What inspired you to become an author?
I was a diarist first, which basically means that I was writing for an audience of one. But then I shared it with a writer friend, whose response was along the lines of “keep going, keep going”. I laughed and said “But I’m making stuff up. Most of this isn’t even real.” And she said, “Fantastic. It’s fiction.” Then my kids got in on the act: “You’re just doing this because auntie is writing a book.” And I said: “Well, yeah.” So I really have to blame all of this on auntie and the kids. (laughs)
Do you have a specific writing style?
Third party readers/reviewers say I do. It’s all very organic for me. You see, I spent about thirty years observing and then mulling on things going on around me, but I never had a platform from which to hang it all on…until now. I guess my style is character-oriented. Whether they’re talking or doing, they are very distinct to me. I’ve flirted with the idea that what I’m really doing is taking dictation and that the characters are, in fact, doing the writing.
Do you write in different genres?
Not consciously, but yes. The second novel, SCOOTER NATION, is very gonzo, which means it’s irreverent and at times careens out of control. But there is a rhythm to it that made gonzo style the logical choice. The third novel, THE HEUER EFFECT, on the other hand is very romantic because the characters are young and alive and prone to adorable self delusion and this demanded that care be taken to explore all the sturm und drang of the subtexts. My current one POOR UNDERTAKER is a biggie—100k+—and is looking more and more like historical fiction. What can I say? It’s the characters again.
If yes which is your favorite genre to write?
It’s driven by mood. Right now, I’m having a lot of fun researching the details and watching a lot of Turner Classic Movies. POOR UNDERTAKER begins in the late 1940s so while I’m aware of early embalming techniques, the nuts and bolts of grocery shopping and placing a long distance call eighty years ago took some time to get a feel for. I’m feeling more introspective these days, so delving into the minds of people long dead is perfect for me. I guess historical fiction is my thing right now.
How did you come up with the title for your latest book?
HEUER LOST AND FOUND began as a much larger work, and once it reached 120K I knew I had to do something, so I hived it off into two parts: the past and the present. Because the main character is dead, and his funeral director obsesses over how he came to wind up on her table, she undertakes a black ops investigation into his past. Because she is searching for a part of their shared past, I hooked into the notion of the double loss: the man and the proof of their relationship. It muddles the mind to think that she lost him, then found him, but has really lost him because he’s dead and she can’t tell him what she needs to tell him…at least, that’s what she thinks. *wink, wink*
Do you title the book first or wait until after it’s complete?
The title for the next book comes mid to two thirds of the way through the work in progress. I always have a clear indication of where I’m headed.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes! But it’s up to the reader to find it, and I’m thrilled to say that the readers thus far have found all kinds of DIFFERENT things, which is what I aim for.
Is the book, characters, or any scenes based on a true life experience, someone you know, or events in your own life?
Sure. James Bond creator Ian Fleming said that every fiction he wrote was predicated on fact and I guess I’m the same. There’s some of me in Heuer, which is weird because he’s a dude and not a very nice one. Paging Dr. Freud. (laughs) And of course, the description of the funeral home and that epic back door on the front cover: Weibigand’s is a composite of four real life establishments that no longer exist. I was really driven to get the details down: This was my way of preserving a small bit of mortuary history.
What books/authors have influenced your life?
It’s been a steady progression. When I was little—Dr. Seuss; Green Eggs and Ham, The Sneetches, The Green Pants. Wow. The sounds of the words and how they made me laugh. Seuss gave me permission not only to make up things, but words too. That was huge. Then I went through an Austen period as a teen and there was plenty of Sidney Sheldon and Jacqueline Susanne to go with it. Ha ha. But it was the movie version of the book The Witches of Eastwick that turned me on to Updike, Bellow and especially Kurt Vonnegut. There was an ease and freedom to the words that seemed incredibly authentic; they just screamed “go!” And I liked that. Just go, go, go and don’t stop until you’re done.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Vonnegut with cut ins from Hunter S. Thompson. You see, amid all the fun and frivolity in their writing, there’s a lot of important stuff going on beneath, but it slides past you into your subconscious before you know what’s being done to you. By the time you figure it out, it’s too late. The idea is there, and it keeps you thinking for years. Aspiring to such a skill is mighty lofty and I don’t want to get fat-headed about it, but it would be grand if I could do what they did.
