Spotlight: A.B. Funkhauser Visits to Talk About Her Latest Release!

Today, we're doing something a little different. Fellow Solstice author A.B. Funkhauser is stopping by to talk about her fun horror book!
 


Hello, A.B.! It's great that you're visiting MLB.  :)

 


 

Thank you so much for having me back on one of your blogs, Marie. It’s always a joy stopping by...



My pleasure, of course! So, let me ask a few questions since you're here...

All right.

 

Can you tell us a little about your latest book? When did it come out and where can we get it?

 

http://bookgoodies.com/a/B00V6KLAMA

 The book is a metaphysical journey of two people; one living, the other dead. How they deal with their surroundings and each other determines their fate. That’s the very serious definition. For the lighthearted among us, it is a tale of two very self-centered individuals, each with their own abuse and socio-behavioral issues. To wit: one is a hording egotist who can’t figure out his place in society, while the other is a boozer with a ‘poor me’ complex who’d like to stop tripping and falling all over her feet and her life. It’s sad, funny, adult and unapologetic with special attention paid to political correctness and the boondoggle it sometimes creates. And did I mention that it takes place in a funeral parlor?


The book is available in e and print formats through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.




Interesting! 


So, what inspired you to write your book? How did you get into writing humorous horror (correct me if I'm wrong)?



You’re spot on with the genre, Marie. The humor stems from my own personality. I grew up with Monty Python and Saturday Night Live in the Seventies when it was all new and subversive and deliciously badly behaved. I got it right away. The horror element comes from reader reaction. That the story takes place in a funeral home, involving a funeral director tasked with having to embalm someone she used to know and love, is horrifying to many inside and outside the industry. How she copes with being a professional and grief-stricken private person all at the same time was my task and I chose to do it with a lighter touch. To go full on dramatic, I feared, might have placed too much pressure on the reader and I didn’t want that. I wanted the reader to stay with the characters—cry with them; scream with them; and, yes, laugh with them. The horror and the humor was the essence of life and death in the piece.

The inspiration came from the work itself. As a funeral director, I, like many, feared a day would come when someone I knew would come through the door and how would I cope with that when they did. Then my imagination took over.


 

I see.

 

What, do you feel, sets this book apart from other books in the genre?

 

The themes: love, loss, understanding and redemption are universal. What is different here (I hope) is Heuer himself. I like to think that there is no one else out there like him. And, indeed, he has turned into my kind of anti-hero. More than one reviewer has said that he is unlikeable, yet the reader ‘roots for him’ and hopes that he is found. That’s amazing to me because it’s all I ever asked for: don’t like him necessarily, but understand this complex, conflicted, amazing and grudgingly loving individual.


Fascinating! 

So...give us a teaser or two if you can.

Teaser 1

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.

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.

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 into 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…


Teaser 2 
 

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.

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.


So, I'm sure readers are curious about your next writing project. Can you tell us what you've got cooking up now or is that a secret?

 

It’s no secret. In fact, SCOOTER NATION, my next piece, is featured on my website as a WIP geared to keeping me out of trouble this summer. Like the site says, SCOOTER takes place two years after HEUER LOST AND FOUND in the same funeral home with some overlapping and brand new characters. This time, Scooter Creighton and Carla Moretto Salinger Blue (both had critical tertiary roles to play in HEUER) take the lead as the protagonists who combat a wily neighborhood business association, new age fitness guru and an out of control single issue lobby group that dabbles in civil disobedience and property destruction. It’s completely gonzo. http://abfunkhauser.com/wip-scooter-nation/



http://abfunkhauser.com/wip-scooter-nation/

 

Ooh! Riveting!

Thanks so much for stopping by to tell us about this book, A.B.!
 
My pleasure!

Readers, you'll just have to pick up a copy of this exciting humorous horror book!  ;)

 

http://myBook.to/heuerlostandfound

 

Here is the blurb.

 

Unrepentant 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. Is it really worth it?  

 

Sounds like an interesting read!

 

About the 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 and we not it. 

“Were it not for the calling, I would have just as likely remained an office assistant shuffling files around, and would have been happy doing so.”
Life had another plan. After a long day at the funeral home in the waning months of winter 2010, she looked down the long hall joining the director’s office to the back door leading three steps up and out. At that moment a thought occurred: What if a slightly life-challenged mortician tripped over her man shoes and landed squarely on her posterior, only to learn that someone she once knew and cared about had died, and that she was next on the staff roster to care for his remains?
Like funeral directing, the writing called, and four years and several drafts later, Heuer Lost and Found was born.

What’s a Heuer? Beyond a word rhyming with “lawyer,” Heuer the lawyer is a man conflicted. Complex, layered, and very dead, he counts on the ministrations of the funeral director to set him free.
A labor of love and a quintessential muse, Heuer has gone on to inspire four other full length works and over a dozen short stories.*

“To my husband John and my children Adam and Melina, I owe thanks for the encouragement, the support, and the belief that what I was doing was as important as anything I’ve tackled before at work or in art.”
Funkhauser is currently working on a new manuscript begun in November during NaNoWriMo 2014.
*The novels: Scooter Nation, The Heuer Effect, Poor Undertaker, Dirty Dale. The Shorts: The Essential Heuer, Jack Bunny and the Rocket Man, Turd Meets Rock, Cassarine, Terra Nova, Ursa Major, Hey! Birdy, Birdy, The Hagfish Conundrum, Mutual of Omaha, Cheetahs in Flight, Lady Predator, and more…

Author Links: 

Website/Blog:  www.abfunkhauser.com  



Amazon Author Central:  www.amazon.com/author/abfunkhauser
Goodreads:  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13726412.A_B_Funkhauser
Google+:  https://plus.google.com/u/0/118051627869017397678/posts


Other Info About A.B.:  http://abfunkhauser.com/faqs/ 


 


A.B.'s Book:  



http://myBook.to/heuerlostandfound

  

Comments

  1. Not only am I enjoying the crazy, fun ride A.B. is currently on, I'm in awe of her quirkiness and immense talent. Wish her tons of success! She is one to keep watching!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you, Raegyn. All the world's a stage. Trope an' True. I'm having so much fun! ABF

    ReplyDelete

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