Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Character Interview: Lauren Staab

It’s time to meet another interesting character.  I’d like to welcome Lauren Staab, the protagonist from J.Q. Rose’s “Deadly Undertaking”.  This book has a mixture of romance, mystery and the paranormal.

J.Q. will award one lucky person a free PDF of Deadly Undertaking, so make sure you leave a comment to this article.  And all of her mysteries are available at Smashwords are 75% OFF through July 31. 

Here’s a little about the story.

Lauren Staab knew there would be dead bodies around when she returned home. After all, her family is in the funeral business, Staab and Blood Funeral Home. Still, finding an extra body on the floor of the garage between the hearse and the flower car shocked her. Lauren’s plan to return to her hometown to help care for her mother and keep the books for the funeral home suddenly turns upside down in a struggle to prove she and her family are not guilty of murdering the man. But will the real killer return for her, her dad, her brother? Her mother’s secrets, a killer, a handsome policeman, and a shadow man muddle up her intention to have a simple life. Welcome home, Lauren!

Let’s begin our visit. Tell us a little about yourself:

Hello. My name is Lauren Staab. <extends hand for a hand shake> Glad to meet you. So happy you could come to meet me at the funeral home. We have a visitation here this evening and I have to “swing door” for it and be around to answer the phone.
Please follow me to the family room. The family won’t be here for a couple of hours. It’s a good place for conversation. There’s coffee, tea, water right there on the counter. Can I get you anything? Yes, the coffee is fresh.

Okay. Let’s have a seat so we can talk. <waiting for you to choose a comfy seat>
You may already know my mother was stricken with Alzheimer’s Disease and is now in the nursing home. <easing into the red wing-backed chair across from you>  I moved back home from Grand Rapids, Michigan, to be here to help my dad with the bookkeeping and everything else he needs for me to do. Yes, I’m the one that dusts the caskets and displays the flowers for the funerals and visitations, even racing them out to the cemetery to place at the gravesite before anyone arrives for the interment service.

So I’m the go-to-person for my dad because he trusts me. I’m reliable. My brother works here too, but he’s not much help. He hates the funeral business, so he’s happy only when it’s his day off which is not often enough.

And then there’s Henry who flits in and out of my life, but you probably won’t see him because he’s a shadow man. Oh, don’t be afraid. He’s harmless. I have no idea why Henry turns up at inopportune times in my life. He’s especially annoying when he interrupts me in the middle of a date or when I’m trying to juggle so many things at once. <shaking her head>

He’s not mean or scary like some ghosts are. I mean, really, I like him, but I don’t like him interfering in my life. Plus, he never tells me why he’s here at our funeral home. <leaning toward you> Do you have any idea?

No, but I’ll certainly keep my eyes and ears open for Henry. How did your background get you involved in this novel?

I’m the daughter of a funeral director. The author is the daughter of a funeral director. I guess JQ thought it would be fun and entertaining to read a story that takes place in a funeral home.

What’s your greatest strength?   And of course, we want to know the opposite, your greatest weakness.

Strength--I’m reliable, as I said, and organized. 

Weakness--I am too organized like overly left-brained organized at times. I drive my dad and brother crazy checking and re-checking that everything is in place so we can help families through this difficult time in their lives. I want their day to be as stress-free as possible.

What is it about this story that sets it apart from the others?

          Henry, the shadow man. I never really appreciated him in my life until the police accused me of murdering the man in the garage and leaving him there for us to discover him lying near the hearse. Henry was my protector and body guard-- no pun intended. But how can a ghost be my hero?

Are you the type of person who always seeks out the company of others?

I do like people. I think I inherited that from my dad. He could be friends with anyone and treats each person with respect whether rich or poor. I try to be like that too.
What do you do to relax after a day’s work?

People not in the funeral business don’t understand how a family’s small business like this works. We don’t have an average 8-5 job. We work any time of day or night when we get a call. Relax after a day’s work? We are actually on-call every minute of every day—24/7. But if I get some time for myself, I like listening to music, dancing around my condo and reading whenever I can.

Which do you prefer, music or television?  

Music. Piano music 

Here’s a glimpse from the story.

