Short Story Competition 2021

Photos from the prizegiving event

Lady Glenconner with bestselling local author, Lesley Kara, introduce the prizewinners
The three finalists show off their certificates and book token prizes:
(L-R) Charlie Palmer (runner-up); Nancy Stevenson (runner-up); Clare Shaw (winner)


The ocean was smooth and calm like a melted ice rink. The only sound was the rhythmic flap of her oars as she rowed further out to sea. She was looking for Frinton. The scorching sun slapped down on her bare arms and she paused to tug down her shirt sleeves to protect them. She wiped her hand across her damp forehead and took a slug of water. You never got used to this heat, she thought. She breathed in the stench of salt and rotting fish and coughed, her rasping throat as dry as driftwood on the blistering beach.

       She decided to use the outboard motor for a while to give her aching arms a rest. It spluttered and gurgled but then the whine of the engine began and the old boat bobbed across the water like a fairground horse. She thought of the dog eared photographs of Frinton her grandmother had left behind – the miles of sparkling sand like a desert, interspersed by lines of wooden posts tapering into the sea, the rows of coloured beach huts inviting you in to their fairytale shelters, the azure skies with solitary white clouds hanging like a child’s mobile, the swimmers, the paddlers with trousers rolled up to pink knees, the relaxers sprawled like basking seals on their striped beach towels. When she was a child, her grandmother had told her, there was a tranquility you only found at Frinton and a unique freshness to the salty breeze there. She would find Frinton in memory of her grandmother.

       She switched off the engine and took hold of the oars, rowing with a steady beat so that she became mesmerised by the dull splash of the blades hitting the water and lost all sense of time slipping by. She had long drifted past the old wind farm, silent and unmoving in the still air and now there were no landmarks. It was too deep for jutting rocks or sandy ridges, too remote for man made structures. But a sixth sense told her she had arrived.

       She gulped more water, pulled on her mask and put her snorkel into her waiting mouth. She fell back into the sea, the water colder than expected smacking against her fiery body which made her breath stop for a moment as her heart thumped like running footsteps on a boardwalk. She adjusted to the change of temperature, looked down below her and knew she had guessed right. Skeletons of houses, broken walls, the rusting metal of old cars, the shapes of a community. Everything that she saw told her that this was the remains of the famous seaside town. She came up to the surface and checked her boat was still there then plunged down further so that she could see smaller items which had sunk to the bottom. Among the clusters of roof tiles and rotting shop signs, were the bones of the people who were left behind. They lay on the sandy ocean floor as if still basking under the gentler sun of better times.

       As she spun round, a sense of loss overwhelmed her and that was when she heard it – a hollow echoing sound like a recorded voice slowed down – ‘we knew, we knew, we knew.’ Other voices joined in with this pleading, warning cry from the past to create an eerie chorus of suffering and torment. She spun round but saw no-one, and fear enveloped her so that she had to get away. She tried to push herself up from the sea bed but felt something force her back down. She struggled in her desperate need for air but the voices seemed to hold her under the water. Then came a solitary, crackly voice – ‘we knew, we knew, but we carried on.’ Her grandmother’s cry of regret and pain.

       She longed to see her and smell the sweet lavender odour of her skin, to feel her gentle hand in hers but she had to breathe and time was running out. Just as she was beginning to feel faint with the lack of oxygen, she was released and rose up quickly, bursting through the surface like a geyser where she immediately gasped for air. The voices were still calling like a parliament of tawny owls – ‘look, look, look.’ She scrambled back into the boat and tried to start the engine but it crackled and coughed and died with a low moan. ‘Look, look, look’ came the ghostly chorus. Crying with frustration and terror, she grabbed the oars and started to row frantically. She had to get away. But the voices followed her -‘ look, look, look’. But there was nothing to look at. What did they want, these spirits of the ocean? ‘Look after what you have,’ came her grandmother’s voice. ‘Look after what you have.’ And then she understood. She had been afraid of the ghosts but it was their message which should be scaring her. They had bought her lessons from years gone by, a past that must never be repeated. She tried the motor and it started again but then she stopped it. She would row her way back to Chelmsford-On-Sea. She had time.



