J. Barton Mitchell is a writer and creator of speculative fiction, as well as a photographer, traveler, reader, and occasional masked crime fighter. He is the author of the young adult science fiction series Conquered Earth.
When did you decide to start writing stories?
I first started “writing” somewhere around eight or nine. I didn’t really know how to do it back then, it was all very mysterious, but I knew I wanted to write. So I would go and get books out of the library at my house and just totally plagiarize them. Like transcribe the first chapter onto paper with a pencil. Then I would give it to my mom and act like I had written it.
There was no way a nine year old could have produced something on that level, so my treachery was clear, but my mom told me how good it was anyway and encouraged me. Over time I started writing my own stories, and they got better, but probably none of them as good as whatever I had copied when I was a little, so you could say I peaked early.
Why science fiction versus the other genres?
I’ve always been pulled to Sci-Fi, especially pulpy, B-Movie type Sci-Fi. I love Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers. For me, there’s something about writing stories that are more purely based in imagination. I love that in Sci-Fi I can create my own worlds, and then live in them for a time.
Who is your favorite character in The Razor and why?
That’s a hard one, kind of like choosing a favorite child. They all live inside you and compete with each other for your attention. Gable, though, is probably the most fun to write. I always wanted to write the Hannibal Lector type character who’s smarter and scarier than everyone else, but because of how Gable is set up, and her relationship with Flynn, it’s even more fun. If the series keeps going, she becomes very important to what’s transpiring on the planet, and she’ll get even more chapters of her own, which I’m looking forward to.
What are your plans for the next writing project?
I’m working on a new YA science fiction series at the moment, but I would like to continue the Razor as a series. I’m also planning a narrative podcast for next year that I want to produce and create myself.
What question do you wish I had asked you and what is the answer to that question?
What was your favorite part of promoting the book? The answer is the book trailer I made for the novel, which was a fun exercise, and allowed me to lend my own voice for some (pretty stellar) acting.
Dogs or Cats?
Yes, I have a dog, and his name is Gus. He’s a Corgi, so he’s royalty. He’s a great writing partner, because I write out all the time (coffee shops and bars) and he distracts everyone there from bothering me. Sometimes he carries my iPad for me in his backpack, which is helpful too.
By J. Barton Mitchell
Genre: Science Fiction
Brilliant engineer Marcus Flynn has been sentenced to 11-H37 alongside the galaxy’s most dangerous criminals; a hard labor prison planet better known as the Razor, where life expectancy is short and all roads are dead ends.
At least until the Lost Prophet protocol goes active…
In a few hours, without warning, prison guards and staff are inexplicably evacuated, and the prisoners are all left to die.
To survive, Flynn will have to rely on the most unlikely of allies – killers, assassins, pirates and thieves – each running from (or maybe towards) their own demons.
A volatile ice pirate, struggling with the guilt of losing her entire crew on the inside, and the fear of having it happen all over again. A man who was once an elite prison Ranger, sentenced to the Razor for murdering his commanding officer, and whose sins have finally caught up with him. An infamous and dangerous mercenary, with the mysterious power to affect and feel through metal, who has come to the planet by choice to find the only person he ever cared about him. And a brilliant, mysterious, old woman named Gable, with terrifying abilities no human should possess, and who just may be the most dangerous inmate on the entire planet.
But to escape the Razor, they’ll have to unravel the dark mysteries beginning to awaken on the surface – mysteries that suggest the planet is much more than it seems. Only Flynn has the skills and knowledge to do so, but he can’t make it by himself.
If they can survive each other, they just might survive the Razor…and claim it for their own.
Flynn could feel the vibrations from the Crawler’s turbines rumbling up through the superstructure and into his feet. Every once in a while the whole room shifted as the Charon moved over uneven terrain, heading toward the Cindersphere.
He was crammed with the rest of the new inmates into a metallic room with barriers of clear polysteel separating everything into “pens.” The pens were divided by jumpsuit color. Above them, guards watched from a railing.
