From the desk

After a mad few weeks, here’s an update on what’s been happening:

  • Diary of the 17th Man has taken on a life of its own, having started out here.  It has moved to its own page, and we’ve started a podcast.  This is a fun project, and is attracting a lot of interest. Ebook now on sale.
  • Cracks in the Ceiling, my first book, is now available in print from I’m currently working on the print version of The Queensberry Rule.
  • The Advanced Smash Repairs Series is creaking along much slower than I’d like, with Number 5 in the series, “Shatter”, almost finished.  “Scratch” and “Hammer”, numbers 3 and 4 respectively, are with beta readers. The finale to season 1, “Burn” has a rough outline.

There’s another short fiction project in concept development – but I can’t get to it!  Maybe over the winter . . .


Dave Cornford


Financial fiction, anyone?

It’s just about a year since I self-published my first work of fiction, Cracks in the Ceiling, and it’s a journey worth celebrating.

“Financial fiction” is not a well defined genre. Money is something well worth writing about, though, and the last five years have provided a fantastic (in the real and common usage senses) backdrop for fiction.  Crisis! Conflict! Tragedy! Skullduggery!  Collapse!

Cracks in the Ceiling is a collection of  short stories set in the turbulent times of the Global Financial Crisis.  I’ve put together a series of intriguing and at times twisted tales that delve behind the facades of modern life to uncover the real struggles, hopes and dreams of ordinary people.  The eleven stories are hopeful, insightful and at times humorous – something for everyone.

Cracks in the Ceiling is still available for kindle and kindle apps for iPad, iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Mac and PC at amazon and amazon uk.  $4.99 wisely spent!

What Readers Say

“Beautifully written, this is a book I would recommend highly.” The Kindle Book Review
“These stories really are brilliant and they are perfect for reading on the go or when you just want a quick relax.”
“Real characters and believable stories.”
“The iPod story alone is worth the $2.99.”
“I enjoyed the book and will read it again.”
“The characters were likeable and believable and I was frequently wishing the stories were longer.”

If you want to hear more about my work, especially the upcoming novel The Queensberry Rule, sign up to my email list.

SPECIAL OFFER – In fact, signup now for my email list, and get a free ebook copy of Spillage, the first episode in the Advanced Smash Repairs series.
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If you’re interested in more financial fiction, this site has some commentary and reviews – includng a review of Cracks in the Ceiling.

I Want to be Free!

Well, kinda!

Cracks in the Ceiling is free today. FREE!  Not that it will normally break the bank at $2.99, but this is a chance to find some more readers, maybe score some more reviews, and build some momentum for other work that is in the pipeline – and there’s a lot of that.

So download away!  But please don’t be an ebook squatter – if you download it, why not read it?

15 Civic Square

Just released yesterday is “15 Civic Square”.  While, it’s a new ebook, the three stories in it were previously published in Cracks in the Ceiling.

What the stories have in common is that they are set in the fictitious National Civic Bank.  I’ve got some more stories under development in the same setting, and these will be released as subequent books in tehe 15 Civic Square series.

“A Day at the Top” traces the inner thoughts and turmoil of the CEO of National Civic, while “The Tipping Competition” follows two close friends and co-workers through the chaos of a corporate restructure. Finally, “The Project” is the story of a customer who just can’t take it any more.

Obviously, if you’ve already bought Cracks in the Ceiling, don’t go and buy 15 Civic Square – you’ll just have to wait a while until the second book in the series – “Cake Knives Don’t Kill ‘ – comes out later in the year.

Available now for kindle and kindle apps (US, UK)

Where do ideas come from?

People have been asking me this question a lot since the publication of my book.  Others have asked about specific characters and their connection to “real” people – the characters are mostly more an amalgam of real people then they realise – for better and for worse, depending on the character.   One of my “villains”, Andy Matthews (who features in The Tipping Competition and A Day at the Top), has been the subject of some considerable conjecture – but is really built on someone I knew fifteen years ago, plus some insights from the various people I spoke to about their own “boss” stories.

Other times, something fun gets said spontaneously and I have to write it down.  This happened yesterday while I was watching my oldest son play cricket.  The team were sitting around talking about the Rugby World Cup final, played last night.  I was not so keen on 13 year olds discussing the odds on offer, but this exchange made my day

Boy 1: France are 4 to 1
Boy 2: No, France are 8 to 1
Boy 3: France don’t even have one!

It was a superb piece of improv that got the laughs it deserved.  And strangely prophectic, given that France lost by 1.

Like all the little slices of life that I see now that I’m looking, it was quickly tapped into the Evernote app on my phone for future reference.  Not that I’d have forgotten this gem!

Story in Focus – Afloat

When the idea for Cracks in Ceiling started to become more concrete, one thing that was always on my mind was that most of the stories were going to be about “first world concerns”. It’s not that the pain of losing your house or job wasn’t real for those who’ve suffered through those issues. But for the most part, for those in the West, neither of those things happened at the barrel of a gun, or at the crest of a tsunami.

