The book is out and with it came cover reveals, book trailers and my fave, the Q & A’s. So far, I have taped my first ever cable show with the amazing Jules Carlysle. TELLING STORIES on Rogers TV highlights authors from Durham Region right here in Ontario in a relaxed and informal setting. The show aired September 26 on Rogers Durham Cable 10 and 63 and I’m happy to report that I came out of it okay! Thanks Jules for editing out the part where I stared wide-eyed at the camera. lol.
I also had some back to back excitement with my first ever author to audience speaking engagement before the Sister’s In Crime, Toronto Chapter, back in April. For ninety minutes I shared stories about life and death inside the funeral industry from the POV of yours truly, funeral director at large. The audience regaled me with thought provoking questions and for those I was truly appreciative. Such a wonderful group, the members welcomed me and I have become a member too!
On the heels of SinC, I was interviewed by Steve Cronin for a feature piece on my life and work in AMERICAN FUNERAL DIRECTOR magazine. Under the banner STORYTELLERS OF FUNERAL SERVICE, I, along with two other colleagues, shared experiences as both director and writer and of how we reconcile both. The piece, which appeared in the June 2016 issue will be reproduced here at a later date.
I am thrilled to announce that SCOOTER NATION won the Summer Indie Book Award 2016 “Best Humor” Category. This is the first year for this award and I was delighted to be a part of something that recognizes writers from all genres.
Nominations opened January 1st this year and closed two weeks prior to voting, which began on September 1st and wrapped on the 11th. Voters selected books in each category and were permitted to continue voting for their choices each day until the polls closed.
Heartfelt thanks to everybody for their support and belief in SCOOTER.
SCOOTER NATION has also been honored as Medalist Winner “Humor” 2016 New Apple E-Book Award through New Apple Literary. Selection was made by a jury panel. For the next year, SCOOTER will be on the receiving end of New Apple’s promotional expertise. Thanks so much to Becca and the team!
Following what has been a very exciting summer, I was honored to take part in my first Word on the Street Book and Magazine Festival at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre September 25th. As part of the Sisters in Crime Toronto Chapter booth, I had ample opportunity to talk about “things macabre” as well as offer up for purchase copies of HEUER LOST AND FOUND and SCOOTER NATION. SinC also had available, both volumes of their critically acclaimed THE WHOLE SHE-BANG anthology.
As work continues on SHELL GAME, the third volume in The Unapologetic Lives Series, I will also be preparing for a new book tour and giveaway through Roxanne Rhoads’ amazing Bewitching Book Tours. Beginning October 17th, I will be travelling around the digital world with interviews, articles, photos and plenty of SCOOTER talk. See you there!
SCOOTER NATION, of course, would not have a life outside of my own backyard without the help of author friends here in North America and across the oceans in England, Australia, India, South Africa and more. Five months after its release, it continues to get its day with cool questions and spotlight features. Thank you one and all for your support and encouragement.
September 29, 2016
SCOOTER 101 in 1-10
SCOOTER NATION is quite a title. What does it mean?
The novel on surface is about a group of people linked by community, but separated by competing interests. Alliances are made and broken and, of course, only one can win. The ‘Scooter’ in the title refers to a person, Scooter Creighton, as well as the vehicles the aggressive protagonists roar around on while they’re wreaking havoc. The two—man and machine–are not always on the same side.
So this is Spec Fiction? Thriller? Crime-Thriller?
Crimes are definitely committed, but more in the white collar vein. The thirst for land and the desire for status and legitimacy will drive the characters to do terrible things; all for what they believe is for the common good.
Altruism through dishonesty?
In a way. Whether they know it or not, the characters are trying to reconcile their competing interests in an effort to get to the middle ground—the old ‘end justifying the means’ cliché, which I happen to be a big fan of in literature. The funeral home employees like the status quo, and they dedicate their energies to preserving it. No pun intended there, by the way. Preservation is just one part of what a funeral director does on the job, but I do try to draw a line between the embalmer’s work and the characters’ overall attitude towards the environment around them. It must be protected, preserved for all time.
Who are the main characters in the novel?
Scooter Creighton is a long practicing funeral director married to ‘traditional’ funeral practices which are disappearing to his chagrin. Big caskets, churches and motorcades are being replaced by direct cremation, memorial services and customized receptions styled by the client families. Scooter struggles inwardly with these changes, which he resists largely out of a fear of the unknown.
