Monday, October 24, 2016

"Scooter Nation" by A. B. Funkhauser

Scooter Nation
(Unapologetic Lives Book 2)
by A. B. Funkhauser

Scooter Nation is the second book in the Unapologetic Lives series by A. B. Funkhauser. Also available: Heuer Lost and Found (read my blog post).

Scooter Nation is currently on tour with Bewitching Book Tours. The tour stops here today for a guest post by the author, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

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 Video

The old humpback with the cloudy eye and Orwellian proletarian attitude pushed past the young embalmer with a curt “Entschuldigen Sie bitte!—Excuse me!” That Charles E. Forsythe, bespectacled and too tall for his own good, didn’t speak a word of German was incidental. The man grunting at him, or, more accurately, through him was Weibigand senior embalmer Heino Schade, who’d been gossiped about often enough at Charlie’s previous place of employ: “Weibigand’s,” the hairdresser had winked knowingly, “is like a Stalag. God only knows where the lampshades come from.”
Whether she was referring to Schade specifically or the Weibigand’s generally didn’t matter. What he gleaned from the talk and what he took with him when he left to go work for them was that he was not expected to understand, only to follow orders.
Schade, muttering over a cosmetic pot that wouldn’t open, suddenly tossed it; the airborne projectile missing Charlie’s black curls by inches. Jumping out of the way, he wondered what to do next.
Newly arrived from Seltenheit and Sons, his new master’s most capricious competitor, expectations that he perform beyond the norm were high. Trading tit for tat, his old boss Hartmut Fläche had fought and lost battles with Karl Heinz Senior since 1937, and wasn’t about to abandon the bad feeling, even as he approached his ninetieth year. That his star apprentice had left under a tenacious cloud to go work for the enemy would no doubt hasten old Harty’s resolve to plot every last Weibigand into the ground before he got there first.
It was incumbent upon Charlie, therefore, to dish some dirt hopefully juicy enough to shutter Seltenheit and Son’s for good.
Stories of the two funeral directors’ acrimony were legend: late night calls to G-men during the war asserting that Weibigand was a Nazi; anonymous reports to the Board of Mortuary Science that Fläche reused caskets; hints at felonious gambling; price-fixing; liquor-making; tax evading; wife swapping; cross dressing; pet embalming; covert sausage making; smokehouses; whore houses; Commie-loving; Semite-hating; and drug using sexual merry-making of an unwholesomeness so heinous as to not be spoken of, but merely communicated through raised eyebrows, was just a scratch.
Ducking under the low rise water pipes that bisected Weibigand’s ceiling in the lower service hall, Charlie shuddered with the thought of retributive action, if only because old men were scary and he was still young. At twenty, he had finished his requisite course requirements, albeit at an advanced age. A lot of the guys were finishing at seventeen, only to be packed off to Vietnam. But Charlie had been delayed by way of the family pig farm which in many ways, could save his hide in a pinch. As the eldest male in a houseful of women, running the farm made him essential if the Draft ever became an issue. It hadn’t so far—he was too old, the 1950 and up birthdates pulled by lot would never include his. Yet he was haunted by the prospect of a violent end.
His mother—a gentle soul who knew the Old Testament chapter and verse—never missed an opportunity to discourage his dreams for a life in the city. This only aggravated matters. He was different, and he knew it. For that reason, he had to leave.
“You’ll wind up in hell if you try,” she said fondly, every time he negotiated the subject. In the end, it was a kick in the ass from the toothless old neighbor that sent him running far and fast off the front porch: “Yer not like the others, are ya sweetie?”
“Don’t expect an easy time from the Missus,” Heino Schade said offhandedly from his vantage over a pasty deceased.
“Mrs. Weibigand?” Charlie asked, noting that the old man used Madame Dubarry commercial cosmetic in place of the heavy pancake Seltenheit’s favored.
“You assisted her out of a particularly difficult situation. She will expect more as a show of your constant devotion.” He knocked his glass eye back into place with a long spring forceps.
Charlie understood. He hadn’t expected a call from the Lodge that infamous night, but then, it wasn’t every day that a good friend of the Potentate was found dead in a hotel room under a hooker.
“In flagrante delicto,” Schade continued ominously in what appeared to be Latin.
“Indeed,” Charlie said, faking a working knowledge of the dead language; the unfamiliar term, he guessed, having more to do with what Karl Heinz Weibigand was doing with a woman in a seedy hotel room, than his desire to ask Schade how he made his dead look so dewy.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
"I came into this novel expecting something on par with its predecessor, and was not disappointed in the least. The characters who were so full-fledged and rich grow and develop by leaps and bounds, especially when pushed to their boundaries. Funkhauser digs down deep into each character and shatters the lines of morality, showing us the darkness and light within all of them... and forcing us to take a good, hard, look at it ourselves as we decide, as readers, who we should really be cheering for. It is a difficult decision, in the end, and I think a second read is in order to really decide." ~ A. DOnofirio
"If you ever wondered what went on behind the closed doors of a mortuary, then this books for you. It’s filled with lying, cheating, despicable characters who keep you interested throughout as to what they are going to do next and what their end game really is. There are some people to root for as well though the diabolical ones steal the show. Funkhauser must have extensive knowledge of the mortuary business from the décor to the embalming process because the detail was exemplary. It is clear the writer knows their facts. The images were so precise that you felt you were in the scene with the characters. The book may be a little macabre for some people’s tastes but I for one found it a refreshing change from the usual dramas. [...] In short, read this book. It is a great read that will keep you guessing throughout." ~ T Th
"Funkhauser's second book is an easier read than the first and equally funny. The mixture of comedy and drama and realism made it a real page turner that can be read in one sitting. I'm looking forward to the next one." ~ Eleanor Lecker

