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Author Q&A ft David Court | Scenes of Mild Peril Book Tour | Horror / Sci-fi / Satire / Short Stories

Scenes of Mild Peril by David Court is on virtual book tour.  The h orror / sci-fi / satire (short stories)  stops at Reader...

Scenes of Mild Peril by David Court is on virtual book tour. 

The horror / sci-fi / satire (short stories) stops at Readeropolis with an author interview and excerpt. 

Be sure to enter for a chance to win the giveaway for a $20 Amazon GC or a signed copy of book (1 winner each) and follow the Silver Dagger book tour (for other dates see the link at the bottom of the post).

Is there anything you would change about your writing?

I am an absolutely terrible editor of my own stuff. I will literally not spot some errors even if I pored over the manuscript a dozen times with an electron microscope. Some of the errors I make are honestly embarrassing. Thankfully, I’ve got a great editor who is very, very patient. I’m way too keen on a tendency of “Yeah, that’s finished” and throwing it out there, without giving it the loving final touches and tweaking the work needs.

Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?

I can’t work on multiple drafts of different stories at a time – my brain simply doesn’t work like that – but I have a few “finished” books that need a damn good edit hanging around. Subconsciously I think it’s because editing is my least favourite part of writing, so I’m more likely to hit another new story than edit what I’ve already done. It’s sometimes begrudgingly that I return to them

Pen or typewriter or computer?

Computer, without a doubt. As a software developer, I work with computers all day long, and therefore like so many, seem to have lost the ability to actually write with a pen. I envy those writers who have notepads full of story scribblings and notes – it actually hurts my wrist to write anything other than cursory notes.

I can see the appeal of a typewriter though – the big problem with a computer is that you’re only a click away from the internet and so called “Research” and send you down a rabbit hole which you end stuck in for hours. (Honestly, my search history probably has me on a load of lists – the government probably think I’m a serial killer with a penchant for astrophysics).

Perhaps George R.R. Martin has the right idea with the best of both worlds – he writes his stuff on WordStar 4.0 on an old DOS machine incapable of accessing the internet.

What made you want to become an author and do you feel it was the right decision?

I think it was an organic process – I didn’t decide one day “That’s it; I’m going to be an author!” I’d written a few stories for fun, got brave enough to send them out into the wild, and they were liked.  And so – craving the adulation of my peers - I wrote some more, and then eventually there were enough for a whole book. So I think I gradually morphed into an author over time, but I couldn’t pinpoint with any accuracy exactly when that was.

Whether I think that transformation was the right decision, depends; on the days when I get some great reviews, an acceptance letter or notice a lovely peak in sales, yes. When I’m sitting there at the keyboard incapable of forming words or the rejection arrives in my inbox, no. But the fact I’m still doing it all this time later, indicates that I’m in for the long haul. The positives – the audience I’ve gathered and the genuine friends I’ve made – way outweigh the negatives.

What the most challenging and rewarding aspects of being a writer?

For me, the most challenging aspect is finding the time.  I have to fit writing around my full-time job which can be a struggle at times, because I’ve set myself the challenge of writing at least a thousand words per day - and that challenge seems impossible on certain days!

The most rewarding aspect has to be when complete strangers get in touch to say they’ve enjoyed your stuff – lots of people don’t realise how critical reviews are to the writer. It’s the reader feedback that keeps me going, and it’s that that makes it all worthwhile.

A day in the life of the author?

I work full-time in the software industry, so my weekday schedule varies wildly from my weekend one. I try to write every single day – writing is like a muscle and, as such, you need to keep exercising it. Even if you’re writing rubbish or just character notes or writing results of research, it’s something. It’s when you stop doing something for a while that you find excuses to continue to procrastinate. If muscles aren’t used, they atrophy. So, in a weekday, I’ll grab evenings to get a couple of hundred words down. On weekends, I’ll either vanish off to my study or pop into the city centre to write in our local library.

Any Advice you would give new authors?

After I’d gotten a few short stories out there, I decided to ignore the carefully given advice of pretty much every writer out there, and decided to write a full length novel. Not a short, not a novella – a novel. This would be my magnum opus. One hundred and ten thousand words (and one year later), I had Version Control, part body-horror/part superhero novel.

Agents would be literally fighting each other in the streets for the rights for my book, and Publishers would bestow me with lots of offers with a heap of zeros on the end.

And do you know what? Looking back on it, some five years later?