Carla Moretto Salinger Blue is Scooter’s subordinate but in reality acts as the senior embalmer. Their work life is under threat from a powerful corporate entity that seeks to remake Weibigand Bros. over in its own image. Carla and Scooter despise the move and seek to undermine it. I love Carla for her tenderness and malice. She is driven by revenge and she is bogged down, battling protracted complicated grief from the death of a beloved pet.
Jocasta Binns is the undisputed power behind the throne when it comes to running Weibigand Brothers Funeral Home. She has big ideas where modernization is concerned, but she has to overcome closed minds and decades of resentment from her older half-brothers.
Alma Wurtz is the leader of the not so banal Beehive Gang, which divides its time between ransacking local establishments and spying on everyone else’s business. A great deal of the comedy comes from Alma, although Scooter has some choice one liners.
Hamsi Jalaluddin Haq is the owner of the Take It And Go convenience store adjacent the funeral home. Linked by a parking lot, Hamsi has a lot in common with Carla and Scooter in that he is often put upon by others. As a war survivor, he is tougher than he looks and is often the voice of reason in the thick of crisis.
Robert Stache-Martin is the unseen bogeyman in the drama. He heads up a fitness empire beloved in North America. His ‘There is no half way, only all the way’ ethos is curiously in line with everything the funeral directors believe, yet his arrival in their quiet corner of Michigan is the last straw that sets off a high stakes rebellion that will leave some people very dead.
When does the book come out?
I hoped to have it out by my birthday, March 13, but my Editor in Chief says that releases can’t happen on a Sunday, so we’re going with March 11. I’m thrilled! It’s releasing as an eBook first on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and the publisher’s site www.Solsticepublishing.com but can be ordered in paperback format.
Is this a sequel to HEUER LOST AND FOUND?
SCOOTER NATION is my second novel and like HEUER, is part of the series UNAPOLOGETIC LIVES. UL examines complex relationships between bosses and coworkers; neighbors and strangers; the able and unable to name a few. What links HEUER and SCOOTER are some shared characters and the funeral home proper. The building, in fact, is a character on its own, spanning about seventy years of history from the first book to the last.
How many books do you have planned?
I thought seven at first, but it’s beginning to look more like nine. People working towards achieving a balance between ‘what is’ and ‘what should be’ never gets old for me. Plus, funeral service has a rich history not often spoken of because of the confidentiality component built in to every aspect of what we do. So I could probably write forever on the subject, but most likely won’t. I let the characters decide where I go next.
So you take direction from your characters? Do you plot your books before trying the first draft?
Yes, and no. I spend a lot of time mulling things over before I actually sit down at the keyboard and try the first draft (which is so exhilarating once I finally get to it). I keep character ideas and story elements in subject-specific folders, along with any popcorn scenes (my sparkling diamonds) that come to mind in the course of the mulling process. Conjuring up something new usually takes a year, which is fine with me because the rest of the year is spent on refining, editing, publishing and then PROMOTING the previous WIP.
Are you a big fan of promotions? Not everybody seems to embrace it as enthusiastically as you do.
I think I was a Mad Man in another life because tweeting and tag lines seem to be my thing. I also like to design blip ads https://abfunkhauser.com/blip-ads/ and blog. Blog, blog, blog. Can’t stress enough the importance of blogging. I think we’re all pretty sure that E.L. James’ success with FIFTY SHADES OF GREY came in no small part from her website and fan blogs. And that makes sense. Writer’s need an audience; new writers get their audience from twitter followers, Facebook friends and through guest blogging. Oh, yes, and book reviews! Karmically I believe that we must read others in order to get read ourselves. We learn so much from our colleagues, and I like saying so through the reviews I do. It’s probably the altruist’s best way to get heard and do some good all at the same time. It’s a win, win.
You go to great lengths in interviews to stress the importance of confidentiality in your day job. How do you reconcile your convictions with fiction writing?
