EskieMama & Dragon Lady Reads New Release Spotlight w/Giveaway: Misfortunes of T-Funk by Barnaby Hazen



Welcome to EskieMama & Dragon Lady Reads
New Release Spotlight!

Today we are spotlighting Barnaby Hazen's
New Release
Misfortunes of T-Funk!

Enter below for a chance to win a paperback of Misfortunes of T-Funk
from Barnaby Hazen!


Barnaby Hazen's 
New Release
Misfortunes of T-Funk!








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…



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Q & A with Barnaby Hazen about Misfortunes of T-Funk!


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


Now an exciting excerpt for Misfortunes of T-Funk!

The Cheese Stands Alone

The first song Judah could remember learning in school was, “The Farmer in the Dell.” It was taught to both Theo and Judah as a classroom game, by a substitute teacher who was much celebrated by their kindergarten class for several weeks thereafter, until requests finally led the music teacher herself to incorporate it into her long list of singing and dancing games they played toward the end of their forty-five-minute block.

Judah was humming at work, reflecting on how he and Theo had thought of the song all those years ago, and what he thought of the lyrics now.

The farmer takes a wife

This was a good reason for kids to either avoid the role of the farmer, or embrace it. Neither Judah nor Theo were very outgoing back then, and so both would tend to shy away from the farmer’s part the first round through.

And how exactly did one go about taking a wife, these days? Judah wondered if perhaps the idea of this was a little dated for the liberal arts college population, and the patrons of clubs and bars he associated himself with. Whether it be to a woman’s advantage to marry him or anyone else he could not say, but it seemed to him that women took husbands as often as the other way around in the circles where he had seen such things occur.

The wife takes a child…

The natural progression of life and species—an often unavoidable byproduct of love and marriage, or even just the “taking” of a spouse. By now the circle of kids would have been closing in, as the class might be only ten or twelve in number, meaning almost half of the circle had been called to the center.

The child takes a dog…

Fair enough. Often the kid’s idea he figured.

Dog takes a cat…

This was where he remembered having some skepticism about the narrative. Do domesticated dogs ever seem to have any possession over the house cats? Most dog and cat friendships he and Theo had seen were tenuous, and very much at the command of the fickle and assuming cat.

Cat takes a mouse.

Calling to question the nature of the relationship of farmer to wife, if we are to assume there is a logical relationship between one use of "take" and another. In modern times, feminists could rightly take issue with these lyrics, if not for that the feminist movement has more urgent matters at hand—still to challenge the idea of ownership through marriage from an early age might be worthwhile.

The mouse takes the cheese…
The cheese stands alone.

Here the kids’ circle would form out again, and each of the players would surround that last person picked from the original circle. The end result was one kid surrounded by the entire class singing, “The cheese stands alone…hi-ho the derry-o,” all eyes on the cheese.

Some students, including Theo, used to want to be picked as the cheese, mostly because it meant you got to start the next round of the game, at which point Theo was less shy about picking a girl as a “wife,” since someone else had already done it and absorbed the giggles of peers—and the fun of the game was onto a very different dynamic by then—it was more about momentum and contact.

But Judah hated, at the time, the idea of being alone, and at the center of attention—he remembered that distinctly.

Then Judah caught a chill, and a strange existential rush as he stopped dead in his work in the breakfast room, and came to realize that being alone, and at the center of attention seemed to be the direction his life was headed for. He had changed in this way—he was no longer afraid of either one.

***

When Judah saw the note about a staff meeting, his first thought was to skip it with some shameless excuse, or no excuse at all, and in retrospect he thought this would have been the best idea. The meeting was set for 9am, meaning that he was eating breakfast after his third shift of the week, and heading right back to the hotel. He had not done well for sleep that week, as Iris kept offering herself to him in the late morning, after he had only caught a nod or two, and then she presented ideas of where they might have brunch afterward. This last time he also had a mid-day class after Iris seduced him, and once he agreed to dine with her, that was all for his chance of a reasonable nap. Judah had a very hard time getting to sleep when he knew that there was pressure to catch it while he could. He often used the television to keep his mind off of it in the evening, and sometimes this would mean he would be up until eight thirty or nine in the evening, only to hear the alarm go off an hour to an hour and a half later.

The owner, Sajim, had just left town, so acting as the first in charge was Ed, the General Manager. Ed was someone Judah had dealt with very little since being hired.

Sajim had grown on Judah. He was an old school, wound up kind of micro-manager, who had to have come from wealth back in India, based on his scowling attitude toward the hippie population that often patronized his establishment, and his lack of understanding about the American middle-class economic situation. One night he bemoaned everyone wanting "to sit around and do nothing while they get their free health care," but after all, Judah thought, the man was just trying to run his business, in a time when young employees in customer service were decreasingly accountable.

