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.
Is it really worth it?
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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
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…
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.
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.
Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
Writing never crossed my mind even though the bulk of my early work years focused on correspondence, press releases and even speech writing. (laughs) I guess I was prepping for this and didn’t know it. When I was young, I wanted to marry Prince Andrew, command armies or become the Prime Minister of Canada. After graduating school, I took my place behind a reception desk—the first of many.
When did you first consider yourself a “writer”?
When I gave my first reading at an open mic nite. It was in a bar and the audience was full of authors, many already published. When they laughed at the right moments and for the right reasons, that told me that I was on to something. That’s when I felt ‘real.’
How long did it take to get your first book published?
Not long. Fate kinda intervened. I had four manuscripts under my belt and that’s when a friend put me on to #pitmad on Twitter. I got hits right away, and through these initial contacts I was compelled to hone my synopsis, elevator pitch and query letter. By the third pitch party, I had over thirty tags and log lines. Solstice Publishing found me soon after.
Do you do another job except for writing and can you tell us more about it?
I’m a licensed funeral director which means I arrange and take out funerals. I’m an embalmer as well. Two years ago, with the support of my family, I took a break from full-time work to concentrate on my writing. That really paid off. I maintain my license and am on call.
What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarize it in less than 20 words what would you say?
HEUER LOST AND FOUND is my debut and is the first in a six volume series. The elevator pitch is as follows: Dead cooze hound lawyer trapped in a funeral parlor relies on boozy undertaker and wise cracking spirit guide to set him free.
Who is your publisher? Or do you self-publish?
I’m with Summer Solstice, a division of Solstice Publishing out of Farmington, Missouri.
How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
The first book took thirty years. That is to say it’s the sum total of life experience and a ton of observations. The writing, learning, editing, honing took five years and is on going. For the subsequent three manuscripts, it took about a year for each of them to get to a cogent first draft. I really have my groove on, you might say.
What can we expect from you in the future? ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
My tastes range from campy to philosophical to romantic to paranormal. I also have a taste for classic cars so it’s not unusual to find a car character or two in my work, and it’s amazing how technical jargon can be adapted to comedy. My next three years will be devoted to readying the following three manuscripts in the series: SCOOTER NATION, THE HEUER EFFECT, and POOR UNDERTAKER. Each on its own is meritoriously direct in conveying a number of my favorite themes all within the framework of the funeral parlor, which changes hands as the decades pass and in one instance, actually becomes a Euro style resto bar and grille. The cool thing for me as the writer is that there’s some overlapping which I really love. A character that dies at the end of book three is born on page two of book four. For that, I have Quentin Tarantino to thank: PULP FICTION taught me that I don’t have to stay linear.
What genre would you place your books into?
I describe them as adult, paranormal, contemporary fiction with a hint of gonzo. Amazon has placed HEUER under Occult, Horror and Humorous Fiction which also works.
What made you decide to write that genre of book?
I like to blame it on the characters, but in truth, I think the comedic elements were a response to a need to give the reader a break from some of the tougher scenes. The protagonists coming to grips with their life situations, I’m told, could be quite visceral and I must have felt that while I was writing it. Death and mourning are serious subjects, but I didn’t want the story to weigh the reader down with every chapter. There had to be a lightness to it to let the reader know that something was going to give.
Do you have a favorite character from your books? And why are they your favorite?
I love them all, but my villains seem to demand the bulk of my attention. One, for example, got her own book because the beta readers insisted on it. Why is she this way? What happened to her to make her such? It was amazing the through this exploration, she went from a cartoon to a flesh and blood human being capable of commanding sympathy and understanding.
How long have you been writing?, and who or what inspired you to write?
I’ve been writing fiction for a little over five years now and I have to give the credit for inspiration to trial and error and having the courage to put a foot out the door every day. I’ve failed at many things, but I’ve had a few successes too. The best way to make sense of it was to put it into words and have those words spoken through the mouths of fictional characters. I’m grateful to them for that!
Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? ie You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?
I can work practically anywhere, but what I do is dictated by the time of year. Since breaking from full time work, I treat writing like a day job. I have two teenagers, so once they’re out the door in the morning, I’m at my desk. A work day runs from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. with breaks (dentist appointments, cutting the grass) Monday to Friday. Whether I’m blogging, tweeting, editing, promoting myself or others, I’m always writing. Summer months and NaNoWriMo are dedicated to NEW projects.
Do you read all the reviews of your book/books?
Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
Title comes first. It usually appears during edits on the previous work. Next come pop scenes and a lot of mulling before I lay down the first draft during NaNo.
How do you come up with characters names and place names in your books?
I apply the theory of good band names: take two unrelated things and put them together; or I’ll grab from a character trait. For example, a character who reads classical literature is bound to wind up with a name from that historical era – Jocasta, Socrates, Hephaestion are good ones.
Are character names and place names decided after their creation? Or do you pick a character/place name and then invent them?
After. They name themselves.
Do you decide on character traits (ie shy, quiet, tomboy girl) before writing the whole book or as you go along?
As I go along. They evolve, just as we do as flesh and blood human beings.
Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in your books? (Morals as in like Aesops Fables type of "The moral of this story is..")
Absolutely. There’s a point to everything.
Which format of book do you prefer, eBook, hardback, or paperback?
No preference. A book’s a book.
What is your favorite book and Why? Have you read it more than once?
God Bless You Mr. Rosewater by Kurt Vonnegut. I never laughed so hard at irony in my whole life.
Do you think books transfer to movies well? Which is you favorite/worst book to movie transfer?
It depends on the director, casting, and SCRIPT. I thought The English Patient was an absolute marvel.
Your favorite food is?
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Your favorite Author is?
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.