Version Control is rubbish. The pacing is awful, the characters are shallow stereotypes (and there are way too many of them).  The story is a huge universe-shaking thing that I didn’t have the writing skill to convey adequately, and it all adds up to several hundred pages of utter bilge.  It’s virtually unsalvageable. The ending is quite good, though. Even though it leads neatly into a sequel that will never be written.

If I’d paid attention to pretty much any bit of advice from any author, I wouldn’t have fallen into that trap. Learn your craft and get good at it – no, get awesome at it – before unleashing yourself on such a big project. Get really good at building walls before you try to build a house. You may have the perfect house in mind, but you’re not good enough yet.

Also, write, write, write and read, read, read!  It may seem obvious, but – as with anything – the more you write, the better you’ll get. Even over the space of a few years, I can see how my writing has improved when I look back at some of my earlier attempts.   Reading stuff by other people is critical too – mainly so you don’t stagnate, but also because you’ll learn to recognise various techniques and can adapt them into your own writing.

Describe your writing style.

I don’t think I’m a particularly sophisticated writer, to be fair. Somebody once told me that my stories read like I’m sitting across a table reading them to you, and I’m perfectly happy with that.  They read like I speak. I’m a storyteller at heart and I won’t let long-windedness or an over-abundance of adjectives get in the way of that – I just want to entertain you, not force you to vanish off to a thesaurus every five minutes. John Wagner, the creator of Judge Dredd, once said I was “highly readable” and I’m pretty damn happy with that verdict coming from a talent as incredible as his.

Do your characters ever hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns?

That’s an interesting question, and up until recently, I’d have insisted that I had full control of my characters. However, in my science fiction novel Recreant, I’d created an unusual protagonist. At one point he’s the unlikely heart of the story, despite being a jaded and cynical old man of pensionable age. He – High Conciliator Yolqun – was supposed to die and make way for the younger protagonists, but true to his character he stubbornly refused to budge.  He was such fun to write, that he ended up keeping himself alive just via the gift of the gab. When he finally did meet his maker, I was genuinely sad to see him go.

What makes a good story?

There are a couple of things I like to adhere to in my own works; a strong start – without that you’re going to lose the audience, and you want to grab their attention from the first moment. Make sure to let the story dictate its own pacing – a story is as long or as short as it needs to be, and you don’t want to bore the audience. And then, hopefully, an end as high a quality as the stories start. I’m a sucker for a twist ending, so if I can have my reader coming out of the story still thinking about it, I’ve achieved my aim.

What are you currently reading?

Interestingly, I’m not reading any fiction at the moment. There’s an excellent restaurant critic known as Jay Rayner (who also writes fiction but I haven’t read of it, I’m ashamed to say). I’m reading a book of his – My Dining Hell; Twenty ways to have a lousy night out - which is a collection of his most scathing dining reviews. He has such an incredible way with words, and is utterly hilarious (“They’re advertised as coming with truffle and foie-gras salt, which is like getting a gold-plated, diamond-encrusted case for your smartphone because you’ve run out of things to spend money on.”). There’s something very guilty-pleasure about reading bad reviews of other peoples stuff, isn’t there? I think we a species secretly love it.  You can’t feel too bad for the recipients of the bad reviews here because they’re charging a king’s ransom for either terrible food or service. It’s laugh-out-loud funny in parts, and you almost feel sorry for him.

What is your writing process? For instance do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first?

It depends on the story. For my shorter works of fiction, it’s enough to have an outline in my head. I’ll work out the “beats” the story has to hit; i.e. the set-pieces in in it, and that’ll be enough to work with. That doesn’t always work because sometimes I hit snags as I’m writing – how could this character get here? Why would this character do this? – But it mostly works.

For my longer stories and novels, I’ll write the whole thing as a synopsis. Each chapter might only be described in a sentence or so, but that’s my route planned out. It may happen that the route deviates wildly, and that one chapter suddenly becomes four, but it gives me just enough structure to work with.

Overall, it’s an organic process. I’ll know by the nature of the story the way I have approach it – that’s only come from experience of getting it wrong so many times in the past!

What is your writing Kryptonite?

Once upon a time I would have said writing sex scenes, but as an experiment to confront that I wrote an erotic horror piece which was pretty much nothing but sex scenes, so that conquered that particular demon. The one thing I’ve tried to – and struggle to write – is extreme horror. I quite enjoy reading it – and I’m friends with some damn fine writers of that particular sub-genre – but I can’t seem to write it myself.

