I’ve known A.B. Funkhauser for many years, and to say that she’s as gonzo as her characters is to get it wrong. Sure, she gravitates to larger than life characters on the page and in the public eye, but she appreciates the contemplative too. Claiming to be an “introverted extrovert” she relies on her characters to do all the heavy lifting, to do the things she’d never dream of doing in real life. Her latest work, SHELL GAME, is no exception. Here, characters stay behind closed doors, preferring to spy on one another through windows under cover of night. Interaction appears limited, but is it really? When they aren’t questioning themselves and the motivations of others, they take cues from a black cat that may or may not have real supernatural abilities. Everything is subjective, including what the omniscient narrator chooses to share when and where.
A.B., let’s talk about SHELL GAME, shall we?
Since your publishing date was announced, you’ve been all over social media. Do you love it, or hate it?
A. B. Funkhauser:
I hear writers talking about promotions a lot; how it sparks their creative juices, how it saps their energy, how it calls them out and maybe forces them to be more “in your face” than they would normally like to be. And I agree. But promotion goes hand in glove with writing ‘The Book,’ and so it’s a must. There’s a great deal of competition in the writing world. There’s a lot of competition in anything that’s worthwhile. For me, chatting up SHELL GAME is equal parts excitement and self-interest; exciting for me because I’ve completed another project successfully and delivered it to market; self-interest because who else will know about it if I don’t say so?
I also notice you tagging yourself as a multi-genre author. What’s up with that? You turning in your gonzo badge?
No! Never. But the characters ultimately set the tone, and the people of SHELL GAME are conniving, dastardly, sympathetic and very often contrite. They can’t help it, really. That’s why they need the cats. My hero Carlos is renowned for his quiet, stolid ability to be where he needs to be, affecting certain outcomes because of it. He’s quite brilliant.
At the same time, this piece tilts more in the direction of satire and social commentary in the sense that while the humans are behaving outside of the usual boundaries assigned western society, there is still a moral conscience at play that makes them question their actions. This makes them a little less mendacious than the characters in SCOOTER NATION, for example. They are still capable of doing harm, but this time they feel really bad about it.
Where did that come from?
An event in real time, actually. I hadn’t intended to write a cat book and I’ve gone on about that on this blog and others. I wanted to tuck into the prequel to HEUER LOST AND FOUND, which currently sits at a tantalizing 89,000 words with no end in sight. (I did figure out the ending half way through SHELL GAME, and if I can pull it off it will be quite diabolical.) But like the opening paragraphs of SHELL GAME, I did receive a snarky letter from Animal Control that specifically mentioned the street I live on. I wasn’t the only person on the street to get it—it was a blind drop—but I did take it very personally. The cat I share with a neighbor had brought so much joy into my life and the lives of my family that the faceless person(s) behind the letter threatening his freedom and my pocketbook just infuriated me. The $5,000 fine for not keeping the kitty inside was either a deterrent or tax grab—popular where I live—and the intrusion could only be answered through a ragin’ fiction that sees the cats win for a change. Of course, I can see both sides to the argument for keeping cats indoors in urban areas, and I’m happy to report that my shared kitty spends far more time indoors. But that’s owing to his age and the natural order of things, not from some crummy letter from a human in an office.
And SHELL GAME, like SCOOTER NATION, features characters from many different ethnicities. Is this your response to the current debate on cultural appropriation?
Ha! That’s a minefield and I’m not stepping into it until I have all the information. From the gonzo side of the street, my read of the issue is that writers should keep to their own pasture so as to be authentic. If that’s true, then all I can really write about are past middle-aged straight white human females and that would be a shame. It would be boring for me to write, and boring for anyone else to read.
But, research, foreknowledge, personal history and cumulative story-telling must play a big part in any writing project if the characters are to ring true and shine. To know what we’re on about—that’s our job—and that’s pretty much all I can say about this topic until I learn more.
So, what’s SHELL GAME about?
Oh, that. Lol. Well, I always say that I don’t really know for sure until some reviews come in and I get a few interviews under my belt. The best I can say right now is that it’s about a cat, a community, unwanted change, and the mechanisms employed to cope with this change that result in positive and negative resolutions. Change, I believe, cannot be stopped, but it can be messed with, and with these characters you will see activities that are silly AND life threatening. That’s the gonzo element. But there’s a love element to it as well. And of course, the cats are at the center of things, calling the plays, controlling things, just like they’ve done for millennia.