In this excerpt, the reader is introduced to Henry, the shadow man, a ghost character who interrupts Lauren's life--always at the wrong time. But really, when is a good time for a ghost to interrupt your life?

Lauren decided she needed to know if the dead man truly was Tony. If so, she and Piper had to find Stephanie, his fiancé and their best friend.

She returned to her desk, uncovered Detective Richards’ business card from under the files on her desk, and called.

“Richards.” he answered as if he had no time for interruptions.

Lauren was taken aback for a minute, expecting a secretary or switchboard person to answer and connect her to the detective.

“Hello, Detective Richards. This is Lauren Staab, at the Staab and Blood Funeral Home where the murder occurred this morning.” She stalled for enough time to get her thoughts together.

“Yes, I’m quite aware the murder was at the funeral home, Ms. Staab. How can I help you?”

What an arrogant man. “I’m calling to confirm the identity of the person who was killed. I’ve heard several reports.”

“We’re not revealing the name of the deceased.”

“Well can you tell me if his name is Tony?”

“Sorry. I cannot.” His voice softened. “I’m not at liberty at this time to tell you. I completely understand your concern. Do you know Anthony—er. Tony?”

“Yes, I do. He’s my friend’s fiancé.”

“I know the rumor mill is probably producing more names than this, but we have
to be sure of the victim’s identity before we release it. Do you understand the situation?” 

Lauren detected a note of sincerity in his voice. Did the man have feelings
after all?

“Oh, yes I understand. But since he was in our garage, will someone call me to let me know?” She couldn’t help using the snarky tone.

“Yes. I’ll be sure to call you as soon as we have a definitive identification. You have a good evening.” The phone clicked to silence.

“And you have a good night too!” She slammed the headset into the cradle, yanked the desk drawer open, and retrieved her bag. She didn’t like being dismissed like that.

She reached into her bag to find her pack of cigarettes, pulled it out, threw it back in, and pulled the beat up pack out again. So much for trying once more to quit smoking.

When she looked up, she glimpsed a smoky shadow hovering by the door. The pungent smell of spicy carnations wafted through the room, bringing on the three little sneezes.  She worked in a funeral home. She shouldn’t be allergic to flowers. Maybe she was allergic to him.

Lauren faced the silhouette of a man dressed in a long trench coat and fedora hat. He stood, arms akimbo, evidently looking straight at her.

She had expected the shadow man to show up sometime after the terrifying events of the morning. He lurked around the rooms in the funeral home appearing whenever he wished. Because no one else ever mentioned the apparition, Lauren assumed she was the only one he communicated with. At times she questioned if Henry was real or just her overtired brain playing tricks on her.

His timing for wanting to talk was usually bad. This murder was definitely a bad time. “Henry, I can’t talk now. I’m leaving to meet Piper.” She shoved the drawer closed with her foot.

“All right,” he said in his breathy voice. “I guess you’re doing okay if you can go off to meet your friend.” Then he was gone, slipping through a fold into another dimension.

About the author:

After writing feature articles in magazines, newspapers, and online magazines for over fifteen years, J.Q. Rose entered the world of fiction. Her published mysteries are Terror on Sunshine Boulevard, Dangerous Sanctuary, and Deadly Undertaking. Blogging, photography, Pegs and Jokers board games, and travel are the things that keep her out of trouble. She and her husband, Gardener Ted, spend winters in Florida and summers up north camping and hunting toads, frogs, and salamanders with her four grandsons and granddaughter.

J.Q.’s blog—Focused on Story http://www.jqrose.com/

J. Q.  Rose Amazon Author Page http://tinyurl.com/aeuv4m4

For a musical selection, J.Q. opted for Jim Brickman’s Angel Eyes https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jcN20Efpq0
Buy links

Don't forget to leave a comment for the chance to win a PDF copy of "Deadly Undertaking".


  1. Thanks so much for inviting Lauren over for a visit on motown mysteries.
    JQ Rose

    1. Always happy to have another interesting character stop by for a visit.

  2. Sounds really good! Legallyblonde1961 at yahoo dot com

    1. Kara,

      You're the winner of the ebook copy from JQ Rose. Please send me an email (motownmysteries@gmail.com) so we can get that copy to you.