  White-capped waves roll inland, crashing and fizzing onto the sand. Overhead, wheeling gulls caw and dive for chips across a bruised and angry sky.

  And here I sit. My favourite place, my bench on the esplanade.

  ‘Eleanor Portman 1927-1999. I miss you every day.’

  Feels a bit of a reach calling it ‘my’ bench when it has someone’s name in brass on it, but it’s been a few years since the much-missed Eleanor staked a claim and as I’m here most days, I’m sure she’d indulge me. I ask out loud if she minds. Obviously there’s no reply.

  Silly old fool.

  A gusting wind whips across the headland and I bury my chin into my jumper. Some bloody August this is turning out to be. The hours pass, as they always do. The sun climbs, and falls. As it always does. This day, almost like every other. Almost. But not quite. For today, I’m not alone.

  I don’t have to look. I know he’s there. Next to me.

  I can feel him.

  The first time I saw him was at the foot of my bed. Drab olive uniform, still muddy. A flapping name tag ‘Chin-Li’ and star of the Korean People’s Army above a blossom of blood on his chest. October 16th, 1967. I remember the date because I took a call later that morning, informing me Mother had passed. He’d stood silently, face pale and wan in the steely morning light. His lips moved, as if to impart some message but no words came out. Only a blood bubble, which ran down his cheek and burst on his chin.

  The next time was August 1972, in the checkout queue in my local Sainsburys. Just watching me. I don’t recall what I was in there for. I hurried home, leaving my shopping on the belt. Coming up the drive I could hear the phone ringing. It was Father’s neighbour with bad news. A massive stroke, a few minutes of jerky ballet and he too was gone.

  It was nearly three decades before I saw Chin-Li again. In fact, it is fair to say I had all but forgotten my spectral visitor. And then 1999, top deck of the 97 bus from Clacton to Frinton, I felt his breath upon my neck. Lemongrass. Garlic. And the heavy, ferrous tang of blood. I’d turned slowly and there he was in the seat behind. This time he seemed more animated. Almost joyful. Button eyes sparkled and an ambiguous smirk played on thin lips. I snapped my head back, squeezed my eyes shut and counted to 10. When I dared look again he was still there. He even treated me to a child-like wave. I’m not proud of my response, a full throated scream and an unedifying retreat. I pulled myself upright, kicking over my shopping bag, and was chased down the aisle by an errant apple. Pink Gala, probably. They’re my favourite. When I got home I slammed the door behind me, pulled the curtains shut, and lay on the floor, arms wrapped around my chest. I must have nodded off, waking to the doorbell and two uniformed policemen. And that was how I learned about Eleanor, a child’s scream, a dropped book and a single flipflop left on the beach. A heroic act. And her last.

  Sitting here, from my bench, I can see the spot where the North Sea took her.

  Is that a snuffle next to me? Movement? Getting impatient Chin-Li? I won’t look. I won’t give him the satisfaction.

  I never wasted much energy trying to work out what he was. Korean folklore tells of gwisin, spirits that roam the earth until they complete tasks they failed to do when alive. I like this theory. There’s a certain logic to it. After all, it’s safe to say Chin-Li’s life was .. cut short. In the Middle East they’re djinns. India it’s bhoots. Every society has its own phantoms, it just so happens mine is called Chin-Li.

  Actually, now I think of it, I believe I may have misled you. Not intentionally of course. I’m well past any notion of redemption. But when I said the first time I saw Chin-Li was at the foot of my bed, it wasn’t true. That was the second time. The first was in a frost-hardened field, some five thousand miles away in Kapyong, Korea. February, 1951. That was the first time I saw Chin-Li.

  And that was when I killed him.

