Push your shoulders and hands under the surface of the water.
Who: Seven Eleven Stories
Where: Taos, New Mexico What: Short Fiction Collection
Who are you?
I am Barnaby Hazen, co-founder of Seven Eleven Stories. Our slogan is, “Where the price of convenience is strangeness.” I am also the embodiment of a converse formula to the same slogan - my strangeness seems to cause me a whole lot of inconvenience.
Where are you from?
Taos, New Mexico. Born in Los Angeles though, and I still go back there to write sometimes because I like to feel anonymous when I'm writing. Taos is very small.
What do you do?
I write, play, teach.
Stock question. Can you tell us a bit about your influences?
I was first drawn to your website (Dostoyevsky Wannabe) because of one of them - an important one in fact. I've got a very Russian side to me by both bloodstream and literary influence - but it's like with music, everything we've read or heard takes its toll and it gets a little tedious to try and create a comprehensive or even relevant list.
Taking the question more generally: existentialism, surrealism, misanthropy; Abel Ferrara movies; coffee, and other drugs when I was younger; a haunting sense that nothing quite adds up, and consequential feelings of disassociation.
Can you tell us a little bit about your most recently published book and whether it does or doesn't differ from the types of things you've written before?
Misfortunes of T-Funk is different-it's more linear I think. I get a tickle out of the idea that I might be meeting the mainstream reader part way, but what the fuck do I know about that reader, really? I do believe it's more accessible than the Seven Eleven Forgotten collection in that it's all one story and I don't have to answer silly questions about the reason I wrote and pieced it together in the first place-it's about musicians, I'm a musician; the conversation is a lot easier at the baseline.
What are you currently working on?
I'm collecting submissions for Volume 3 of Seven Eleven Stories. This is an especially enjoyable project for me because it's going to be all band and musician stories. So if you're reading this and you've ever been out on the road, or even in your home town and hit a particularly memorable, or miserable, or funny, or nightmarish, or weird time of it playing out and ended up at a convenience store, I very much want to hear from you. Whether you consider yourself a writer or not, please submit to: email@example.com
I have rendered many tales from people with stories to tell but no time or interest in crafting the stories themselves.
Swimmers Club has a focus on the state of independent culture at the moment (independent coffee shops, presses, record labels, etc). How healthy do you think independent culture is right now?
I don't know. I know that it's up against a lot in the way ofdehumanizing corporate interests buying media outlets and getting more and more clever in attempts to crush independent thought-and then what? How much more can a big cancerous blob of empty greed own? What does complete domination look like?
Here is something more inspiring I think may address this question in some way-a friend was teaching a low-level English course at a community college and ended up having them read Notes from the Undergroundby none other than a common favorite between us (I assume), Dostoyevsky. This friend told me the first question on the test was, "How many people does it take to start an underground?" The answer was a giveaway, because he had said it more than once in class, but the answer he was looking for was, "One".
I do think it's sad that there seems such a narrow margin between keeping one's independent artistic/business endeavor going and losing it, or giving up on it. Anyway, I haven't given up, neither clearly has Dostoyevsky Wannabe and Swimmer's Club affiliates;as long as there are people involved, culture is still happening.
What influence, if any, does the city in which you live have on your work?
Taos is a strange and beautiful place. I am influenced by it in as much as I'm influenced by anything I see and hear, and I have seen and heard a lot of this place in the last fifteen years;so that's a thing. It's an artists' community to a large degree, and I find a lot of people who live here center their work around the place itself, and there may be a lot of value in that but it hasn't been the way of my muse thus far.
Finally, can you swim?
I can, but I don't much. As soon as I stick my head in chlorinated water, my ears are doomed to pop for the rest of the day and night, and that's been since I was about fifteen. For this, and many other reasons, I prefer to swim in the ocean.
Barnaby Hazen is an author and a musician. He is also editor of Seven Eleven Stories, an annual collection of short fiction about convenience stores. His own first collection, Seven Eleven Forgotten and Other Stories, spurred the concept, and is available through Amazon.
His latest work is Part 1 of a series, and also available for purchase--Misfortunes of T-Funk. Covering the lives of two struggling musicians, it breathes close to his heart and experience.
Barnaby lives in Taos, NM, with his beautiful wife, Sarah, and some adorable pets.