That’s a fantastic question! Thank you! First, it’s important that I clarify my work status to date. Although I maintain an active license to practice in the province of Ontario, I have taken a break from embalming/funeral directing to write full time. That doesn’t change a thing where confidentiality is concerned. Funeral directors are bound both legally and ethically to protect the privacy of the deceased and their survivors ad infinitum. I’ll never forget what my ethics professor said all those years ago in school: that the deceased are the most vulnerable people on this earth, infants included. They cannot cry out. They cannot defend themselves. Therefore, it’s on the director to protect their privacy, maintain their dignity and at all times show respect. In writing about my fictitious funeral home, the dead are sacrosanct. I focus comically on the daily lives of the directors and work colleagues they come into contact with through cross disciplines (fire, police, pathology, to name a few). And in the case of HEUER LOST AND FOUND, I took great care to give my deceased Jürgen Heuer a voice and spiritual body that not only wreaks havoc and extracts revenge but commands the grudging respect of his tormentors. In that, he is anything but defenseless.
An Interview with best selling author Lizzy Stevens
1. Please tell us about your latest book.
SCOOTER NATION is the second novel in my UNAPOLOGETIC LIVES series, which focuses comically on the foibles that drive human beings in their skins. From lofty ideals to baser aggressions, protagonists and antagonists are unshakable in their belief that they are right and that what they are doing will ultimately translate into a greater good. SCOOTER NATION is about a group of people linked by community, but separated by competing interests. Alliances are made and broken and, of course, only one can win. The ‘Scooter’ in the title refers to a person, Scooter Creighton, as well as the vehicles the aggressive protagonists roar around on while they’re wreaking havoc. The two—man and machine–are not always on the same side.
2. What can we expect from you in the future?
My WIP SHELL GAME moves away from the Weibigand Funeral Home that, in so many ways, was its own character in the first novels, into the seemingly pastoral neighborhoods of fictional Pictontown on the Downs. There, two neighbors, locked in a ‘hate match’ fueled by disputes over a home renovation gone wrong and a local election campaign, find common ground through co ownership of a tabby cat with a recessive gene. A death through misadventure and a possible murder case gone unreported will expose the rot at the community’s center anchored by a feline fetishist sex cult that gives the cat his own agenda. It’s going to be a cool trip. I promise!
3. How do we find out about you and your books?
You can find me through my Amazon author page, my WordPress Website and of course my publisher, Summer Solstice. SCOOTER has also been picked up by Walmart.com.
4. Why did you decide to write “gonzo mortuary fiction” novels?
I’m a steadfast fan of the late Hunter S. Thompson and Kurt Vonnegut, both socially conscious powerful writers. Their obvious joy at informing readers through subtext and off the wall humor struck me and stuck with me throughout the years. I thought that if I could get a message through with humor, then I’d really accomplish something. I keep writing and producing new work as the muse strikes. Hopefully, time will prove I’m on track.
5. How much of your personality and life experiences are in your writing?
I’m all over it according to friends, colleagues and critics so I’d probably be in the wrong if I dispute it. I like to delve into things I’ve experienced firsthand — the life and times of a neighborhood funeral director being one of them. My latest character, Bronagh Caley, limps through life with a fractured fifth metatarsal bound by an ugly walking cast. The injury is a metaphor for things going wrong in her fictional life. The cussing and swearing come from me, as I had a broken fifth metatarsal at the time of writing and was livid with myself for falling off a ladder. Looking back, I can LOL it fully. At the time…no. *laughs*
6. When did you first think about writing and what prompted you to submit your first ms?
I began journaling after my 45th birthday. An old friend had just died and I found writing to be the healthiest way to come to terms with life, death, longevity, aging, unrealized dreams, bucket lists — the whole shebang! Six years later, I have two published works and three more manuscripts to whip into shape. I submitted my ms on the recommendation of a fellow Solstice author who felt I had something a publisher might like. She was right! I never stop thanking her for giving me the heads up and the kick in the pants to throw in my lot.
7. Generally, how long does it take you to write a book?
One year, but that’s only after years of toiling over the first one. I had to learn how to do it. I’m still learning. Crafting the BIG novel — 100,000 words or more — is the next item on my bucket list. It will be a challenge and an entirely new experience since my first drafts usually come in between 50— to 65,000 words. I’m psyched.