  We hadn’t slept in days. It was too cold for that. But it was a different type of cold. People like to moan they’re ‘freezing’ waiting for the bus, but they don’t know the meaning of the word. The air burned your lungs it was so cold. Breaths formed little clouds when they reluctantly left you, and floated away on the wind. Patten, my mate from training, was next to me in the foxhole. Still as night, staring at his feet. Willing time to pass. There was a flash, followed by a bang. Smoke and the smell of cordite rose above the treeline. Distant wails turned into a low sobbing. Patten, or what was left of him, fell in a pink rain around me. What happened next was the damnedest thing. Chin-Li appeared, running through the smoke. He looked as surprised as me as fell into the trench. I raised my rifle in defence. When I looked up, he was skewered on my bayonet. Face inches from mine. He coughed bloody freckles onto me. Tried to speak. And then his eyes dimmed and he went limp.

  That’s Chin-Li’s story. And mine I suppose. But one that ends here. Today. On a blustery, unseasonably cold afternoon on Frinton esplanade. I know he’s come for me, must be. There’s no one else left.

  He’s still there. I can feel him.   Shifting my weight to one side, I turn to face my nemesis, and this time, he smiles.


The Ghost Reader

I sit in the alcove, surrounded by children’s books.  I am reading Feng Shui for Beginners in the light of my ethereal glow.  I wonder why my eyesight is so much better now I am dead. Who would have thought that death can improve one’s eyesight? 

This is where I died.  Not right in this spot, but here in the hospice book shop – mid-way down the aisle on the left.  I think back to that day.  A walk along the Greensward followed by my regular browse in the bookshop. I read prolifically but without method.  One week a romance, the next a crime novel, fiction, non-fiction – I read them all.  I love this shop – it provides my regular supply of second-hand books coupled with a sense of virtue as I donate to a local charity. 

Back to my death.  I remember arriving at ‘L’ Marina Lewycka.  I recognised her name – couldn’t pronounce it – but I recognised it.  I remembered that she once wrote a book about tractors – nice characters – I liked that one.   The book on the shelf was called the The Lubetkin Legacy and the cover looked promising.  I read the blurb on the back, then opened the book and looked inside.  There was a message.  I loved reading messages in second hand books .  This one was carefully written in fountain pen  “To Gloria.  Happy Birthday. I will always love you.  Fred.

I read the message again, confused.  The script was familiar, letters slanting off to the left.  That was my Fred’s writing.  I inhaled sharply and felt my shoulders tense.  Who the hell was Gloria!  And then I realised … That Gloria! Short skirt, too much cleavage, brassy Gloria from the Salon.   My heart broke with a peculiar crack.  Stopped dead – not another beat.  My body crumpled and my soul drifted up towards the bookshop ceiling where I hovered and watched as people crowded around.  I saw the ambulance arrive and then leave with my body on a stretcher. 

My disembodied self has been here for a few months and it has taken some adjusting.  For the first two weeks I tried to amass enough energy to leave the shop.  Every day I failed and I spent each evening weeping by the doorway.   I mourned for my old life, my walks on the beach, and those days sitting in my beach hut, cup of tea in hand, watching dog walkers or gazing out toward the horizon and listening to the sea.  But then I realised it was time to embrace my spirit-self and move on.

I discovered that there was fun to be had in ghosting on the day that  Gloria tottered in on her too-high heels, wearing one of my necklaces.  Bloody cheek I thought.  First my husband, then my jewellery and now my bookshop.  I stood behind her, and reached out to retrieve my necklace.  As my hand touched her sun-raddled neck she started. I touched again – goose bumps and a shiver that reverberated through her scrawny shoulders.  She felt her neck with acrylic nails, looked around, then shrugged and resumed her browsing.  This was war!  I looked around, found the biggest book I could lift and threw it at the back of her carefully coiffed head.  It struck hard and she let out a little yelp – more chihuahua than human.  I scrabbled at the books on the shelves around her sending them cascading into the floor.  By now she was screaming and the volunteers, disturbed by the commotion, gathered around. 

‘Madam!  You can’t do that to the books’

‘You have to leave the shop. Right now, or we will call the police.’ 

She was ushered out of the door, snivelling

“It wasn’t me!  I didn’t do it!”

The volunteers ejected her, ignoring her protestations. 

That foray into poltergeisting was fun – but rather exhausting, and caused irreparable damage to several books.  I realise that I am not that sort of spirit and have settled into a more sedate role as a ghost volunteer.  I have many duties – cataloguing books when the others have gone home and during opening hours I like keep an eye on the customers.  I have become the unofficial store detective, seeking out the light-fingered.  I see them off with cold touch and a rasping whisper ‘I can see you!  Put it back’ . 