Flynn knew where he was. Everyone else in the room seemed to know too, judging by how they stared at the big doors before them. The holding tank. On the other side was GenPop, the main area of the prison level.
A muted thud sounded next to Flynn. He turned instinctively and stared into the eyes of an inmate on the other side of the polysteel. Younger than Flynn, but much worse for wear. Tall, incredibly thin, so pale his blue veins crisscrossed under his skin, his eyes bloodshot and wired. He was dressed in yellow, like everyone else there, maybe a dozen prisoners.
The man stared at Flynn intensely, opened his mouth, and breathed on the polysteel, clouding it. His finger raised. He drew on the glass.
He drew a heart.
Flynn’s veins turned to ice.
The man smiled, holes where numerous teeth should have been. His eyes had a strange, primal look Flynn had never seen before, hungry almost. Flynn looked away, locked his eyes on the door.
The muted thuds again. Flynn went rigid, just kept staring straight ahead and didn’t look back.
Everyone in the tank jumped as an alarm blared, three grating pulses of sound. The white lights in the metallic ceiling flashed of and everything went yellow.
The mood in the tank became electrically bipolar. Insane cheering competed with whimpering and vomiting. It was time. They were joining GenPop.
The first door opened, cranking slowly up and out of the way.
It was the pen for the yellows, next to Flynn.
The screech of the inmates was loud enough to hear through the polysteel. The yellows surged forward, pushing through while the other prisoners watched. Flynn risked a look at the pale man as he moved. To his relief, the man never looked back.
As the yellows disappeared, Flynn heard the sound of voices from beyond. A kind of strange, volatile roar, primal and raw. He shrank back from the sound. And he wasn’t the only one.
One after the other, the doors at the end of the polysteel pens opened, emptying each one of its prisoners. Every pen went, until only Flynn’s was left. The white jumpsuits. Those without a gang or a crew. It occurred to Flynn then, listening to the roar outside, just how precarious that might be.
The door in front of Flynn cranked open. His heart thudded.
The rail jerked to life, yanking Flynn and the rest of the whites ahead.
When he passed through, the sound was deafening.
A deep, rhythmic thudding filled the interior of the giant metallic room beyond the door, loud and forceful. Flynn could feel it in his chest. The roar of hundreds of voices. Chants of various kinds blended in with and were lost amid the yells and screams.
GenPop was a giant, open level, extending a thousand feet straight ahead. Stretching into the distance, Flynn could see the various sections of the prison level. And hanging in the air above it all, as far as he could see, attached end to end on the walls and ceiling, were the cell blocks themselves.
Huge metallic trapezoids, holding sixteen cells each. Each cell, in every single cell block, had its own clear polysteel wall that looked out onto GenPop. And the inmates, hundreds of them, stood at those walls, watching as Flynn and the other white jumpsuits were jerked inside.
The eyes of every inmate were on them. They chanted inane slogans and cries, pounded rhythmically against the walls with their fists. To Flynn, it felt like they were staring at him.
The sound shook the floor. Flynn just kept moving, trying his best not to fall.
The pounding kept coming. His eyes moved from one container to the next, the prisoners behind their invisible walls, all of them yelling down at him, jumping and snarling, a thousand of them. He tried to control his fear, to fight the urge to bolt, not that there was anywhere to run.
He was in GenPop now. The end of the road.
The author is giving away 8 signed copies of The Razor!
About the Author
Barton Mitchell lives somewhere between Santa Fe, NM and Austin, TX. He’s developed properties for Warner Bros, Twenty First Century Fox, Valve Software, and Boom! Studios, and is a published author of four novels. His third novel, VALLEY OF FIRES was awarded Best Science Fiction Novel of 2015 by the RT Book Review, and his fourth novel, THE RAZOR, will be published by TOR Books this fall. Interact with him at www.jbartonmitchell.com.