Spotlight: A.B. Funkhauser Visits to Talk About Her Latest Release!
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...
Can you tell us a little about your latest book? When did it come out and where can we get it?
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?
Geo Buy Link: http://myBook.to/heuerlostandfound
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
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.
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
So...give us a teaser or two if you can.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
‘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
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
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/
Thanks so much for stopping by to tell us about this book, A.B.!
Readers, you'll just have to pick up a copy of this exciting humorous horror book! ;)
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
“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.”
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…
Amazon Author Central: www.amazon.com/author/abfunkhauserGoodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13726412.A_B_Funkhauser
Other Info About A.B.: http://abfunkhauser.com/faqs/