Unapologetic Lives, #2
by A.B. Funkhauser
Date of Publication: March 11th 2016
Publisher: Solstice Publishing
Cover Artist: Michelle Crocker
Aging managing director Charlie Forsythe begins his work day with a phone call to Jocasta Binns, the unacknowledged illegitimate daughter of Weibigand Funeral Home founder Karl Heinz Sr. Alma Wurtz, a scooter bound sextenarian, community activist, and neighborhood pain in the ass is emptying her urine into the flower beds, killing the petunias. Jocasta cuts him off, reminding him that a staff meeting has been called. Charlie, silenced, is taken aback: he has had no prior input into the meeting and that, on its own, makes it sinister.
The second novel in the Unapologetic Lives series, Scooter Nation takes place two years after Heuer Lost and Found. This time, funeral directors Scooter Creighton and Carla Moretto Salinger Blue take center stage as they battle conflicting values, draconian city by-laws, a mendacious neighborhood gang bent on havoc, and a self-absorbed fitness guru whose presence shines an unwanted light on their quiet Michigan neighborhood.
Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/oqmrW_t92jc
Flipping on the lower foyer lights, Scooter peered around the corner into the long, dark hall. The back door was ajar, its frosted center window glowing eerily against the garage lamps that came on with a timer. “You have tripped the motion sensor,” Scooter lied, gripping the bat. “And there is no money or formaldehyde on the premises.” It was no secret among the types who made it their business to know that a formaldehyde-soaked cigarette would send the one who smoked it off the edge of the flat earth, and so therefore had a street value above the usual wholesale price of embalming fluid.
“We use non formaldehyde based embalming fluid.”
A scratching noise came out of the newly refurbished selection room just off the hall to his right. Darker after the renovation, the selection room no longer contained full caskets, only cutaways featured beautifully in a softly lit wall display that conveyed just enough ambient light to guide a stranger’s way.
A figure emerged from the shadows.
Scooter, fearing ghosts of funeral directors past, growled his fiercest growl, raising the bat high above his head: “Get the hell out of here. I don’t have time for your shit.”
A pffft from a single match lit a cigarette in the din.
“Easy, cowboy. I’m just an old lady looking for a plug in.” She stepped into the foyer light.
Scooter Creighton, startled, lowered the bat. “You can walk?”
“Of course I can walk,” Alma Wurtz puffed, her red-coned hair redolent under an ancient light fixture. “It’s just better if I don’t.” She tossed the match carelessly on the floor. “You got a wall plug I can use? My scooter’s crapped out on me…”
Toronto born 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.
Her debut novel Heuer Lost and Found, released in April 2015, examines the day to day workings of a funeral home and the people who staff it. Winner of the Preditors & Editors Reader’s Poll for Best Horror 2015, and the New Apple EBook Award 2016 for Horror, Heuer Lost and Found is the first installment in Funkhauser’s Unapologetic Lives series. Her sophomore effort, Scooter Nation, released March 11, 2016 through Solstice Publishing. Winner of the New Apple Ebook Award 2016 for Humor, Scooter has also been nominated for Best Humor Summer Indie Book Awards 2016.
A devotee of the gonzo style pioneered by the late Hunter S. Thompson, Funkhauser attempts to shine a light on difficult subjects by aid of humorous storytelling. “In gonzo, characters operate without filters which means they say and do the kinds of things we cannot in an ordered society. Results are often comic but, hopefully, instructive.”
Funkhauser is currently working on Shell Game, a subversive feline “whodunit” begun during NaNoWriMo 2015.
MY INTERVIEW WITH A.B. FUNKHAUSER
How would you describe you style of writing to someone that has never read your work?
It’s elastic, which means that it conforms to the character and the circumstances. For example, funeral home manager Charles E. Forsyth is a dapper old dude from the old school. His style of dress, thought and speech is firmly rooted in the 1950’s and so the writing becomes very formal; elaborate even. Carla Blue and Scooter Creighton, on the other hand, are very much creatures of the now; impatient, on the move: their scenes are rapid, and staccato-like. It’s almost musical.
What mindset or routine do you feel the need to set when preparing to write (in general whether you are working on a project or just free writing)?
I spend months on preparation. Not plotting, per se, just mulling. I may flesh out an outline, but usually, the mull produces random scenes that either make it into the final, or just serve as a precursor to a larger theme(s). Once I know how it ends, that’s when I sit and write it down. That can take anywhere from a month to three for a first draft. So the mind set at prep time is rather serious; the writing is fun.
Do you take your character prep to heart? Do you nurture the growth of each character all the way through to the page? Do you people watch to help with development? Or do you build upon your character during story creation?
They evolve as I write them down. Quite often, they will hijack me and take me into exciting territory. These unexpected turns usually make up the best parts. I don’t people watch as a rule, but I do listen. The tone of a crowd — angry, excited, upbeat — gets me going faster than what the individuals in that crowd might be wearing. Tone feeds speculation, I color in my own details. I do cast the characters before I write them down so that I know what they look and sound like. That’s how I keep them straight. I’m a portrait artist in my spare time, so casting is a lot of fun for me.
Have you found yourself bonding with any particular character? If so which one(s)?
I love them all, but the morally ambiguous ones are the most enjoyable, not because they run to the dark, but because they spend so much time rationalizing their choices. That fascinates me.
Do you have a character that you have been working on that you can't wait to put to paper?
No, because once a character like that makes him or herself known, then I stop everything and get them down be it in a sentence, paragraph, scene or whole chapter. It’s a lightning strike that cannot be ignored. I have file folders full of them, and I return to them whenever their ‘scenes’ pay me a visit.
Have you ever felt that there was something inside of you that you couldn't control? If so what? If no what spurs you to reach for the unexperienced?
Fantastic question, but I’ll err on the side of caution! Lol. I leave reckless abandon to my characters. That’s why I write fiction.
The Complete Scooter Q&A: