FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Samantha Lien at Roger Charlie
Author Barnaby Hazen highlights contemporary fiction with musical tracks embedded directly into the pages of his novel
TAOS, N.M. — April 2017 — Misfortunes of T-Funk (Apr. 1, 2017) follows two musicians who refuse to quit. The contemporary fiction release from Barnaby Hazen also embeds his own musical tracks directly into the chapters of the novel to further immerse readers into the story.
Trying desperately to find an audience for their hard-edged “grunge” music, Theo and Judah are childhood friends who enroll in an unusual college called The University of Jazz and Music Technology. Attracted at first by the means within the school to professionally record their own original music, the two friends eagerly embark on what could be a lifelong journey – but the endeavor has an alternate effect.
It’s something the author knows all too well, as Hazen pulls directly from his personal experience in music. “I must admit,” said Hazen, “I’m having a lot more fun putting fictional characters through such hardship than I had on my own.”
The author’s decision to incorporate his original music into the chapters of Misfortunes of T-Funk is an excellent compliment to the story. Each of the four recordings are placed at significant moments in Theo and Judah’s story sometimes in direct relation, other times as an ironic side trail, but always intentionally to enhance the reader’s journey through the book.
Hazen’s storytelling style is influenced by Henry Miller, as well as Russian authors Fyodor Dostoevsky and Vladimir Nabokov – in particular, Nabokov’s Invitation to a Beheading. “It’s fearlessly, unapologetically ‘outside’ as we say in jazz,” said Hazen. “But the alienation, absurdism and disassociation rang a chord when I read it that triggered something in me – a realization about there being no rules when you have a voice and something to say.”
Hazen is an author, editor and musician, and regularly contributes to the education-based journal The Bud Hawthorne Revue. In 2015, he debuted a full-length collection of nine-strange tales on convenience store fiction in Seven Eleven Forgotten and Other Stories.
Free Kindle Promotion through Amazon April 1-4th,
Barnaby Hazen is an author, editor and musician. Driven strongly by collaboration, it seems natural his first venture into writing began with a friend. Seven Eleven Stories periodical took shape in 2014 and just one year later, Seven Eleven Forgotten and Other Stories debuted with a full-length collection featuring nine strange tales on convenience store fiction.
In 2017, Misfortunes of T-Funk, the first in a series, pulls directly from Hazen’s own life in music. Having been a lifelong, dedicated listener, teacher and performer, his latest novel incorporates his self-recorded and produced musical tracks directly into the chapters of his new novel. Hazen’s music illuminates his main characters and further elaborates on the story, creating a unique and personal soundtrack for readers of the book.
Having spent years as an educator, Barnaby’s time as an elementary school music teacher particularly inspired him to become involved with The Bud Hawthorne Revue. He writes and edits the publication, along with Mr. Hawthorne himself, and is eager to continue offering contributions to literary culture given his unique perspective on writing.
Hazen lives in Taos, New Mexico with his wife Sarah and their adorably troublesome pets.
Stay current on all of his upcoming fiction at SevenElevenStories.com.
Misfortunes of T-Funk
April 1, 2017
An ensemble sets off on a dark comedy of errors and uncertain conclusions, featuring original music throughout the story.
Theo and Judah, two childhood friends, are trying desperately to find an audience for their hard-edged, “grunge” music as they move past their twenties and feel the need to establish careers. Together, they enroll in an unusual college, called The University of Jazz and Music Technology.
Attracted at first by the means within the school to professionally record their own original music, the two friends embark on what could be a lifelong journey. But the endeavor has an alternate effect, as Theo begins to question his musical efforts with Judah.
Entanglements with co-eds quickly complicate matters. Theo and Judah hit as many rough spots as any amateur band may find along the way, including a disastrous mini-tour of the northwest during spring break. Little do they know, the misfortunes have just begun…
Find more at SevenElevenStories.com.
For more from the author, see “where the price of convenience is strangeness” in Hazen’s Seven Eleven Forgotten and Other Stories.
The Pen and Muse Interview:
Where are you from? Tell us a little about yourself!
I’ve been in Taos, New Mexico for the past 15 years. The only other place I’ve lived for this long is Los Angeles—I was born there, and lived most of my twenties playing in bands and writing.
Tell us about your book? How did it get started?
This book is the first in a series about a couple of musicians and their obstacles. I have enjoyed many good movies and biographies about bands and musicians over the years—as well as fictional depictions of the lifestyle—but I’ve always felt there was something missing, at least compared with my own experiences as a musician; sort of cracks in the sidewalk the public is unaware of.
And so this series, Misfortunes of T-funk, is just that—a trilogy calling to light things people might not have thought about in the world of performing and recording music. I’ll give you an example—a knob breaks off of your amp just as you’re setting off on a series of shows. Now you’ve got to either stop off at a shop along the way somewhere, and see if you can get a rush repair done on the item, or more likely you just grab a pair of plyers and have one more annoying detail to work around at every gig you play. It’s not a problem you can easily romanticize, or that you’d even necessarily give a second thought to, until a dozen other little things happen and you still have to get from one gig to the next and do your thing and mean it.
For me I’ve known these things can be very humorous to look back on, though not necessarily while they’re happening. So T-Funk brings these overshadowed stories to the reader, while also shedding some light on the dedication and passion it takes to keep going back and writing, recording and performing music, even after bad luck and trouble has set you back countless times before.
How do you create your characters?
Usually before I start writing. In a radio interview I recently compared it to acting. Not that I have much experience as an actor, just a couple things in high school, but it seems to me the process of getting into a character for a role you’ll play has much in common with writing about a person you’re making up. If the background is different from yours, you have to reach to get a look inside and find what would be motivating them and these things.
What fascinated me while I was writing this was realizing that whether I identify easily with some collection of characters or not, I cannot afford to make any judgements about them while I’m writing. I realized this when a reader was running down her own assessments of a couple of the relationships, and I was shocked by her conclusions because I hadn’t developed any moral framework about it at all. I think that if I did it would taint the water—I have to operate neutrally, tossing the variables in as the story may go, then just watching what happens and writing it down.
What inspires and what got you started in writing?
I don’t think I’ve ever felt I have any choice but to write. I took a long break from writing fiction while I was working on my music degrees, but of course I had to write academically in that time, and wrote a little here and there on the side. But I also created most of the songwriting and composing catalog in those years. So lately, getting back into fiction just feels like returning home.
Where do you write? Is there something you need in order to write (music, drinks?)
I need notebooks. I don’t really compose on the computer much or anything. If I ever hired a typist, I would feel so bad though—my handwriting is awful, and there are all these arrows that point here and back there and things crossed out then restored, and the words, “insert back,” or “insert forward,” when I think of something that’s out of sequence. It all makes sense to me but I can’t imagine explaining it to anyone.
But as for where, I do like writing in warm weather outdoors. Like at a beach, or a park or like that—as long as I’m anonymous. I can’t really expect to write in public in Taos because it’s such a small town, I’ll probably face too many disruptions just with people saying “hi” and all.
How do you get your ideas for writing?
Sometimes from life, sometimes from dreams. Sometimes it’s just a mood. I’ve felt really low some mornings, then written about something totally other than my life circumstance, to feel purged afterward, as all that was important it seems was to relate the feeling itself. One of my favorite short stories I’ve written to date is “Princess 7,” from my first book, Seven Eleven Forgotten and Other Stories, and that’s how that happened—I felt really low and got this idea about the 7-Eleven sign and wrote a fable. So yeah, my moods inform a lot of what I write.
What do you like to read?
I am trying to read contemporary literature, especially indie stuff. But really, my go to is reading literature of previous centuries. I especially like absurdism and surrealism, or to at least find elements of that in a book. I prefer fiction but also can get on a poetry binge.
What would your advice to be for authors or aspiring authors in regards to writing?
I would really consider putting off publishing, despite how easy it is these days. I think it’s good to write for a few years for most of us anyway, before we start thinking about an audience or the public. I certainly did. Publishing can be very distracting and I think the important thing is developing a voice, and a relationship to one’s muse first.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I love the name of your blog—“Pen and Muse.” The word, Muse—I think it’s underused these days.
Thanks for letting folks know about this new book of mine. A lot of hard living led up to it and it’s my pleasure to share some of that with the public.
Further Q&A with Barnaby Hazen
Misfortunes of T-Funk really is all about the music. What inspired the story?
My past, really. I knew this story was brewing in me for years now. The different jobs I’ve worked and stories I’ve lived through in the name of keeping music my priority has been just outrageous, so it seemed natural to craft these stories about fictional characters informed by my own “misfortunes” and frustrations in what almost seems like a former life to me now.
There has to be a little of your own real life peppered in, right?
Yes. I made up these characters and put them through some stories that are made up, and
some that I have actually experienced, though I will keep those details close to my chest. My favorite part of having a ‘work of fiction’ disclaimer is that I can borrow them from my own life with no intention of ever returning to them. I like to say that maybe I’ll even forget those parts of the stories really happened. I’m getting older… it could happen.