Heuer Lost And Found
A. B. Funkhauser
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Fiction,
Metaphysical, Paranormal, Dark Humor
Publisher: Solstice Publishing
Date of Publication: April 23, 2015
Number of pages: 237
Word Count: 66,235
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.
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Fresh writing filled with rich vocabulary, this story features a vivid cast of colourful, living-breathing characters. This one will keep you reading late into the night until the final page.—Yvonne Hess, Charter Member, The Brooklin 7
Ms. A.B Funkhauser is a brilliant and wacky writer …Her distinctive voice tells an intriguing story that mixes moral conflicts with dark humor.—Rachael Stapleton, Author, The Temple of Indra’s Jewel and Curse of the Purple Delhi Sapphire
The macabre black comedy 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
Heuer Lost and Found is a quirky and irreverent story about a man who dies and finds his spirit trapped in a funeral home with an ex-lover who happens to be the mortician. The characterization is rich the story well-told.—Cryssa Bazos, Writer’s Community of Durham Region, Ontario, Canada
Author A. B. Funkhauser strikes a macabre cord with her book "Heuer Lost and Found". I found it to have a similar feel to the HBO series "Six Feet Under".--Young, Author, A Harem Boy’s Saga Vol I, II, and III
Enid Krause nee Engler had made her way down to the embalming room where he lay waiting for her. She paused on her way to dither over some emails and, he noted with approval, to check out Kijiji for vintage GTO’s. Next, she mucked about with the coffee maker, juicing up her brew with two bags of pre-packaged Columbian. This, he noted wryly, was not the wisest thing to do when one’s hands were already shaky. It was apparent to him that she liked her booze as much as he did, and if she were to play around with sharp things, she stood a good chance of facing him sooner, rather than later.
“It is here that you must speak to her,” the lamp intruded, muddling his thoughts and destroying his pleasure. He did not like this popping in and out at will inside his head. He hoped her powers were limited to audiences in the basement, but not so—she was a body trapped in a house she did not choose, yet her spirit travelled, permeating the mind at will. “If you want to move on, it must be so. Put things right, mein Schön.”
He frowned at her use of ‘Schön.’ It was his term of endearment, yet she took it for her own, as if her right to trample him escheated once he agreed to do her bidding.
Make amends. Sure. The Holy Moly Book of Hooey said so, but to which place would he go thereafter? The land of milk and honey, where everyone ran around in bed sheets? Or the other place, where no amount of sunscreen would help? “Neither,” the lamp said confidently, her words ironic, because she was a lamp and obviously hadn’t been anywhere. “To your purpose,” she said, twisting him in the direction of Enid, who muttered under her breath as she fumbled with her earrings.
He grinned, longing to see what she would do next: Fraulein Engler was obviously struggling over his dramatic return, and for good reason. They had not parted on the best of terms. She wept sentimentally in the coroner’s suite—woman’s tears—much to her colleague’s chagrin, and now she was dragging her feet like a shotgun bride. Walking alongside her, he thought about theatres and floorboards and actors moving from mark to mark, their steps mapped out strategically on the floor with sticky tape. “This is why people spend so much time and money on make believe, Mächen,” he said. “It’s so much better to watch.”
Enid managed to get past the door that separated the O.R. from Weibigand’s outer hall, where she was greeted by the buzz and hum of a big fan that would keep his stink off of her. He concentrated on the noisy traffic that was her brain: like car tires spinning, rubber burning, a lonely heart hammering, and an incomprehensible fear. He was in despicable shape and it would take every ounce of skill to bring him to heel.
About the Author:
A.B. Funkhauser is a funeral director, fiction writer 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.