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

Maybe selfishly – or perhaps all authors are like that, really - I write primarily for myself. I write the kinds of stories that I would like to read. Because writing is a hobby rather than a career at the moment – albeit a hobby that takes up most of my non-work time – I’m lucky enough to not have to write for a specific market or for a specific audience to keep my family fed.  I try to be original anyway – it’s the only way to stand out.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

I’m in my forties, and my biggest regret is not doing this earlier. My first bit of advice would be “Don’t marry at twenty. That’s way too young” but my writing advice would be “Just get on with it. You’re holding back because you’re scared of what other people will think of your writing, but until you release it, you’ll never know. And that positive reaction from your readers will be what spurs you on to take this seriously.”

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

I’m lucky in that I have a wife, and therefore understand everything that there is to know about women *ducks*.  Honestly though, I’ve been accused in the past of not having enough female characters – this isn’t a conscious effort on my part, just something that happens.  I’ll admit though that I don’t really write the female characters I do have really any differently to the male ones – and my wife is sure to correct me when I get something hopelessly wrong anyway!

Where do you get your ideas?

A combination of fine wines and exotic cheeses.

Is there anything specific you’d like to tell your readers?

Aye. The one piece of advice I can’t impress enough – You readers probably don’t realise quite how important you are to the continued existence of Indie writers and publishers. Your comments, sharing and reviews are probably what’s keeping them from giving it all up. You’re a wonderful bunch, and the help you give us is absolutely invaluable. I’ve been on the verge of giving this up a few times – writing is a mostly thankless task – but one review or email can make all the difference to keep me inspired.

If you like someone’s stuff, tell them. Pop them an email, or a nice review. It makes a genuinely huge difference.

Scenes of Mild Peril
by David Court
Genre: Horror / Sci-fi / Satire , Short Stories

Across thirty disquieting stories, we'll encounter such tales as, "Sovereign's Last Hurrah", featuring a team of retired super-powered villains embarking on one last caper with their legendary super-hero rival.

"A Comedian Walks into a Bar", in which a hungry and ambitious amateur learns that the fabled secret of comedy may come at too high a cost. "83", where the interview for a dream job becomes a nightmare, and "In Vino Veritas, In Vino Mors", where a dying wine collector takes part in a very special tasting session, courtesy of a very special visitor.

You'll encounter possessed little fingers, magic swords, sanity-defying factories, stranded astronauts, lovecraftian librarians, virulent plagues, and pork scratchings ... all with a twist in the tale, courtesy of the equally twisted mind of David Court.

Check out the podcasts here!

David Court is a short story author and novelist, whose works have appeared in over a dozen venues including Tales to Terrify, Strangely Funny, Fears Accomplice and The Voices Within. Whilst primarily a horror writer, he also writes science fiction, poetry and satire. 

His writing style has been described as "Darkly cynical" and "Quirky and highly readable" and David can't bring himself to disagree with either of those statements.

Growing up in the UK in the eighties, David's earliest influences were the books of Stephen King and Clive Barker, and the films of John Carpenter and George Romero. The first wave of Video Nasties may also have had a profound effect on his psyche.

As well as being a proud VIP writer for Stitched Smile Publications, David works as a Software Developer and lives in Coventry with his wife, three cats and an ever-growing beard. David's wife once asked him if he'd write about how great she was. David replied that he would, because he specialized in short fiction. Despite that, they are still married.

Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!

Let It Cry

Try as he might, even with a third slug of poitín burning its way through his innards, Turlough Hylle couldn’t shake the last image he’d had of those poor unfortunate souls. The last thing he had seen as he lifted the hammer to nail the final plank across the window were the bright blue eyes of Ciara and her infant Bradan staring back at him. Not the pleading eyes of somebody begging for both their lives, just the blank and tired expression of somebody resigned to their fate. That somehow made it that much worse.

Turlough placed the small pottery beaker down on the table and looked around the inn, his heart aching. There was not a person in here who had not lost a friend or a family member in this latest visitation of the plague, and the mood in here was a sombre one. As little as ten days ago, the inn would have been filled with both people and music—somebody would be playing a harp or beating on a bodhrán, and there’d always be someone who’d had a little too much of the strong stuff merrily singing along. Now the only music was that of a broken voice singing a haunted and mournful lament to the dead. The few occupants stared down at their drinks so as not to meet each other’s gaze, and a fog of thick pipe smoke clung to the rafters like a rain cloud.



  1. Best of luck with the book and book tour! I included the tour in the Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019 edition of The BookTube Your Shelf Daily Reader:

  2. Not my kind of cover but I can see how it would be perfect for horror fans.


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