I love the idea of incorporating music directly into your story, especially with your background. It’s such a unique idea! How did you come up with it?
I started thinking about where Theo, my main character, was headed musically right away –
meaning back around the year 2000, though I didn’t have a name for him then – but, I didn’t have much in mind for the vehicle to get him there.
I felt like I needed a different plan of some sort. I don’t really remember the moment I thought to use recordings, but it seemed an unnecessarily difficult task to describe Theo’s experience with nothing but words. It was when I decided to use these recordings that my second character, Judah, materialized. He sings each track from my own songwriting past throughout the book.
Which genres and artists from your own life influence the music in Misfortunes of T-Funk?
I grew up listening to Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, along with The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who and other classic rock. I also went through a punk phase, along with another stretch where I was listening to rap and writing hooks for some of those rappers in a studio in Northern California. Jazz was a favorite later on in life, which explains why I eventually obtained an MA in Jazz Composition. I think all of these various influences will be pretty apparent to readers/listeners of the book, though I’m sure some are more obvious than others.
And what can readers/listeners expect of the embedded music in each of the Misfortune books?
I’m hoping for 12-15 tracks incorporated across the entire series – which is suspiciously the length of a CD or full-length playlist. It’s something that’s ever-developing with the story itself, so I’m looking forward to seeing just how the entire thing plays out.
Being a musician yourself, what fascinates you most about the craft?
The strangest thing is how it’s changed for me. When I first started listening to music at the age of 12, someone gave me a tape of “The Wall” by Pink Floyd and I honestly thought there was a puzzle in it that would lead me to other things. I listened over and over and finally started buying other records, spending any money I came across on vinyl. The fascination developed into studying music, singing and writing my own songs. It was all music, all the time – nothing else mattered.
Now, I play professionally in town (though only part time) and hardly listen to music except for on the radio, because they have local DJs playing all kinds of music that seems new to me. What’s changed now is the role of music in my life. I make some money on it, and I find my spots where I have just as much fun as ever I did, but it’s no longer front and center. That is a little sad to me, but things happen. There are kids in my life, younger and older, and I don’t have the burning desire to challenge the way people hear music that I did when I was in college. Now, I’ll stay creative as it suits me; listen to weird radio shows that suit me; maybe turn myself on to something new every once in awhile and leave it at that. It’s definitely a happier way to live, rather than out on the edge of the world, desperate to put my work in front of anyone.
You also publish Seven Eleven Stories, a periodical of stories from you and other authors around the country. Can you tell us more about the 7-11 theme throughout the anthology?
Ahh… “Where the price of convenience is strangeness.”
I used to visit convenience stores a lot, often while I was working. So at those hours I came
across some things that were very strange, some inspirational. I don’t know when I
thought of the concept, but I was finally out of school after an eight year run to my MA and was keen to get back into writing fiction.
In the bustling nightlife of Los Angeles, while certain other friends were going to auditions and having meetings and these things, my friend Coby and I took trips to 7-Eleven. The joke of going to 7-Eleven, of all places began to develop, and we finally established a literary website in 2014 – Seven Eleven Stories.
A year later, I released my own book, Seven Eleven Forgotten and Other Stories. As Coby and I had already added a handful of convenience store submissions from a few different authors on the original site, many of those were included in the first volume.
Seven Eleven Stories: Volume 2: A Very Convenient Christmas released last December and I’m excited for Volume 3, which is currently in progress.
Can you tell us more about what you have planned for the Misfortunes of T-Funk series, and maybe even give readers peek into Volume 3 for Seven Eleven Stories?
Yes – Books 2 and 3 in the T-Funk series are underway. As Book 1 offers an entertaining study of the two main characters and their friendship, Book 2 will take readers closer to Theo’s resolve to make music his living, and also follow Judah along his own borderline self-destructive romantic spiral.
But what we are going to see more of in both Books 2 and 3 in the series is the setting. This trilogy is placed at an undetermined time in the future, and there is an element of technologically and politically-based dystopia starting to emerge. The lens is still mostly focused on Theo and Judah, who live so much in their own worlds that they hardly ever notice the daily news. However, this darkening future of a setting has its impact on them despite their obliviousness. From this we’ll see opportunities for strangeness and dissonance beyond what we saw in the first book.
I’ll also be releasing Volume 3 of Seven Eleven Stories, which will be a collection of band and musician stories. I’m working on gathering some now, and submissions are always welcome! (Submit online)