Guest Post by the Author
Life and Humor as a Funeral Director or Humor in a Tough Spot
Requirements for admission into mortuary school varies from country to country. Here in Canada, in the province of Ontario, potential candidates must first complete a supervised forty-hour "try out" at a funeral home before even writing the admission’s test. There are some very good reasons behind the forty-hour observation, chief among them being the measure of a candidate’s suitability as seen through the eyes of a seasoned professional. The other big reason is for the direct benefit of the candidates themselves: Is the job really what they think it is?
Nine times out of ten, it isn’t. Funeral directing is (unexpectedly) very physical, requiring a strong body core, good knees and an iron grasp. Access to a large bottle of aspirin after a long day is recommended along with a few rigorous stretching exercises to ensure an easier vault out of bed when the alarm goes off at 4 a.m. Wine is optional, but not recommended if working the next day. And a degree of tolerance must be struck with the snow shovel (in northern climes) because it’s the first thing an intern sees before the vacuum and the toilet brush.
While many larger establishments employ cleaning staff, smaller independent family-runs more often do not, relying on the staff to see to building maintenance much like firefighters do at the fire hall between calls. The bonds of camaraderie are strengthened while washing the hearse, pruning the garden, or tidying up in Room 4. It is this type of interaction that gets the most traction in my fiction.
Funeral directing is often misunderstood owing to the breadth of fiction out there on the page and on film. Loopy, goofy, drunk and sinister are the more common traits shown. As designated health care professionals, our only recourse to counter these impressions is to serve our client families well, be the best people we can be, and fiercely maintain that level of confidentiality required of us by law and by a code of ethics as old as the profession itself.

While it’s tough to defend ourselves through closed mouths, it is easier to shine a light on the "good", the "sweet", "bittersweet", and even humorous aspects of the work through word-of-mouth, or, in my case humorous fiction. Funeral directors, like everybody else, can catch the flu, slip and fall, crash the car, lose the flowers, forget to order the food, fall in love, get divorced, or find a bottle when they get sad. They can also laugh - with each other, or with colleagues at the coroner’s office or local hospital - over last night’s sports scores, Bill Maher, or the price of gas.
Readers will find a mix of light and dark in Heuer Lost and Found (my first) and Scooter Nation for the real reason that we cannot appreciate the "laugh" without the serious bedrock that anchors it. Like all fiction, humorous fiction must make sense in order to fly, must dwell in a place that is relatable to the audience. It’s tough to do, particularly with "mirth" always sitting on my shoulder. But I try.

With a wink and big bottle of aspirin,
I am A.B. Funkhauser,
Mother. Mortician. Monkey.

About the Author
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 and 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, and Winner Best Humor Summer Indie Book Awards 2016, Metamorph Publishing, Scooter picks up where Heuer left off, this time with the lens on the funeral home as it falls into the hands of a woeful sybarite.
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.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win one of five print copies of Scooter Nation by A. B. Funkhauser (open internationally).