor would have agreed, had he not lacked the resources to speak.

Heuer canvassed his surroundings. The room, still dark, the shades drawn, and the plants Stavroula forced on him, wilted and dry, bespoke of an unqualified sadness. His computer, left on and unattended, buzzed pointlessly in the corner, its screen saver, a multi-colored Spirograph montage, interspersed with translucent images of faceless Bond girls, twisting ad infinitum for an audience of none.

Back StairWhat happened here?

The bottle of Johnnie Black lay open and empty on the bedroom floor, along with a pack of Marlboro’s, gifts from an old friend. The desk chair lay on its side, toppled, in keeping with the rest of the room. His bed sheets were twisted, the pillows on the floor, and there were stains on the walls; strange residues deposited over time representing neglect and a desire to tell.

He looked down at his hands. They kept changing; the veins, wavy, rose and fell like pots of worms.

Trippy.

There was no evidence of eating, however, and this was really weird, for it was in this room that Heuer lived. Flat screens, mounted on the ceiling and on the desktop, kept him in line with the world outside in ways that papers could not. Screens blasted twenty-four and seven with their talking heads and CNN, whereas papers were flat and dirty, suitable only for the bottoms of bird cages. He cancelled the dailies first and then the weeklies, seeing no value whatever in printed words.

Pictures were another matter. Several in paint and charcoal and sepia covered the walls and floors. He loved them all, and he stared at them for hours when he pondered. His beer fridge, humidor, and model rocket collection completed him; housing the things he loved, all within perfect reach.

His senses, though dulled, honed in on a scent, distant yet familiar, coming from inside the room. It was bog-like-foul like a place he’d visited long ago, buried under wood ash. He frowned.

What was the last thing he ate? Did he cook or go for takeout? He wanted to go down to the kitchen to check, but found, to his astonishment, that he could not get past the doorframe into the outer hall.

Nein, das kann nicht sein!—Now this is not right!—he fumed, switching to German. He would do this whenever he encountered static. The spit and sharp of it forced people back because they could not understand what he meant.

Unballing his fists he felt his chest, registering the sensation of “feel”—he could feel “touch,” but he could not locate the beating heart. Consciously knitting his brows, he considered other bodily wants, his legal mind checking and balancing the laws of nature against the laws of the impossible. He could not, for example, feel “hunger” and he wasn’t dying for a drink either.

Was this a mark of passage into the nether? The man on the floor had no comment.

He thought about his bowels and if they needed attention, but that, to his great relief, no longer appeared to matter. Regularity, in recent years, wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. When he was young, he reveled in a good clean out after the morning coffee because it reset his clock and established the tone for the rest of the day. Not so latterly. His prostate had kept its promise, letting him down, enlarging, pressing where it ought naught. Awake most nights, he lost sleep and dreams.

With this in mind, he bounced up and down on the soles of his expensive shoes in an effort to confirm if he was awake or not. Perhaps he was sleepwalking, or heading off to the can for another urinary evacuation that wouldn’t come?

The man on the floor ruled out these options.

He tried the door again, and again, to his dismay, he could not leave.

What to do? What to do?

‘I think, therefore I am,’ went the popular saying, but what good was ‘being’ when one was confined to a bedroom like a rat in a cage?

He struggled to remain calm, just as he became aware of that heavy oppressive feeling one gets before receiving bad news. Pacing back and forth across the ancient floorboards in the house he was born into, he checked for the kinds of incriminating evidence the court of public opinion would hold against him once found. Pornography, loaded handguns, too many candy wrappers all had to be dispatched before someone inevitably broke the door down.

As light turned to dark and day gave over into night, Heuer’s thoughts came faster and faster, in different languages, interspersed with corrugated images, accompanied by generous doses of Seventies rock; a fitting sound track for the old life, now ended.

He fell to his knees. Somewhere in this mélange was something to be grateful for and with time, he was sure, he would figure out what that single, great, thing might be. For now, all he could really do was take comfort in the fact that his death had been perfect.

***

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

Definitely see the NEW ONE

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

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

BUY LINKS:

Preorder Link: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=ntt_athr_dp_sr_1?_encoding=UTF8&field-author=A.B.%20Funkhauser&search-alias=digital-text&sort=relevancerank

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

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

Thank you. 🙂

Radio Funkhauser, Part Deux

The nascent author discusses funeral parloring, Six Feet Under, lasting friendships and never looking back in part 2 of her first ever radio interview for 102.7 FM Whistle Radio Stouffville. Woot! Woot!