Most of the time I am well behaved but I do have one guilty pleasure.  I regularly write inscriptions in the books that might appeal to Fred.

To Bert,  You are my only love.  Gloria.

To Frank. Thank you for another wonderful night.  Gloria.   

To Bill.  My love, I can’t wait to see you again.  Gloria

He hasn’t come in – probably too scared – it doesn’t matter.  The pleasure is in the writing and the hope that these messages will stir up some gossip.  I realise that everything I need is right here.  Last week I walked the South West Coast Path with Raynor Winn and the week before journeyed along the Essex coast with Tom Bolton.  I learned how to sail in a weekend and am discovering more about marshland birds.  I lived in a shack with Kya, deep in the North Carolina marshland, near to the place where the Crawdads sing.  I searched for the Essex Serpent with Cora and then visited the coastlands Tanzania and Mexico with my guide from the Lonely Planet.   I read and I read, learning more each day, immersing myself in stories and exploring exotic and unusual locations around the world.  When my spirit rested here I assumed I was in limbo – waiting to be transported somewhere else.   But now I realise that I am destined to spend eternity here in Frinton-on-Sea.  I have just finished reading Thin Places: An Evangelical Journey Into Celtic Christianity andrealise have arrived at my thin place – the place where heaven meets earth.  I am free!


The Waltzers

‘There she goes – regular as clockwork.’

The cafe proprietor nudged a sluggish looking student, serving ice-cream.

‘Weird, don’t you think?’ He said in a half whisper. ‘After everything that happened,

you’d think this would be the last place she’d come.’

 The young man had heard the story before. It was ancient history. But seeing her

here… He followed her with his eyes while a scoop of melting ice-cream dripped down his white T-shirt.

 Catherine passed the amusement arcade. She felt the satisfying spring of the boards under her feet – as familiar to her as lines on her face. The carousel horses snorted at her with their large, flaring nostrils. Then came the bumper cars – noisy, impudent things. Her ankles were chafed and swollen above ill-fitting shoes. She lowered herself carefully on to her usual seat and inhaled the air. A blend of salt, sugar and grease. The film across her eyes had worsened lately and for a brief moment she couldn’t see it. She blinked. Then felt a tingle of excitement. There it was. The separate leaves which formed the undulating carriage, and the cup-shaped cars sliding on their well oiled coasters. There was no ride quite like the Waltzers.

Sundays had always meant a family trip to Walton pier. Pennies for the slot machines – weighty, substantial coins, not like today’s fiddly things. And candy floss. Not in a bag, but on a stick. But most important were ‘the rides’. There was an art in choosing the fastest Waltzer car. You had to know what you were doing. It took experience.

 ‘Quick, the red one,’ shouted Mary, Catherine’s sister, as she raced the other riders for the best of the pick. The steep slant of the car on the revolving platform had to be exactly right. Hopping in, they sat side by side like two pieces of cheese in a mousetrap – their slim, teenage figures held in place by the heavy, safety bar. Exchanging sidelong grins, the sisters acknowledged their shared anticipation – their shared mastery of the ride.

‘This way,’ cried Mary, as the car began to turn. Her words were unnecessary. Leaning to one side their combined body-weight propelled the motion on. Spinning and spinning, with their dark hair flying and their heads pinned against the shiny, black plastic. After a few minutes, they saw a strong pair of hands grip the back of the car.

‘Ready girls?’ Bobby grinned roguishly at them.

Catherine’s cheeks burned. And suddenly the world turned at twice the speed.

‘Fancy a ride, Cathy? A cheerful voice broke into her memories.

‘Why, Bobby,’ she said, sweeping away a stray wisp of grey hair. ‘What are you doing here?’

‘Waiting for you, my darlin’,’ he said, flirtatious as ever.

She smiled shyly. He hadn’t changed a bit. Standing with his hands on his hips. Those dancing, blue eyes staring back at her. She could have been sixteen again.

