Monday, January 9, 2017

Guest Author, Barnaby Hazen

Delve into the strange world of the convenience store with my guest today, Barnaby Hazen.

Barnaby Hazen is an author and a musician. He sees his indie publications, Seven Eleven Stories and The Bud Hawthorne Revue as revolutionary movements in, accordingly, literature and education. He is currently working on a series called Misfortunes of T-Funk, describing the adventures of two friends following their hearts into the precarious music industry set in the near future. It is scheduled for release in April of 2017.

Barnaby lives in Taos, NM with his wife, Sarah, plus a dog, a cat and a turtle--and sometimes these grown up and surrogate kids who have decided to continue blessing his life with visits and
shenanigans.

Interview

  1. What are your biggest literary influences? Favorite authors and why? I have been stuck in the late 19th – early 20th centuries for a long time as a reader, and this could explain some things about my writing. Existentialism kept me in bed for quite a while—say through much of my 20s, so you know, Dostoyevsky, Kafka, for poetry Emily Dickinson was a thing. I read some strictly philosophical books—like Sartre, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche—as well but I’m starting to think that was more an extension of drug experimentation at that time. I got a lot out of it for perspective, but at the same time a lot of it was just internal and intellectual twists and turns I was getting off on. Slightly more recent authors I’ve taken influence from are Hemingway, John Barth and Nathaniel West—but I haven’t read their catalogs very comprehensively or anything. I got self-conscious about the fact that these are mostly male authors, so what did I do? Went backwards in time again. I read Pride and Prejudice, then Kate Chopin’s Awakening. Awakening left a strong impression on me, Jane Austen had less of an impact on me personally. But the thing about that was people were still writing letters in her time, and I enjoyed that in Pride and Prejudice. I miss letters.
Whenever I write short stories I think of Hemingway at some point—I think that was his playing field and I love and recommend those stories of his with all my heart.
Finally, I’ve started reading some indie writers on the scene now. I find these publishers on Facebook that look interesting, and so I’ve dug into some of what’s happening now, and I’ve been very impressed. 20th-- 21st centuries, I am on my way. An irreverent indie publisher called Dostoyevsky Wannabe caught my attention for example, and I just happen to love everything I’ve bought from them so far.
  1. What are you reading at the moment? Would you recommend it to readers of this blog? Why? Here we are again with books from long before I was born. I’m re-reading The Brothers Karamatzov, and of course I’d recommend it to anyone. I read it in high school—it was assigned to me what would it be now? Around thirty years ago. I am surprised by how much stayed with me through the years from that book, and of course, at that age, how much I missed. I blew right past all the religious philosophy which is huge for Dostoyevsky’s work, this book especially, but I guess it didn’t interest me at the time, when I was sixteen or whatever. But I have a lot of Russian blood in me and the relationships and the details and these things just strike me very close to home somehow.
  2. Tell us something about how you write? i.e. are you a plotter or a pantser? Do you have any weird or necessary writing habits or rituals? One of the things I love about writing is how little is needed to up and do it. I carry notebooks with me everywhere, and that’s the requirement full stop. I love that. I scribble and try to type anytime I’ve filled a couple notebooks because I don’t like doing too much typing all at once. I play guitar, and it’s very bad for my tendons to type for that long.
Forgotten was not planned out at all. I wrote the first short stories about Alex sometime a couple years before I knew where it was going, then slowly “Seven Eleven Forgotten” started happening and really did surprise me. My latest project has a blueprint already—it’s a three book series, and I know basically what’s happening with all three books, even though I’ve only finished the first one as far as the writing is concerned. But mainly what I do is scribble, type, edit.
  1. Of all the characters you have created, which is your favorite and why? I really loved writing Alex Aronovich—the recurring character in my collection, Seven Eleven Forgotten and Other Stories. I don’t give a lot up about his past until it’s hitting him in the face, and then only the bare, visceral facts. He can’t see past his own drunken distorted efforts to make sense of things and though I don’t drink (anymore), I had a lot of fun putting him through that otherworldly depiction of Moscow, set in an undetermined time. That was the whole point—disorientation. He is a very heavy thinker yet he can’t see out—that’s the flaw—and to me that’s just juicy good fun. Plus I get to compare my life to his favorably. Well usually. So that’s a plus.
  2. What was the hardest part of writing your book? Editing. With this book it was an extremely arduous process. I’ve learned from it, and work differently now, but it’s hard not to think what an idiot I was for not hiring someone--I just couldn’t have been much less efficient. I went through and through, and I’d find something wrong and distrust the whole thing, start all over. But I’m happy with it now and that’s the idea I think.
  3. Titles have always been extremely difficult for me. How do you come up with yours? You know when I mostly wrote songs I used to like making up names almost more than writing the songs. I liked looking at them on paper in the order they might appear on an album. Now that I’m writing books it’s different. I let the book come out of me and figure I’ll come across a moment that is worth naming it after, so I guess it’s not something I think about too much. But I do think it’s interesting—this difference between naming different forms of art. I don’t paint or do any form of visual art really, so now I have to wonder, what is it like naming a photograph or a painting? I’ll have to ask my wife.
Where can we find you online? 

Seven Eleven Forgotten and Other Stories


The innovative use of convenience store phenomena weaves these nine strange tales together. The book follows a recurring character throughout the collection, Alex Aronovich, whose knack for romantic folly plagues him from L.A. to Moscow.

Excerpt


“To fluent readers, the Cyrillic alphabet is said to differ from the Latin-Roman alphabets in how they are each decoded. While the native Spanish speaker, for example, may look at words and recognize their shapes at a glance, those who read in Russian are reading in blocks, particularly the non-cursive writing most often used for signs and billboards in the cities. Walking around and looking up at all the messages, some lit, some painted, some faded and others inescapably gosh in color and brightness—it can feel as if one is surrounded, especially in one’s first few days off the plane.

Though the same sky is above those words as it is above New York, Los Angeles, or Paris, the colors within the atmosphere of Moscow mingle and taint the eyes. The toxic fumes and endlessly bright lights cities have in common seem to differ from one to the next, yet infinitely more so in Moscow, as the sky reflects back on the messages the signs sent up to that open space at an incomprehensibly fast rate; only to be sent back down making even less sense at the leisure of the atmosphere. The clouds, neither entirely natural nor manmade are therefore illusions of unfamiliar shades of purple, red, pink and black, depending on the mood of the city. One’s own moods and emotions are tiny yet intertwined with the scenery; one’s own thoughts, dictated by the atmosphere and emotions in response, seem more insignificant the longer one gazes; yet those thoughts are the only tool available in the seductive struggle to comprehend where one stands, and what one is doing there.


All the while the smells, the industry, the pastries, the meats; the sewage, the cars, the perfumes and the sweat; the taste in one’s mouth mingles with every molecule the nostrils endure and produces something at the back of the throat—a mixture of manic wonder and desperation as such has been tasted maybe twice in one’s life, yet it is so familiar, so familiar to the tongue it has to indicate something regarding one’s destiny—a great change or even death—it has to be just around the corner. But maybe not this corner; maybe the next.”


If the excerpt interest you, comment below. Book can be purchased using the following link.