8. Do you have a set schedule for writing or do you just go with the flow?
I’ve taken time off from funeral directing, so I treat writing like a day job. From Monday to Friday I’m at my desk from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. with routine interruptions from the cat, the teens, the spouse. LOL. Whether I am editing, promoting, reviewing the works of others, or composing new material, I do this from January to July each year, with a summer break in August. September and October are dedicated to prepping new submissions, while November belongs to NaNoWriMo and the next ms in waiting.
9. What about your family, do they know not to bother you when you are writing – or are there constant interruptions?
Lots of interruptions; lots of family oriented things to do. I don’t mind. Once I start writing something down, it’s transcription. The book is in my head.
10. What do you do to relax and recharge your batteries?
I grab the ones I love and head outside. The worlds I create inside my head are immensely satisfying, but they can never take the place of real life in real time.
11. What truly motivates you in general? In your writing?
Putting a foot outside the door; opening my eyes wide; unclogging my ears and tuning in to the comedy and drama and tragedy that informs nuanced lives. There is more going on at the grocery store than you know … until you take a closer look. Then, and only then, do you realize that the stuff of great fiction is right there in the grocery aisle and that you, the writer, have an incredible opportunity to do with it what you will. Isn’t that cool?
An interview with Author Debbie De Louise
1. Tell us a little bit about your books — what genre you write, if you write a series, any upcoming releases or your current work-in-progress. If you have an upcoming release, please specify the release date.
In addition to the two published novels, I have three others in the works: SHELL GAME told from the POV of a tabby cat with a recessive gene; THE HEUER EFFECT, which is a prequel to HEUER LOST AND FOUND; and, POOR UNDERTAKER, which traces the rise and fall of a family run funeral establishment from 1947 to 1975. All titles are joined by a theme “unapologetic lives” that allows characters to operate without filters. They say and do and get away with things we could never do in a civilized, ordered society; hence, the series: UNAPOLOGETIC LIVES.
It is more through the happy accident of high functioning eccentric characters that I write gonzo mortuary revenge fiction. Through it, subtext and nuance is as important as the scene set dressing. Everything on surface is questionable and the narrator is almost always unreliable. It’s so much fun!
I’m hoping to have SHELL GAME ready for submission by November, but as any complicated character will tell you, the novel isn’t done until the protagonist says so.
2.Describe your goals as a writer. What do you hope to achieve in the next few years? What are you planning to do to reach these goals?
My goal is a straightforward one: get the words down and get them out for as long as the muse remains with me. Creating and promoting go hand in glove and I enjoy discussing process, characterization, subtext and blending genres almost as much as creating the books.
3. What type of reader are you hoping to attract? Who do you believe would be most interested in reading your books?
My characters are multigenerational, multilingual, and with few exceptions, morally elastic. The line between protagonist and antagonist often dissolves and I ask a lot of questions. How did he get this way? Why doesn’t she love him? Why is it so difficult to tell the truth? A sense of humor, a desire to get inside the characters’ lives, and an eye on the “long view” probably goes a long way.
4. What advice would you give other authors or those still trying to get published?
Write. Keep writing. And never give up. And build your brand. Author and book are inseparable.
5. What particular challenges and struggles did you face before first becoming published?
Finding time to do what I wanted when I wanted and needed to. Time management helped with that. Also, I’ve enlisted the help of the teenagers. Today is vacuum the house day!
6. Have you taken any writing or publishing classes? If so, please provide information about them and if you feel they helped you further your professional skills.
I took a couple of courses with the Writescape Group through the Writers’ Community of Durham Region. Course leaders Ruth Walker and Gwynn Scheltema not only helped me out with hooks and arcs, but they also gave me the ‘thumbs up’ — that I had ‘something’ but that it needed work. That’s all I needed to jump in boots first and keep at it ’till I figured it all out.
7. What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?
Anything outdoors. Anything with wheels and a four stroke engine. Great people … and the cat!
8. What do you like most and least about being an author? What is your toughest challenge?
I never dwell on negatives, so if something bothers me I walk away. Cooling off is the best way to recharge and refocus. I write every day except weekends and holidays. Whether its new works, editing, tweeting, reviewing or blogging, it’s writing and I love that there is always so much to do. There are endless possibilities. The challenge, always, is figuring out which project comes next.
Geo Buy Link: http://myBook.to/ScooterNation
Geo Buy Link: http://myBook.to/heuerlostandfound
Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.com/author/abfunkhauser
Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/u/0/118051627869017397678