Interview with J. Darris Mitchell

Published 2014-02-09.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I love sharing worlds that only existed in my head. It's wonderful to think that we live in a limitless universe and that there's people brave enough to share what goes on behind their eyeballs. I want to make my contribution to the great brain of the world.
What are you working on next?
Right now I'm obsessed with twine games. I'm working on one that is meant to be played concurently with the second Wild Lands novel. It'll give perspectives and insights into clans and characters that I didn't have time for in the book. I hope to release the game within a month and the second novel sometime this summer.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Austin. My parents never valued TV or excessive parental supervision, so I spent warm days exploring the creek behind my house. My brother and I would walk miles up and down the creekbed trying to spot turtles and catch crawdaddies. My writing focuses on human and animal relationships, and I think that all stems from wondering about how animals can survive and flourish in a dirty oily creek in the middle of Austin.
Who are your favorite authors?
I love the classics. Stephen King, George R.R. Martin, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke. I try to switch reading between science fiction and fantasy (which I can never get enough of) and regular fiction, whatever that means. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett was the last non scifi I read and i absolutely loved it.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I work as an elementary school teacher for most of the week. When I'm not hanging with the future I love to sit in my backyard with my wife and watch all of our animals. We have chickens that are endlessly entertaining, and all the neighborhood birds have figured out they can get a free lunch in my backyard.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I wrote a story in the 4th grade called "The Invasion of the Mercury Flytraps." It was about this scientist who got a new plant in his store, but it turned out it ate people (I know it sounds familiar but at least the plants didn't sing). He had already sold hundreds of cuttings, so America was basically doomed until he realized that the plant was deathly allergic to shaving cream.
We had to do illustrations and my teacher bound all of our final drafts in our own books. I took it way to seriously and never understood why teachers didn't publish dozens of student books every year.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I wish I knew. Mostly they come from people's recommendations, though sometimes I buy a title and get lucky. I recently bought "Deep Space Zoology by S. F. Connolly on a whim and love it!
What is your writing process?
I try to write as many words as I possibly can all summer long, when I'm not working. I try not to edit myself at all and just write write write. Hopefully I end up with stacks and stacks of work by Fall, and then spend my evenings editing after I'm done working with the kids. I like to write short stories throughout the year as well to stay in shape.
How do you approach cover design?
I am lucky enough to know the incredibly talented Heather White. I gave her some ideas which she promptly threw away and designed the fantastic cover on Legend of the Wild Man. Seriously, this girl's got chops. Look her up the internets.
What do you read for pleasure?
I read everything for pleasure, though I definitely gravitate towards science fiction. I love action packed adventures, like the Dark Tower series and worlds so real you can get lost on them, like the Dune universe. I read a fair amount of young adult so I can share it with my students, and I think that's why I like to write young adult books. I also read alot of books on ecology and nature. One of my best friends is an ecologist and recommends his favorites. I love thinking about animals and evolution and having those elements in my stories, so reading about ecology counts for research but is still fun.
Describe your desk
My desk is nestled between two bookshelves. It consists of my computer, and a printer and right now my half edited manuscript. The wall in front of me is covered in cork push boards that I fill with sketches, poorly drawn maps and post-its of whatever I want to be thinking about. Right now there's a mysterious drawing of an egg I'm waiting to hatch. I think it might be the first Martian dragon.
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Books by This Author

The Crane and the Wolf
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 59,240. Language: English. Published: August 18, 2021 by Indies United Publishing House, LLC. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic, Fiction » Fantasy » General
There’s only one thing standing between the city of S’kar-Vozi and the Wolf from transforming into an insatiable flesh-hungry werewolf every full moon, the Crane’s perfectly baked and exquisitely designed cakes. But her hands aren’t what they used to be; she needs an apprentice, and only the best will do. Three bakers have been selected to participate in the bake-off of their lives… literally.
A Crown of Cobwebs
You set the price! Words: 173,010. Language: English. Published: July 1, 2020 by Indies United Publishing House, LLC. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary, Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
A halfling hooked on magic, a golem with a heart of gold, and Gatekeeper’s thrall crash their best friend’s wedding, a spider princess, who is being forced to marry a dragon.
The Wild Lands: Legend of the Wild Man
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 112,220. Language: English. Published: February 8, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Utopias & dystopias, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Science Fiction
Skup and Urea are so gifted with the Virtual Reality Chips implanted in their brains that they can control the evanimals that live below them on the surface of the earth. But when they destroy the home of the Wild Man, their corrupt religious leaders force the teens to fight the myth they were raised to fear.