As a ‘thank you’ to everyone who ever believed in my crazy plan to quit work and write full time, I’m offering SHELL GAME for FREE for the first three days of it’s release. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! ❤
Toronto born author A.B. Funkhauser is a funeral director, classic car nut and wildlife enthusiast living in Ontario, Canada. Like most funeral directors, she is governed by a strong sense of altruism fueled by the belief that life chooses us, not we it.
Her debut novel Heuer Lost and Found, released in April 2015, examines the day to day workings of a funeral home and the people who staff it. Winner of the Preditors & Editors Reader’s Poll for Best Horror 2015, and the New Apple EBook Award 2016 for Horror, Heuer Lost and Found is the first installment in Funkhauser’s Unapologetic Lives series. Her sophomore effort, Scooter Nation, released March 11, 2016 through Solstice Publishing. Winner of the New Apple Ebook Award 2016 for Humor, and Winner Best Humor Summer Indie Book Awards 2016, Scooter picks up where Heuer left off, this time with the lens on the funeral home as it falls into the hands of a woeful sybarite.
A devotee of the gonzo style pioneered by the late Hunter S. Thompson, Funkhauser attempts to shine a light on difficult subjects by aid of humorous storytelling. “In gonzo, characters operate without filters, which means they say and do the kinds of things we cannot in an ordered society. Results are often comic, but, hopefully, instructive.”
Funkhauser is currently working on THE HEUER EFFECT, the prequel to HEUER LOST AND FOUND.
About the Interviewer
Cryssa Bazos is a member of the Romantic Novelist Association, the Historical Novel Society, the Writers’ Community of Durham Region and the Battle of Worcester Society. Her articles and short stories have been featured in various publications, both in Canada and the UK. She is a co-editor and contributor of the English Historical Fiction Authors site and blogs as the 17th Century Enthusiast. Her debut novel, Traitor’s Knot, placed 3rd in Romance for the Ages in 2016 (Ancient/Medieval/Renaissance).
“A thrilling historical adventure expertly told.” – Carol McGrath, bestselling author of The Handfasted Wife
England 1650: Civil War has given way to an uneasy peace in the year since Parliament executed King Charles I.
Royalist officer James Hart refuses to accept the tyranny of the new government, and to raise funds for the restoration of the king’s son, he takes to the road as a highwayman.
Elizabeth Seton has long been shunned for being a traitor’s daughter. In the midst of the new order, she risks her life by sheltering fugitives from Parliament in a garrison town. But her attempts to rebuild her life are threatened, first by her own sense of injustice, then by falling in love with the dashing Hart.
The lovers’ loyalty is tested through war, defeat and separation. James must fight his way back to the woman he loves, while Elizabeth will do anything to save him, even if it means sacrificing herself.
Traitor’s Knot is a sweeping tale of love and conflicted loyalties set against the turmoil of the English Civil War.
It’s been a privilege getting to know the incredibly talented author Angela D’Onofrio this past year. Ang and I met, like so many authors do, through the #Twitterverse, striking up a fast and growing friendship. As the creator of #2bitTues, a hashtag of influence, Ang inspired me to create my own #Thurds Words. Both tags appeal to writers, bloggers and poets with that one thing in common: a desire to express and share.
Ang’s first novel FROM THE DESK OF BUSTER HEYWOOD is a fascinating fish out of water tale with a twist: the unsavory thing in the trunk is the ticket to belonging. Winner 2nd Prize “Thriller” 2016 Summer Indie Book Awards (Metamorph Publishing), she is full of energy, releasing earlier this month, her sophomore effort IN THE CARDS. Aviario, Connecticut will never be the same! Congrats, Ang.
This past summer, Ang did an amazing thing, posting on her blog, an awesome compare/contrast piece of my two books. In it, SCOOTER NATION and HEUER LOST AND FOUND are examined closely, and I was blown away by her observations.
With Ang’s permission, I am reproducing her piece here with the hope that I can do a similar piece for her very soon!
Thanks, again, friend, for your tips, your generosity and your commitment to this thing we do called writing.
Or: unsolicited reviews of A.B. Funkhauser’s first two novels…
Those of you who have been following my blog for a while will remember A.B. Funkhauser’s name, as she was kind enough to interview me back in February about From the Desk of Buster Heywood. At that time, I had already read her debut novel, Heuer Lost and Found, and known I’d found a new favorite author. Funkhauser’s Unapologetic Lives series follows the surprisingly zany ins and outs of the Weibigand Funeral Home. I was expecting eclectic humor on par with Carl Hiassen and Christopher Moore … I got that, and far more.
