This morning, Living the Dream welcomes a fellow Canadian author, A.B. Funkhauser. Ever wonder what those initials stand for? Well, A. is still a mystery, but I solved B.
Allow me to present Belle. She and I had a wonderful conversation about both herself and her work.
Thank you so much, Susanne, for making room for me in what has to be a very busy schedule.
Some days are busier than others, but it’s always nice to talk to new people. Please share a little about yourself, your genres, any other pen names you use.
Well, first off, I was born shy, but through sheer force of will have grown into an accomplished ham! Maybe that’s where my character’s strange intro/extrovertedness comes from? The other night, I appeared before a live audience with my fellow Durham County authors to do some open mic. It was the first time EVER that I didn’t have a racing heart. I was so comfortable in my skin that I really enjoyed myself!
The other thing is that I’m a wildlife/portrait artist, which really helps with my writing in the sense that if I need time to mull, I can do it over pen, paint or charcoal.
As far as genres go, I’m currently enmeshed in paranormal-gonzo with a hint of old Aesop. There’s a lot going on in front of the reader and behind the scenes. What the reader perceives is what they get, which is why HEUER means different things to different people. I like that a lot.
Tell us a little about your latest release.
HEUER LOST AND FOUND is a metaphysical journey of two people: one living, the other dead. But it’s handled in what I hope is a light but sensitive way. A man is dead in his home, and rather than being found right away, he is left to moulder with his mortal coil while speculating on where his friends have got to. At the funeral home where his body will ultimately wind up, h
is paranormal residue ‘haunts’ the living, breathing Enid Engler Krause. She is not only his mortician, but she is also an old girlfriend who has not seen him in twenty years…until now. In the body of Heuer rests her greatest fear: having to deal with the remains of someone she used to love. How can she take care of him sensitively and professionally without losing her mind? And how can he help her do this?
I’ll post more about your book when we finish the interview, so stay tuned, everyone.
Are you a mom (or parent)?
Yes! I have two teenagers who keep me on my toes and on the road. I can’t wait for them to get their driver’s licenses. Lol.
When that happens, you can kiss your car goodbye, and probably never see it with gas in it again. Do you find it hard to juggle writing and parenting?
No. The timing just worked out. Just as I began to grow on paper, they began to grow as people. Jobs, friends, opinions, fashion; it’s all there to be explored and lived. I have ample time during the day to focus on what I call The Job. Whether I’m blogging, tweeting, promoting or —joy of joys—creating new material, there is time for both. Of course it helps that I was able to take time off from full time work to devote to writing by day and family by night. I’ve been working since I was sixteen so you might say I earned my place at my writing desk!
Since I’m retired, I fully understand that luxury. Have you ever based your book or characters on actual events or people from your own life?
I think every writer does, but in varying degrees. My characters are composites—at least the human ones are! I also make liberal use of buildings, classic cars and Rattus norvegicus (the common rat) as characters. I like to have fun with the writing and basing characters too closely on actual people would impede that. Imagination for me is everything.
Is there a theme or message in your work that you would like readers to connect to?
There are several and they strike readers differently, which is very exciting to me. A reviewer said that my message was a poignant one: that beauty and elegance is present though not always noticed even when they are right in front of us. By this, I think he means that I want the reader to keep searching because there will always be something powerful to be found.
I think an author is successful if he or she can do that. Bravo. What would your readers be surprised to learn about you?
I would choose a cross country road trip in a convertible over a cruise ship on an aquamarine sea. There’s something about the wind across the windshield that keeps me stoked.
When you’re not writing what do you do? Do you have any hobbies or guilty pleasures?
I grew up with brothers, so ‘boy’ things are kind of ingrained in me. I like the north. I like being outside. Bonfires at any time of year are welcome. And I love a slow march through the woods. Outside is everything.
My guilty pleasure is Netflix. I get so much more out of a series when I can binge watch it. Nothing gets lost, especially with detailed series like GAME OF THRONES or BORGIA. Both offer huge international casts and a lot of back story which keeps me on my toes. I also get some valuable insights into plotting epics with multiple POVs. Luv that!
Guilty of that , too, but my sinful pleasures are Criminal Minds, Bones, Castle, and Blue Bloods with a smattering of NCIS thrown in. LOL
Which romance book or series (or other genre, if you don’t write romance) do you wish you had written?