‘Not today, Bobby,’ she said, remembering her tea. It was haddock on Fridays. Very tasty with scrambled eggs. She pictured the bright, yellow fish next to the pale yellow eggs. Catherine walked slowly up the uneven pathway, leaning heavily on her stick. Today the slight hill seemed steeper than ever. She paused to rest on the corner where the crazy golf used to be. She’d been in love with him, of course. With his tousled blonde hair and lazy smile. He rode the Waltzers, like a yacht skimming the waves, courageous and beautiful.

‘Catherine loves Bobby…Catherine loves Bobby,’ her school friends chanted relentlessly. She blushed and denied it. But it was true.

‘Bobby Smith’s a wrong ‘un.’ Her father told her. ‘No good setting your cap at him, my girl.’

She was forbidden to see him, so they met in secret. In the concrete shelters along the seafront, amongst the marshy grasslands and tidal creeks of the Backwaters, or in the flaxen, sun-drenched cornfields behind her home. They spent one glorious Summer together.

‘Will you always love me, Bobby?’ She asked, one June afternoon, as they lay together amid the straw bales. Shifting languidly, Bobby raised himself up on one elbow to look at her. The midday sun streamed around his head creating a halo of light. There was dust on his tanned face, and stalks of pale, yellow straw clung to his golden hair.

‘My sweet, Cathy,’ he murmured, his eyes full of fire and life.

‘Promise me,’ she breathed into his ear. ‘Promise me, we’ll be together forever.’

She felt the warmth of his body cover her like a blanket. His tender lips press against hers.

‘I’ll never let you go, my Cathy,’ was all he said.

It came to an end at the same place it had begun. On the Waltzers. In a twisted irony of fate. Laying in the hospital bed, Catherine heard her sister’s voice dimmed with grief.

‘The newspapers are full of it. They say it was a weak cable…’

Catherine didn’t need to see the words. Bobby’s magnificent body cruelly trapped under the relentless, grinding metal. The ride travelling on in a frenzy of speed. Her own gut-wrenching scream above the strangled whine of the motor. She remembered the orange sparks piercing the air like a firework. Then nothing, just darkness. He had died and Catherine had lived.

Catherine wiped a blob of egg from her chin. She’d married Gerald Piper – an insurance salesman. They hadn’t been happy. Not really. Open fires weren’t popular these days, she thought, drawing the rug over her knees. It was all radiators and instant hot water. She watched the orange flames licking at the glowing coals. Heavy with sleep, her eyes closed. The sing-song music of the carousel floated into the airless room. Catherine’s head lolled forward. A voice whispered in her ear.

‘I’ve been waiting for you, my Cathy.’


Ghosts on the Coast

I was young when the Naze Tower succumbed to the rising water. For 350 years it stood fast against the wind, waves and weather, proclaiming itself to be mightier than the sea it watched. The beginning saw the sea defences cracking, their restoration impossible against the increasing power of the tide. The days became cooler, the water developed a dark green hue and began its inundation with surprising speed. The winter storms were passionate, The Tower was overwhelmed, smothered by the Sea it had regarded with admiration for so long. This dismal, muddy vision is devoid of the colour I remember. Where once the tangles of verdant bramble thickets and rolling waves of rough grasslands teemed with reed warblers and lapwings, now are sodden swells of sludge and desolation.

I am old and tired, and I wade half submerged most days scavenging what I can, sifting through the detritus left by people who once lived in this town by the sea. Up Old Road and down Connaught Avenue, the buildings are ravaged by the water, concrete shells, where sometimes an old ice cream fridge will betray its original purpose. Disorderly piles of sodden sandbags scattered everywhere. Today I wash through the buildings in search of relics to reminisce by.

I am a climate refugee, we displaced people whose lives and livelihoods were permanently altered as the waters rose around us. Our fragile systems of agriculture could not cope with the temperature fluctuations, and so they ceased. The stocks of fish, their populations disrupted so irrefutably, caused industry and family alike to perish.

I see others like me, floating in their little canoes, moving quietly through the diminished landscape, using what they can. The shock of displacement is written on their faces, the vacant stare, the weathered lines around their eyes, the symbols of desperation and despair tattooed on their skin. Those who have chosen to remain are haunted by their pasts, unable to let go, stuck in water-logged limbo.