The lost Heuer in question is Jürgen Heuer, a lawyer whose life was about as unapologetic as anyone’s can get. Rude, lewd, and thoroughly self-serving, Heuer despises his neighbors and alienates his colleagues. So when he dies in an apartment that would make episodes of “Hoarders” look tame, it takes a good, long while for anyone to notice he is missing… much to Heuer’s dismay, as his spirit still remains, kicking around the apartment and forced to come to terms with the life he lived.
When Weibigand’s is hired to handle Heuer’s preparation and funeral, mortician Enid Krause is sent to the scene with her co-worker, Carla, and has a nasty shock: Heuer was a lover in a summer long ago, and she had put him far out of her mind. Now she must be intimate with him again, in ways she would not have imagined… and Heuer’s spirit has his chance to redeem himself.In introducing her readers to the Weibigand home and its denizens, Funkhauser makes it plain from the very start that her funeral directors, embalmers, and owners are very real people, and just as prone to the same sort of drama as any workplace: scheming Jocasta Binns hopes to gain control of the family business from her half-brothers, manager Charlie strives to hold it all together with a little of the old-school decorum, and Carla Blue is navigating her fair share of relationship issues, while finding solace in her friendship with the funeral home’s resident rat. Oh, and then there’s the fact that Heuer’s spirit finds its guru in a possessed floor lamp…
There is something for everyone in this novel: romance, drama, and suspense are all interlaced into what Funkhauser has aptly dubbed a gonzo style of novel writing. Anything goes, and almost everything does, told by a narrator who is as unapologetic as her characters: matter-of-fact, even as she’s winking at you and nudging you in the ribs. Every single character is fully developed, and you will fall in love with all of them – even those you love to hate… and yes, even the floor lamp. (I’m not kidding. That lamp is pretty fantastic.)
With a little bit of horror, just a dash of magical realism, and a lot of heart and humor, Heuer Lost and Found teaches us that there is beauty to be found everywhere, as long as we still have the will and the eye to look … and that it is never, ever too late for a soul to redeem itself.
Scooter Nation brings us ahead in time, to a year after the events of Heuer Lost & Found. Carla and Enid have both recovered as much as they can from what they endured, and have been joined at Weibigand’s by Carla’s old friend Scooter Creighton. I think that “old coot” would be the most fitting label for Scooter, and I apply it in as endearing a manner as possible.
The scheme Jocasta Binns has been brewing comes to full fruition: the funeral home is sold out of its generational ownership to a chain, and the repercussions of the sale shake every member of the Weibigand’s staff to its core. The more liberties Jocasta takes with the home, the more her employees fight to keep their own integrity intact… and eventually, desperate times call for desperate measures.
Weibigand’s isn’t the only place having trouble with its status quo, however: a gang of motorized scooter owners is becoming more and more vociferous about their right to full access. Their ringleader, Alma Wurtz, is the worst of them, with a personal vendetta against Jocasta Binns. Scooter and Carla make an alliance with her in an attempt to save the dignity and decorum of the trade and the home they have come to love over the years, and the death of a public figure provides the perfect opportunity… but will they go too far?
I came into this novel expecting something on par with its predecessor, and was not disappointed in the least. The characters who were so full-fledged and rich grow and develop by leaps and bounds, especially when pushed to their boundaries. Funkhauser digs down deep into each character and shatters the lines of morality, showing us the darkness and light within all of them… and forcing us to take a good, hard, look at it ourselves as we decide, as readers, who we should really be cheering for. It is a difficult decision, in the end, and I think a second read is in order to really decide.
There is not quite as much in the way of magical realism in Scooter Nation: no spirits or sage advisory objects … but the spirits of Weibigand’s are still very present in the imprint they have left upon the people who remain. In the midst of death and chaos, life endures … unapologetic, plain, beautiful, and crazy. To be reminded of that should be the goal of every good book, and Funkhauser passes that test with flying colors.
It was with unparalleled delight that I met some chapter members at the WCDR Bookapalooza event on November 21st. I say unparalleled for two reasons: one; the engaging ladies I refer to could not stop grinning at me, which told me I was doing something very right; and two: they somehow saw through my gonzo humor enough to invite me to join the most excellent Sisters in Crime, Toronto Chapter.