I loved Poldark. Adored anything written by Thomas Hardy. I did the Austen thing when I was 16 – 20. But Patrick O’Brian’s Master and Commander Series with good ol’ Captain Jack Aubrey takes first place. While this is not romance, the character truly is as demonstrated by Russell Crowe in the film. :D *sigh*
Agreed. Love Russell Crowe, too. Definitely swoon worthy.
Is there a genre(s) that you’d like to write that you haven’t tackled yet?
THE HEUER EFFECT is third in the series and takes a radical departure from the first two. In it, the characters are alive and vital in the 1980s and, at times, do terrible things to each other. So far, it’s coming off rather romantically and it’s nice. But knowing the muse, this won’t last for long. There’s an imp at work that insists things go sideways, whether it be a flat tire or a less than satisfying physical encounter: “She’d never seen one up close and for real before and could not help but think of the hagfish parasite she’d seen hanging off the backs of sharks on Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.”
One day…one day…I might play it straight…but not now.
LOL, that’s quite the description! Of all the characters you’ve ever written, who is your favorite and why?
My vote goes to Jocasta Binns, who started out as a two dimensional cardboard villain and grew into her own book (POOR UNDERTAKER). My writing group—the esteemed BROOKLIN 7—kept on me about why she was the way she was. What was her story? So in book 4, I had to go back farther, beginning with her birth in 1947. Such a sweet girl. So much promise. Naturally, it cannot last. ;)
If this book is part of a series…what is the next book? Any details you can share?
The Series is called Unapologetic Lives for the reason that I wanted to see grown-ups careening out of control with little or no concern toward limited liability, torts, class action lawsuits or political correctness. They’re of age, and they have one crack at this life. The second novel is called SCOOTER NATION and its tone is completely different. Set two years after HEUER in the same funeral parlor, it focuses on Scooter Creighton and Carla Moretto Salinger Blue. Both are funeral directors, and both have critical walk ons in the first novel.
Here’s my elevator pitch:
When a scooter bound gang of septuagenarians terrorize a neighborhood, local businesses align in self defense.
It’s a story about identity, finding your place in society, and treating your fellow man with dignity…and GONZO!
Sounds interesting. What is next for you? Do you have any scheduled upcoming releases or works in progress?
I’m promoting HEUER (promotion is FOREVER, you know) while refining SCOOTER for submission. Come November and NaNoWriMo, I hope to complete part II of POOR UNDERTAKER. I’m very excited, although my head is a bit crowded. LOL.
I know exactly how that feels! Any last words?
Are there really any for a writer? I want to stress the importance of blogging and of hosting fellow writers. Success (and we all have different definitions for that) is best enjoyed in a group I think. And I’m very much married to the idea that if you work with others, the cumulative results will shine favorably on all concerned. So far it’s proved true.
Thank you so much for dropping by, Belle, and best wishes for many sales and success. Now, as promised, here’s a peak at more for HEUER.
Heuer Lost And Found, Unapologetic Lives, Book
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Fiction, Metaphysical, Paranormal, Dark Humor
Publisher: Solstice Publishing
Date of Publication: April 23, 2015
Formats available: Electronic, Paper Back
Cover Artist: Michelle Crocker
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?
“Heuer” as in “lawyer”: Heuer the Lawyer
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…
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 into the parking lot. 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.
Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-C5qBpb0Yc
Interview Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2yhaXfh-ns
Interview Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoPthI1Hvmo
Geo Buy Link: http://myBook.to/heuerlostandfound
PRAISE For HEUER
“The macabre black comedy Heuer Lost And Found, written by A.B. Funkhauser, is definitely a different sort of book! You will enjoy this book with its mixture of horror and humour.”
—Diana Harrison, Author ALWAYS AND FOREVER
“This beautifully written, quirky, sad, but also often humorous story of Heuer and Enid gives us a glimpse into the fascinating, closed world of the funeral director.”
—Yvonne Hess, Charter Member, The Brooklin 7
“The book runs the gamut of emotions. One minute you want to cry for the characters, the next you are uncontrollably laughing out loud, and your husband is looking at you like you lost your mind, at least mine did.”
“The writing style is racy with no words wasted.”
—David K. Bryant, Author TREAD CAREFULLY ON THE SEA
“For a story centered around death, it is full of life.”
—Rocky Rochford, Author RISE OF ELOHIM CHRONICLES
“Like Breaking Bad’s Walter White, Heuer is not a likeable man, but I somehow found myself rooting for him. A strange, complicated character.”
—Kasey Balko, Pickering, Ontario
Raw, clever, organic, intriguing and morbid at the same … breathing life and laughter into a world of death.
—Josie Montano, Author VEILED SECRETS