The Adventures of Dramatic Podcast Production in a Pandemic: An Interview with J. Barton Mitchell on Fathom, the Prequel to Derelict

The Adventures of Dramatic Podcast Production in a Pandemic: An Interview with J. Barton Mitchell on Fathom, the Prequel to Derelict

J. Barton Mitchell is the author of the YA novels The Conquered Earth Trilogy, and the prison planet novel, The Razor. Pre-pandemic, he was also in the process of producing his dramatic science fiction podcast, DerelictFor that project he hired professional actors, flying them out to Santa Fe, where he lives, and having them perform together, playing off one another in his recording studio.

Then the pandemic hit, and that shut down production of the podcast, but not Mitchell’s drive to create more adventures in that world (which is set in the same universe as The Razor). So he got to work on a prequel series, FathomWhile Derelict took place on a derelict spaceship, Fathom takes place deep under the sea. I interviewed my friend about this latest project (Episode 4 of which goes live today). We discuss how he changed his production process to be able to continue recording and producing through the pandemic.

You can support this podcast series through its Patreon page.

Eleven years ago, in the year 2170, an energy company found something unexpected while surveying Earth’s ocean floor:

What could only be described as a giant door, inset into the bottom of the ocean. Almost two thousand feet in diameter, designed to be almost imperceptible visually, and with no clear means of being opened. The massive artifact carbon dated to seven million years old, and the only clue to its nature was a strange signal that somehow broadcasted from it every ten seconds.

It became known as the Vault. A gigantic enigma, buried and forgotten…nineteen thousand feet down.​

Just the kind of thing that would interest the galaxy’s most powerful corporation, Maas-Dorian. To study the artifact, the company built a massive, self-contained, secret laboratory base surrounding it. That base was named Fathom. It’s objective: unlock the secrets of the artifact and discover what it holds.​

A group of scientists, engineers, and workers have been working on that task for almost a year, but with little to show for it. The Vault has yet to give up its secrets, and their employers are beginning to lose patience. Add to that, some on the base say they hear…voices. Inside the signal the Vault is broadcasting. Hundreds of them. Thousands. Whispering and chittering of a desire to be let out…

But none of it holds sway over a corporation interested only in power and profit, even if it knows all too well that some mysteries should remain buried. And that some doors should never be opened….​​


Emily Mah is a writer and the owner of two companies: E.M. Tippetts Book Designs, which provides formatting and cover design services for independent authors and publishers, and WorkHorse Productions, an audiobook production company. Her last post for Black Gate was an interview with Benjamin Rosenbaum about his novel The Unraveling.

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