What is gonzo and what does that have to do with crime? I’ll tell you. Gonzo is a kind of subversive social commentary created and promoted by the late Hunter S. Thompson (He of ROLLING STONE fame). Geared at shining a light on things we hold dear (and don’t), gonzo’s operate under a basic tenet: characters can say and do things we cannot do in a civilized society AND get away with it!
I am the author of two published works, both of which touch on the things I know best: funeral directing and sausage making. As a funeral director that both embalms the dead and assists the living in funeral planning, I have been honored to glimpse a world that very few ever see. Thanks to my immigrant background, I am imbued with a sense of irony that I fiercely hold on to as it is the wellspring for my fiction. I grew up in a household that made bratwurst FROM SCRATCH and favored long ARMED walks in the woods, not because we sought protection from animals, but rather from the hoomans that aspire to behave like animals when not under the watchful eyes of others.
Given my history and the imagination it feeds, it came as a logical step that my characters would, at times, do strange things, including engaging in criminal acts, all in the name of what they saw as ‘righteous’ or ‘fitting’.
Can anyone really get away with murder anymore? I don’t think so. The scope of forensics being what it is makes it impossible for even the craftiest humans to dispose of evidence completely. The second and most compelling reason, I think, is human nature and its fundamental frailty in the need to confide. We absolutely cannot keep our mouths shut; believing that sharing will somehow justify or at least ameliorate the consequences of our actions.
Which is why crime fiction is so much fun! Pair suspension of disbelief with the author’s own commitment to the character on the page and a murder undetected becomes wholly possible.
Can a funeral director get away with murder? They’ve tried, and they always get caught. When I meet everyone at the next meeting, I’ll tell you why…
Visitors to the blog know that I’ve put about a dozen author colleagues under the magnifying glass with a Proustian-like questionnaire penned by yours truly. Designed to go behind the words and into the writer’s mind, the questionnaire was embraced with thoughtful answers as the amazing end result.
What is a Proustian questionnaire? Well, Wikipedia and on-line dictionaries define Proustian as anything remotely to do with Marcel Proust, a “French novelist whose long novel À la Recherche du Temps Perdu (1913–27) deals with the relationship of the narrator to themes such as art, time, memory, and society.”
Yep. So anything to do with what surrounds you is…Proustian. I think.
What are your thoughts on muses and do you have one?
Muses are mythical, compelling creatures credited with facilitating masterworks that otherwise would have never been. Alma Mahler and Helga Testorf come to mind along with that whole thing George Sand and Chopin had going on. I have to say that the Heuer character is richer because of a couple of guy buddies who endured my pestering to look over scenes and dialogue for male “authenticity”. They had plenty to say: “guys don’t think like that” “guys don’t care about that” etc. I took about half of their suggestions; the rest is creative license. Heuer is complicated, so the reactions he got from my muses told me that I had something very interesting.
Your characters have a great capacity to love, yet they’re starved. Why do you think this happens in fiction and in real life?
Hmmm. Heuer is a child of the Cold War and a baby boomer, which means his views are very out of step with the current times. In the Eighties, he obsessively reads Ayn Rand, votes Republican and walks around wearing a button that says “Cruise On” in support of cruise missile testing. He does this not out of any enduring belief, but out of a need to enrage. He is rocking his own version of what a “bad guy” is. And it works: women are curious about him, but don’t venture near very often, and he’s fine with that. He sees ‘love’ as a commodity that can be traded up or down. And he can leave relationships behind as long as he has a photo trophy or two to mull over. It’s baggage, I guess. That’s what empties the glass.
Without giving spoilers, would you say you’re a “happy ending” writer?
I certainly like definitive conclusions. Cliff hangers and Whaaa Happened? doesn’t really do it for me and so I wouldn’t want to do that to anyone good enough to read my stuff. So I’m in the business of delivering endings that hopefully make the reader happy, even if, by pure definition, the plot circumstance is not.
What would you like to be remembered for?
Epithets? Wow. I want to be remembered for being kind. It’s a quality that doesn’t always come easily, but I consciously work at it and am getting better for it.
If you could dine with any historical figure living or dead, who would it be and why?