As I examine the contents of an abandoned pub, I come across a box wedged between two rusted kitchen appliances. A box that had been forgotten. The contents will not feed me; old newspapers and a scrapbook, that I select and remove from the pile. It smells of mildew and salt and I hope that the water hasn’t warped the text too badly, I am in great need of something to read. I unzip my backpack and I delicately place it inside.

I turn left out of the pub, past uninhabited and derelict shops. I scan the street for useful things, floating or sunken, nothing catches my eye. I trudge towards my little canoe, tethered to an old war memorial that breaks the surface of the water, disturbing the uneventful seascape. I manoeuvre myself awkwardly into my craft and push out into the deeper water. I drift, silently, towards where the old esplanade now lies beneath, reclaimed by the sea. I aim my canoe towards the tallest apartment block still standing, its white V shaped pillars just visible above the water line. It looks sturdy and surely some rooms must remain intact and dry. I align myself with a pillar and look up, there is an open balcony that I could climb to. I sling my backpack onto my shoulders. It is twilight, and the wind is becoming agitated, my canoe sways treacherously in the swell. I stand in my boat, precariously balancing as I try to throw my winch rope around the rail of the balcony. Although I am not yet frail, and I have many winters experience surviving, the cable does not find its mark and the metal hook falls from the sky and smashes into my head. Everything goes dark.

Through erratic consciousness I experience broken memories, the cold splash of seawater, the stinging in nose, throat and eyes of salt water, and then weightlessness. Next, a male face, an arm with a cherry blossom tattoo, an uncomfortable scraping against my back. Then warmth, stillness, darkness. Dreamless sleep. A banging headache, a peak of light from the morning sun.

I awake to find I am inside the apartment I had unsuccessfully tried to enter the evening before. Confused and disoriented, I slowly get up and walk to the window. The morning is gloriously bright, and the sea is calm and mesmerising. I make my way around the apartment, searching for signs of how I managed to get here. The room is sparsely furnished; there is an old beige sofa and sideboard with broken ornaments and framed photos of a family long gone. Images of a small, fair child eating an ice cream in front of a striped, wooden beach hut. Grandparents sitting in red camp chairs, between wooden groynes, with book and newspaper in their laps, and a man and woman in summer clothes, pale skin exposed to the sun, holding hands in front of the shoreline, barefooted and smiling.

I settle onto the sofa and reach for my bag. I remember the scrapbook I had recovered and am keen to take my mind off the pain in my head, by revealing its contents. It is a collection of newspaper articles, carefully cut and placed, describing the plight of the refugees, the families separated during the first, violent inundation; a tsunami the likes of this coast had not seen for 10,000 years. The articles focus on one family, a local woman that managed to escape the chaos, who found higher ground and was desperate to recover her husband. The last story reports the retrieval of his body from the flood water. His death is another reminder of our sorrowful situation. The photo attached is grainy, but I can clearly make out the couple, standing together by the seafront, holding hands, smiling with joyful abundance. The same photo that stands on the very sideboard in front of me. And on his left arm, the man proudly displays his cherry blossom tattoo.

14th October – we have received permission from all shortlisted authors to publish their short stories here, so we’ll be doing that once the results are announced at the Literary Lunch on Saturday, 23rd October.

Many thanks for all of your entries to this year’s Short Story Competition.

We have selected our shortlist, which is as follows:

Looking for Frinton – Clare Shaw
Next To Me – Charlie Palmer
The Ghost Reader – Nancy Stevenson
Ghosts on the Coast – Polyanna Manning
The Waltzers – Sandy Stidston

If you didn’t make the shortlist, please don’t be dispirited. All of the entries this year were of an extremely high standard, and it was a pleasure reading your work.

All shortlisted authors will be contacted by email on 11th October.
The three finalists will be invited to join us at the Festival Literary Lunch on Saturday 23rd October, where the winner will be announced.


Thank you to everyone who has entered this year’s competition. Judging has begun. As stated in the terms and conditions, we are unable to provide individual feedback on any of the submissions.