About half way through the writing process, I heard a friend, who had just visited aid agency Crossroads International in Hong Kong, talking about the plight of refugees.

After some further reading, and interviewing another friend involved in refugee advocacy, the idea for Afloat started to develop. How would a refugee who got as sea-sick as I do feel about spending a week on a leaky boat? The working title for the book at that stage was “Dreaming of Home”, and this gave impetus to exploring the idea of how we all dream of a home for our family.

In the first draft of the completed collection, Afloat didn’t sit so well with the other stories. It was only after a rewrite to link it to the characters in an earlier story, Two Emerald Cities, that it felt like it made sense, and really belonged as part of the whole.

And for me, all the more so as I come to the end of a two week stay at Crossroads with my family, having packed a container of goods to be sent to Africa.  Our added bonus was meeting and hearing Australian singer/songwriter and advocate Helen Mottee.

Read Afloat and ten other short stories in Cracks in the Ceiling – available now!

Story in Focus – Lost

Lost started its life as an unsubmitted entry to the 2011 Maj Monologues competition in Perth. The theme was “Treachery and Lechery in in the 21st Century”, and this seemed to fit the idea I had in my head about the consequences of losing your iPod on the train.

The life of the commuter has always been about how to make the time pass as quickly as possible. The main option used to be reading a book or magazine, but now the range of options is endless – reading on a kindle, watching movies on your iPad, playing games on your phone.

For some people this is a casual, fun arrangement. But if you look around your train or bus, you will see people who are very fastidious with their entertainment rituals – everything is set out and plugged in just so, and they adopt an “I’m not here” expression on their faces as they escape to another place, far from the crowds and the pressures of the workday that is about to commence, or is being left behind.

Lost is the story of this escapist routine being shattered by the loss of the essential electronic device. Just how far would you go to get your iPod back?

Read Lost and find it and ten other short stories in Cracks in the Ceiling – available now!

And loved the iPod story – made me laugh during the middle of the night, during a night feeding!”


Where is home?

By the time I reached age 23, I’d lived in thirteen different houses, in three different cities.  In their own way, each of them had been “home” to our family, even if some of them were just short term rentals while a new house was being built.  We were all there, Mum and Dad and my sister – but still, none of these places was home for us for very long. 

My own personal response to this as an adult, subconsciously at least, has been to stay put.  When it was my choice about where to live, I stayed in one place for the next twenty-three years of my life, and having moved recently, intend staying in the place I live in now for just as long.

The day we brought our oldest son home from hospital as a newborn, the builders were plastering the renovation that had taken over a year to complete – our first builder had gone broke, and left us living in a construction site through much of the pregnancy.  There we were, new parents with a tiny new born in a drafty half-built house in the depths of winter.  But our sense of home was still so strong now we were “three”.

The events of the last few years have challenged the way we think about
home.  So many people have had their dreams about a future of owning a home dashed in the financial crisis that started in the US in 2007 and reached around the world during 2008.  Lost jobs, falling property values, mounting debts.  Foreclosures, permanently stained credit ratings, unemployment.

Those close to or in retirement have had to rethink their plans, many continuing to work well into the time they thought they’d be living it up in the active phase of their retirement. For some, this has been a time to take opportunities to buy assets cheaply – especially houses.  Houses that represent someone’s shattered dreams are someone else’s high yielding investment – after all, those people who’ve been foreclosed on by the banks and other lenders need to rent somewhere to live. And they’ll be doing it for the rest of their days.

As tough as those stories are from the western world, it’s also good to remember that for many in the world, home is a mud hut or a shack in a slum.  For over 10 million refugees, home is a place they left behind and are yet to arrive at.

Cracks in the Ceiling is a collection of short stories I’ve written over the last couple of years, inspired by ordinary people who’ve had to cope with the situations they’ve found themselves in during these turbulent times – sometimes of their own making, sometimes not.

For less than the price of a cup of coffee, you can buy a copy here.

Happy Birthday!

Writer O Henry

September 11 means something it didn’t eleven years ago.

Before then, it was the birthday of famous short story writer O. Henry.  This was the pen name of William Sydney Porter (1862-1910), and he wrote something like 300 short stories during his colourful life.

My love of O. Henry started when one of my English teachers wrote “That’s a great O Henry twist” as a comment at the end of one of my pieces in early high school.  I started reading his work to find out what exactly the comment meant, and quickly grew to love his use of language, and of course, his twisted endings.

Here’s a tribute to O Henry for those who want to read more. And here’s a link to the 1950s movie of five of his stories, O Henry’s Full House.

And as for my attempts at the twist ending, you can read “Lost”, “I Can Touch the Walls” and “The Tipping Competition” in Cracks in the Ceiling.