The Real Thing
This changes year to year. Currently, I’d have to go with John Graves Simcoe, first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, and scourge of Long Island during the Revolutionary War. I love AMC and their current historical drama TURN: Washington’s Spies. It’s a potboiler. Simcoe is not only bad, he’s vile; yet he’s staunchly committed. A Royalist defending his country against republican marauders, he puts everything second to that first. He’s a bad, bad guy, and I can’t take my eyes off of him. I’d love to know how he lives with himself and then probably give him a good kick in the a**.
Past, present or future? Where does your mind dwell?
When I was young, I fell victim to the romantic past. I came of age in the Eighties, so naturally I believed that the Sixties had to be the be all and end all. Like Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris protagonist, I believed that satisfaction rested in what had already passed. Now at the half century (gawd that sounds old) I have fully come to my senses. The Eighties hold a lot of fond memories for me, but I have no desire to revisit them. The best time of my life is NOW and the next thing coming…whatever that is.
What informs your writing most?
Music! Music affects me a lot. I have the radio going morning till night and I’ll listen to anything from alt to classical to jazz to rock to pop to hip hop. I’ll actually pick my music depending on where I am in the story. If it’s an angry point, I might put on Slipknot or Rammstein.
Growing up in the Seventies, school kids were encouraged to think globally and act locally. Have you ever flirted with this philosophy?
Sure. I try to keep current and it amazes me how major issues disappear when someone in Hollywood gets married or divorced. But that’s always been a condition of pop culture. I mull things. I try to be thoughtful. Some of it actually makes it into the mouths of my characters which is great. If there’s to be controversy, let it come from them.
Guilty pleasures: we all have them. What is yours?
Frat boy comedies. DUDE, WHERE’S MY CAR is a favorite along with ANIMAL HOUSE and anything coming from camp Apatow.
Your greatest victory?
Going back to school at age 39 and graduating third in the class. *yah!*
Tell us about the one that got away. Person, place or thing.
It was a car. A real beauty and a classic. But I didn’t have the money to buy her, so I made her a character instead.
What are some of the overriding themes in your work? Do you have a favorite?
I’m always rocking nostalgia, but not in the way some might expect. I like memories as much as anyone else, but I don’t live in them, so a number one theme in Heuer is that nostalgia hurts more than it helps. Another one, and this really is a pet peeve, is that prying into someone’s business really is a lousy thing to do. The business of suspicious spouses cum private eyes appears routinely in advice columns where they ask permission from the columnist to break into their loved ones email. I can’t abide that. As far as I know it’s still a punishable offense to read someone’s snail mail, so why should electronic communications be any different? The mortician character Enid wrestles with this in HEUER LOST AND FOUND. She doesn’t break into his computer, but she does go through his things, and she feels terrible about it. Which brings me to my final theme: some questions don’t need answers. Enid is committed to finding out what happened to him, but does she really need to know in order to love him? That one has to be my all time fave.
Who do you admire and why?
Anyone who can take on a task and finish it. That’s commitment. That’s saying something about what a person is and what they can be.
Are writers fully formed works of art or works in progress?
THE FUNKHAUSER ROADSHOW CONTINUES MAY 14 WITH SHYLA WOLFF’S THOUGHTS
The Blog welcomes resident Athenian, action, adventure, romance writer A.A. Schenna whose thoughts on travel, musing and the one that got away will surprise and delight. Welcome A.A.
The black angels have come, destroying the world to remake it in their own image. Some humans will survive, even overcome. As their world burns, they will rise from the ashes.
And some survivors will fall.
“You destroyed everything!” The tall man was exclaimed, trying to unchain his hands.
“No, you destroyed us,” the powerful speaker, the winner of this battle answered and looked at his enemy, feeling sorry for him.
“We could be together in this. We could do anything, Marc.” He couldn’t accept his failure and forthcoming punishment as he attempted to earn Marc’s trust by making him feel emotionally trapped.
“It’s over, Leonim.” Marc would never disrespect the law.
“I will never forget your betrayal, Marc. The next time I will kill your Alphas after cutting off your head first.” Leonim was sure he would be given another chance, and didn’t hesitate to threaten the leader of white soldiers of their lord as well.
“You will miss being embodied, Leonim. I will see you the final day again.” Marc waved his left hand at the guards and took him away while he watched his violent removal in silence.
“You will regret it, Marc. I will kill you and your Alphas like you did to my race,” Marc shouted out, scuffing his feet roughly on the ground, trapping the white soldiers in a cloud of dust. He was unable to accept the consequences of his mutiny and kept resisting.