We are pleased to announce:

The 2021 Frinton Literary Festival Short Story Competition

“Ghosts on the Coast”

Your challenge is to write a 1,000 word ghost story. We are an island nation, and our history is enriched by stories connected with the sea, so we are looking for stories which feature some aspects of our beautiful coastline here in North Essex. Whether you have a haunted beach hut, a ghostly fishing boat, or mysterious footsteps in the sand, the subject is entirely up to you.

Then all you have to do is email your story to us at before 10pm on Sunday 19th September 2021.
The shortlisted authors will be listed on the website on 1st October 2021.
The three finalists will be notified by email on 11th October. They will be invited to join us as our guests at the Festival Literary Lunch with Lady Anne Glenconner on Saturday, 23rd October at Frinton Tennis Club, where the overall winner will be announced. The winner will receive a £50 Caxton Books gift voucher.

Entry is FREE, but please make sure you check the guidelines, terms and conditions below:


Lesley Kara: Lesley is an alumna of the Faber Academy ‘Writing a Novel’ course. She completed an English degree and PGCE at Greenwich University, having previously worked as a nurse and a secretary, and then became a lecturer and manager in Further Education. She lives on the North Essex coast. Her novels The Rumour, Who Did You Tell, and The Dare, are published by Transworld, a division of Penguin Random House.

Gordon Wise: Gordon became a literary agent at Curtis Brown in 2005 but began working in the book industry in 1989 as a bookseller. He went on to be an editor and later, Publishing Director at companies including Pan Macmillan and John Murray/Hachette. Besides managing his own wide-ranging list of fiction and non-fiction clients, he is Joint Managing Director of Curtis Brown’s Book Department, and has been Agent of the Year at the British Book Industry Awards and President of the Association of Authors’ Agents.

Anita Belli: Anita is both a traditionally and independently published novelist. She writes 20th Century Historical Novels and Contemporary Romance, and has published non-fiction books to accompany her workshop series. As a creative writing tutor, Anita works in schools, libraries and communities to inspire as many people as possible to explore creative writing, tell their own story and to publish their work.

Gerald Hornsby: Gerald has written and published several full-length novels and hundreds of pieces of short and micro fiction. Active in independent publishing since 2010, he has published seven crime and thriller novels under his own name and his pseudonym, Jack Warwick. Gerald has been a co-host of the Literary Roadhouse podcast for over 3 years, is co-owner of publisher Hard Pressed Books and writing support services company

Terms and conditions of entry
• Frinton Literary Festival 2021 Short Story Competition is open to all writers living or working in North Essex, which includes Tendring and Colchester.
• Entrants must be over 18.
• Family members or close friends of the four judges will not be eligible.
• There is no limit to the number of entries any one entrant is allowed to make. Each entry must be sent in a separate email.
• Short story pieces of up to 1000 words, excluding the title, are eligible for entry. Entries over this length will not be eligible.
• Stories must be an identifiable ghost story.
• All submissions must be written in English.
• Format your story in Times New Roman or similar font, Size 12, 2.0/1.5 spacing, using black font colour.
• Please supply your name and the name of your story in the body of the email and attach the story as a Microsoft Word .doc or .docx file.
• Stories must be submitted anonymously, without any identifying information on the attachment. Attachments that include names or contact information will not be eligible.
• We are unable to offer personalised feedback for entries.
• All entries must be submitted via email only to:
We are unable to accept postal entries or hard copy entries. If this poses a problem, please contact Caxton Books and Gallery.
• Our competitions are run and judged internally. Our judging team is comprised of 4 authors and agent working in the literary industry, who are also members of the Frinton Literary Festival Committee.
• The closing deadline is 10pm, GMT (21:59pm) on the 19th September 2021.
• Winners will be notified by email on 11th October 2021 and on the Frinton Literary Festival website shortly afterwards.
The finalists should make themselves available to be present at the Frinton Literary Festival Literary Lunch on Saturday, 23rd October 2021 at 1pm. Tickets will be collected from Caxton Books and Gallery in Frinton, or can be posted, once the finalists have been notified.