Wednesday 24 April 2024
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Voting opens for the 10th Costa Short Story Award, here is how to vote

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LONDON, UK – Voting has opened for the 2021 Costa Short Story Award, run in association with the Costa Book Awards. Launched in 2012 – and marking its 10th year in 2021 – the Award is for a single short story and is judged independently of the Costa Book Awards main five-category system.

The public is now invited to vote for their favourite from a shortlist of three stories, which can be downloaded either to read or to listen to via the Costa Book Awards website.

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Over 800 stories were entered into the competition, which is open to both published and unpublished writers aged 18+, and rewards previously unpublished short stories of up to 4,000 words, written in English.

All entries were judged anonymously (without the identity of the author being known by the judges) by a panel comprising of: Sarah Franklin, founder of Short Stories Aloud and Senior Lecturer in Publishing at Oxford Brookes University; Radio 2 Book Club producer, Joe Haddow; literary agent, Simon Trewin, and bestselling authors Adele Parks and Kit de Waal, herself a finalist for the Costa Short Story Award in 2013.

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The judges have selected the following three stories which are now available to read and listen to at

  • A Man in Half: Finally facing up to a mystifying disappearance, an isolated former magician breaks a lifelong spell.
  • Pholas Dactylus: Sal Shrivel, ex-villain, is selling seafood on the seashore when his old life comes looking for him…
  • Sunblock: It’s Sami’s last chance to tell her dying friend a secret, but the hospital visit leads to an unexpected road trip.

The identities of the authors will be revealed after public voting closes at 5pm GMT on Friday 14th January 2022, together with up to six more authors whose stories were Highly Commended by the judges. The winning author and two runners-up will be announced at the Costa Book Awards ceremony in London on Tuesday 1st February 2022, when the winner will receive a cheque for £3,500 and the authors in second and third place will receive £1,000 and £500 respectively.

Adele Parks, one of the judges, comments: “It’s been such a joy to be involved in judging the Costa Short Story Award over the last few years. It’s wonderful to be able to give a platform to so many writers – many of whom might otherwise not have been discovered. It’s a great thing that this Award gives everyone and anyone the opportunity to break into publishing, a person’s background is irrelevant. Talent is all! I hope readers will enjoy these three new stories as much as we judges have.”

Over the past 10 years, the Costa Short Story Award has spotlighted several previously unpublished writers, some of whom have subsequently gone on to be published to acclaim.

Previous winners include: Tessa Sheridan (2020), a Palme D’Or-winning screenwriter and director; Anna Dempsey (2019), a Florida-born educator and writer based in London; Caroline Ward Vine (2018), a former magazine publisher from Kent, who recently completed her first novel, Stolen Threads; Glasgow-born primary school teacher Luan Goldie (2017), whose debut novel Nightingale Point was longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2020 and whose second novel, Homecoming, was published last year; Jess Kidd (2016) from Surrey, the author of three adult novels, the first in 2016, and one children’s book, who is now developing her own original TV projects; former headteacher Daniel Murphy from Scotland (2015); Kent-based writer Zoe Gilbert (2014), whose first novel Folk (2018) was adapted for BBC Radio 4 Extra’s Short Works series; Angela Readman (2013), a Newcastle-based writer and poet, who has had three full collections of poetry published and several shorter collections and Avril Joy, the Somerset-born inaugural winner (2012), a former prison governor turned full-time writer, who has since published two novels, the most recent in September 2021.

The Costa Book Awards is the only major UK book prize open solely to authors resident in the UK and Ireland. It also, uniquely, recognises the most enjoyable books across five categories – First Novel, Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children’s Book – published in the last year. Originally established by Whitbread PLC in 1971, Costa Coffee announced its takeover of the sponsorship of the UK’s prestigious and popular book prize in 2006. The Awards celebrate its 50th anniversary this year.

For more information on this year’s Costa Book Awards, go to

Twitter – @CostaBookAwards
Instagram – @costabookawards
Facebook –

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