Marc turned back and walked to the place where the first Alphas had been slaughtered by Leonim and the rest of the revolutionists. The moment he gazed at their bleeding, soulless bodies, he cried out and, although he was aware of how things would evolve, he could do nothing but admire their strength. He had truly loved these people and never stopped admiring their passion to protect their offspring by sacrificing their lives.
Marc made a circle around the place they were found and, later, he knelt in front of the true fighters, touching their bodies while praying for their souls before giving the final signal to burn the temples of their pure hearts.
“The gates are closed. Leonim and the rest will remain locked in until the last day. The offspring of the first Alphas are enough to restart everything again,” the tall man opposite him intoned.
The white angel got up and remained stable, staring for the last time at the first Alphas. The dark had covered the forest and the towering oak trees–the last remaining paradise on earth– but the new day would turn into the new beginning of humanity.
After a while, the fire turned the bodies of the first Alphas into ash whereas the smoke kept rising, becoming one with the white clouds of euphoria, seeking for a shelter to transfer and let their souls rest in peace.
The black angels were defeated and now they would remain trapped in the abyss, the zone between life and death, unable to do anything other than wait for their punishment.
“I think we are done here,” Marc said and looked toward his powerful soldiers. The white angels nodded at their leader and waited for his next move.
Marc looked around him and spread his great wings to take to the air. The rest of his team followed him back. Flying higher, Marc remembered the past and his initial reaction, considering whether he could have done something to prevent this from happening or not.
“Look at them!” Leonim said contemptuously.
“It’s not our business.” Marc said firmly.
“The only thing they know is producing offspring, they are pathetic,” Leonim added, pointing at the people who lived in small villages.
“You know the rules, Leonim.” Marc was able to guess Leonim’s thoughts.
“We could make things different, Marc. We could be their Gods and worship both of us everyday.” Leonim whispered, feeling guilty for his selfish confession.
“Are you insane?” Marc shook his head, trying to forget his words.
“Stand by my side and I will help you do everything you want,” Leonim dared to suggest while Marc remained speechless, coming across the ruthless reality.
“I will pretend you never said that, Leonim.” Marc murmured.
That moment Marc realized that his brother had lost his mind, desiring the privilege of their father. He was certain that nothing would be the same again since Leonim stepped into the zone of selfishness, ignoring the law and disregarding the love of their father. Leonim regarded that he could make everything better whereas nothing and no one would be able to stop him.
The following day, Marc found Leonim sleeping with the daughter of a man under the shadow of an oak tree. He loved his brother, and now froze in fear because he knew what their father would do to him.
“What have you done?” Marc cried, trying to hide his tears. Leonim had crossed the line and betrayed them all.
“I decided to change everything and make a new race. Come with me, Marc, we could be the best team. Our offspring will become very strong–no one will be able to hurt them and we will become their Gods.” Leonim was so passionate with his plan that he couldn’t understand the consequences of his actions yet.
“You did something you knew was forbidden,” Marc whispered.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
A.A Schenna was born on May 8, 1982 and currently lives with his partner Maria in Athens, Greece. As a child, A.A dreamed of being a cardiac surgeon. Later, Schenna realized that this was not what he wanted.
Writing has always been his greatest pleasure. When he doesn’t write action, adventure, romance stories or anything else, he reads everything.
Schenna admires all the writers he comes across and enjoys talking about books and magazines.
A.A loves traveling, meeting new people and discovering new places.
What are your thoughts on muses and do you have one?
They treat me well! If they were real, and if I had the chance to meet them, I would definitely talk with Clio and Melpomene.
Life and the people I love give birth to inspiration. When I am surrounded by their positive energy, I feel the need to write stories that I want to share with everyone in this world. Characters have a great capacity to love, yet they’re starved. Why do you think this happens in fiction and in real life?
Love is passion, obsession. Although we are capable of almost anything, I do believe that we can’t control the power of love. Most times, love turns into a wonderful, but dangerous addiction as well. We demand everything and we never feel satisfied. Without giving spoilers, would you say you’re a “happy ending” writer?
Yes! Sometimes life treats me well and I feel grateful to God for keeping me healthy and safe. But there are times I feel sad and I really need to read something that will help me forget my problems. I love reading and writing books with happy endings. What would you like to be remembered for?