Ed was a different kind of boss. He was one to shovel the latest corporate promos (such as “free stay incentives,” and the latest little phrase to cram into how employees answer the phone) down the pipeline and expect not only full service of this movement into the customer service marketplace, but a bit of a salute and a cheer from employees along the way.

Much of the meeting went by without Judah’s noticing. His exhaustion was in a sleepy stage suddenly, so he drifted off while pretending to respond to what was said, nodding, occasionally tuning in and offering a socially appropriate word or two, like, “Oh I see.” He tuned into things like, “Put it in the log-book!” and “Communication is key!” Jennifer the breakfast girl was saying something about needing another staff in place to help with something—or maybe she needed another day off, he couldn’t remember—and Taylor, Ed’s assistant manager, went on to scribble in her little notebook like this request was going to get the first bit of consideration once the meeting was over. If they were willing to spend a little extra, Judah was thinking, he would be at the desk during those two hours of breakfast, rather than cooking up the eggs and all so that Jennifer didn’t have to come in until six. If sixteen to twenty more dollars a day was a stretch for the establishment, doubling up on the same shift and duty was going to make it about as far as a wastebasket.

The meeting was coming to what seemed like a mercifully prompt close when suddenly it took a turn Judah could not endure. Whether the circumstances of his sleep deprivation played significantly into his lack of resources for abiding he would never be sure, but soon enough he seemed to completely lose control of what he was saying, and the social norms of holding a job down offered no boundary to the same.

Ed was a tall and overbearing man with slicked back dark hair and a moustache Judah found hypnotizing that morning. Judah kept trying to find something in the room to fix his gaze on, so as not to be taken over completely by his sick fascination with the well-groomed, but complicated affair that was Ed's facial hair. If he focused, Judah could see that the moustache's presentation from a distance was misleading to its details up close. It seemed the follicles were each facing one next to the other, and that there was a pattern of long to short, short to long. Sitting right next to him at the meeting was the same strategy he often employed at the college for lectures—he felt as if sitting up front and nearer to the authority figure might somehow give him a chance at intercepting some of the intimidation Judah generally felt at the face of any kind of authority figure.

While Ed’s moustache moved up and down, the following monologue came from the mouth behind the hair, and this was when Judah lost all of his capacity for honoring the authority figure next to him, as was very much expected of him under the circumstances. Ed spoke slowly, deliberately, and almost as if he were disappointed with everyone there, and trying to clear the air for himself: “The name of this hotel is Cozy Lodge, but the name of the franchise, by licensed agreement is Best Stay Hotels Incorporated.”

Was this true? Judah wondered. What a clumsy name! How had he missed that while he was on the website booking those employee rooms Emily sent him the links for?

Ed went on: “If you were to read a little bit of history about the company, monitoring our services by means of the business we do, and the frequent mystery shopper audits, you would know that this company name was no accident—our license agreement with Best Stay Hotels is also a pledge,” and he paused to let that sink in, “a pledge to provide that to every one of our guests—their best lodging experience. We have talked about areas in which we are strong, and areas in which we can improve, but what I want from every one of you here today is a pledge that you will provide our guests with their very best experience.” 

Judah felt his posture click into a belligerent slump, while he broke his gaze away from Ed’s moustache and fixed on the ceiling above him. It was a fluorescently lit room, hard on Judah’s sensitive eyes lacking sleep as he did, but this was bad, he decided—he needed to get out of there quickly.

Ed was not done. He was going around the room asking each employee for that very pledge: “Jennifer, do I have your word?”

"Mm-hm," she said.

“Excuse me?”

“Yes,” she said, her tone a little irritated, but conforming—as everyone would have to, it seemed.

With each employee’s answer, Judah felt a greater sense of anxiety over his own impending turn. He was grasping at the hope of a fire, or a murder just outside the office—or maybe his friend the mouse would appear and save him from this ritual of alliance—anything to stop the circle from reaching Judah. But reach him the GM’s inquiry did, and Judah was quick to respond when he heard his name; he didn’t even give Ed a chance to finish the question.

“Look. I understand my responsibilities here very clearly, I think—and in another month or two I figure I will probably have come across just about every possible problem our automated audit system might have to offer. But as far as company spirit is concerned, I bleed a little every time I put that shirt and name tag on. So if you would, please, just your assessment of me based on performance—and don’t make me answer that question. I’ll put the badge on straight, I’ll wear the shirt, but don’t make me answer that question.”

The meeting wrapped up quickly. Judah left but was called by Taylor shortly thereafter and let go curtly, something about their needing people who were "team players rather than cowboys," and Judah was purely happy about it at first—but then he remembered those employee rate rooms the tour's budget was counting on, and dreaded more than anything having to explain to Theo how he had lost control just then, and that they needed a backup plan for lodging as a result.



Author Bio:

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.

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