For being a good man… Everyday I do my best to be kind, and I try to be patient and friendlier with everyone. If you could dine with any historical figure living or dead, who would it be and why?
I would definitely do that with Aristotle, the Greek philosopher and scientist (384-322 BC). His philosophy continues to influence Christian Theology, and continues to be the object of active academic study today! In my opinion, this is amazing. Past, present or future? Where does your mind dwell?
Present! As Angel, the human being, I like having contact with reality. On the other hand, A.A Schenna, the writer, could turn back the time and travel in future… What informs your writing most?
The people, the experiences I come across and the power of nature.
Growing up in the Seventies, school kids were encouraged to think globally and act locally. Have you ever flirted with this philosophy?
Yes, and I still can’t understand the reason we gave up on this philosophy. In my view, locally means family and globally means God. I wish we would think globally and act locally again. I am sure our world would be different since we would love, appreciate and respect one another. Guilty pleasures: we all have them. What is yours?
Ice-cream! I believe I am addicted to chocolate. Your greatest victory?
I would say the presence of some people in my life. These people know what love means, and they helped me realize the real meaning of this word. It’s easy to say “I love you”, but it’s very difficult to prove it. Tell us about the one that got away. Person, place or thing.
It was a dog. My grandmother moved to the countryside and Maggie didn’t stay with me. She couldn’t live without my grandmother! What are some of the overriding themes in your work? Do you have a favorite?
Hope and determination are my favorite themes. I think that when we lack positive emotions and virtues, we stop living, we just exist, and this is tragic. Who do you admire and why?
The people who never give up and keep doing everything they can to achieve their goals. I admire their energy, their passion and the way they affect the rest of us. When I meet such people, I feel I want to do the same thing. Are writers fully formed works of art or works in progress?
I don’t have a straight answer.
I believe that writers produce stories.
On the other hand, stories are made of words. Then again, words can be put together to build larger elements of language. But the language is a living and growing organism, and we can feel it changing.
I think only the time should answer this question!
Thank you A.A. for stopping by. All the best in your work and travels!
TOMORROW: Swashbuckler David K. Bryant talk pirates, Presley and all good things Ancient www.davidkbryant.com
Bewitching Book Tours is geared towards the new author, the ebook author, the small and independent press author, and the mid-list author- the author who doesn’t have a huge marketing budget but wants the most bang for their promotional buck.
Bewitching Book Tours aims to offer just that by pairing authors and their books with targeted book bloggers and readers who enjoy the types of books the authors write.
Bewitching Book Tours specializes in paranormal romance, urban fantasy and paranormal erotica book tours though we tour almost all fiction genres including horror, YA, NA, and all the romance sub-genres (contemporary, historical, thriller, suspense, etc).
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Bewitching Book Tours offers readers the chance to discover new books while getting behind the scenes information about authors, books and characters.
Join us for a virtual book tour -you can read author guest blogs, interviews & book reviews and exclusive excerpts, listen to radio interviews, and participate in chats with the authors- all from the comfort of your home.
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In support of HEUER LOST AND FOUND releasing on April 23 on all Amazons, Bookgoodies, Solstice Publishing and wherever else Createspace is sending it, I will be popping in on fellow authors through to May 18 (with weekends off—I need my beauty sleep!) Here’s the roster for week one. Feel free to stop by.
Monday, April 20
Interview and Review with Shyla Wolff, Shyla Wolff’s Thoughs
Covering off the home desk www.abfunkhauser.com while I’m away are some amazing guest authors who will be answering a Proustian questionnaire of my own design as well as showcasing their latest projects, blogs, interviews and more. Check them out. First up, John DeBoer, author, medical doctor and duffer (that’s golfer for those of you not in the know). Welcome, John.
Biography: John DeBoer
After graduating from the University of Vermont College of Medicine, John L. DeBoer, M.D., F.A.C.S. completed a surgical residency in the U.S. Army and then spent three years in the Medical Corps as a general surgeon. Thirty years of private practice later, he retired to begin a new career as a writer.
When not creating new plot lines for his novels, Dr. DeBoer pursues his interests in cooking, films and film history, politics, and the amazing cosmos. Though he’s an avid tennis player, his yet-to-be-fulfilled goal is to achieve a level of mediocrity in the frustrating game of golf.
The father of two grown sons, he lives with his wife in North Carolina.
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.
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 them 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.
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.
But 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.
“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.
What 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.
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.
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