Costa Short Story Award 2019: Identities of Three Finalists Revealed
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Costa Short Story Award 2019: Identities of Three Finalists Revealed

January 16, 2020 // // Wednesday 15th January 2020: Costa Coffee is today revealing the names of the three writers shortlisted for the 2019 Costa Short Story Award.

Established in 2012, the Award - run in association with the Costa Book Awards but judged independently of the main five-category system - is judged anonymously ie without the name of the author being known throughout the process.

It is open to both published and unpublished writers for a single, previously unpublished short story of up to 4,000 words by an author aged 18 years or over and written in English.

This year’s shortlisted writers are:

Anna Dempsey for The Dedicated Dancers of The Greater Oaks Retirement Community: Anna Dempsey is an American-born writer and teacher based in south-east London. She received an MA in Children’s Literature and Creative Writing from Goldsmiths College and an MA in Education from Touro College in NYC. She moved to London after several years of teaching in Brooklyn and she’s currently completing her debut YA novel, set in Florida (expect alligators). When she’s not writing she can be found tossing a frisbee in the park or teaching creative writing to children throughout the city. This is Anna's first piece of short fiction.

Kerry Hood for The Dog Friend of Dastardly: Kerry Hood has won/been shortlisted for several short story awards and was highly commended for the 2017 Costa Short Story Award. She writes about isolation and loneliness (with jokes) and is starting a bleakly funny collection exploring language and form. Her work has appeared in several publications, and two of her stories have been broadcast on BBC Radio 4. Kerry has also written ten plays and had residencies at the National Theatre, Traverse Theatre and RADA. She has a first-class degree in English Literature and writes full-time in Devon.

Iain Rowan for Birds of the Mountain: Iain Rowan lives in Sunderland and is an Academic Registrar at the university there. He’s the author of the crime novel One of Us (2012), has been shortlisted for both the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger and for the 2017 Bath Novel Award. In 2018 he won a Northern Writers’ Award for his (then) novel-in-progress, Going Under, now out on submission. Iain is Founder and Director of the Sunderland Festival of Creative Writing, and both founded and runs the Sunderland writers’ group, Holmeside Writers.

The author of the story that received the most public votes will be announced as winner and receive £3,500 at the Costa Book Awards ceremony which takes place on Tuesday 28th January, with second place receiving £1,000 and third place £500.

The shortlist of three stories was selected by a panel of judges comprising 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 authors Adele Parks and Kit de Waal, herself a finalist for the Costa Short Story Award in 2013.

The judges also had the option to highly commend up to six additional entries. This year, the judges chose the following three stories for commendation:

  • Not Contagious by Haleh Agar
  • A Guide to Household Infestations by Edward Hogan
  • Inside the Box by Lydia Vincent

Previous winners include Caroline Ward Vine (2018), a former magazine publisher from Kent, Newham-based primary school teacher Luan Goldie (2017), whose debut novel Nightingale Point was published by HarperCollins last year; Jess Kidd (2016) from Richmond in Surrey, the author of three novels, most recently Things in Jars published in April 2019; former headteacher Daniel Murphy from Stirling in Scotland (2015); and writer and PhD student Zoe Gilbert (2014) from Sydenham Hill, South East London.

The 2013 winner, Newcastle-based writer and poet Angela Readman, published her debut short story collection, Don’t Try This At Home, in 2015 by & Other Stories. Her latest collection of poems, The Book of Tides, was published by Nine Arches Press at the end of 2016. Former prison manager and now full-time writer, Avril Joy, from Witton-le-Wear in Bishop Auckland took the inaugural Award in 2012 and has since published an e-book, From Writing with Love.

Previous shortlistees include: Kit de Waal, a finalist in 2013 whose bestselling debut novel My Name is Leon was shortlisted for the 2016 Costa First Novel Award; Irish writer Billy O’Callaghan, runner-up in 2016, whose second novel My Coney Island Baby was published by Jonathan Cape in 2019; and Sheila Llewellyn, shortlisted for the Award in its inaugural year (2012) and then again in 2013, whose debut novel Walking Wounded was published by Sceptre in 2018.

The Costa Book Awards recognise the most enjoyable books of the last year by writers based in the UK and Ireland. Formerly known as the Whitbread Book Awards, Costa Coffee announced its takeover of the sponsorship of the UK’s prestigious and popular book prize in 2006.

For further press information, to arrange an interview with any of the Costa Short Story Award finalists please contact Amanda Johnson on 07715 922 180 or email

About the Costa Short Story Award:

  • The Costa Short Story Award was launched in 2012.
  • The Costa Short Story Award is for a single, previously unpublished short story of up to 4,000 words by an author aged 18 years or over and written in English.
  • The author’s primary residence must have been the UK or Ireland for the past three years.
  • The Award runs in association with the Costa Book Awards but is judged independently of the main five-category system.
  • Entrants need not have been previously published but publishers and agents may submit entries on behalf of authors.

About the Costa Book Awards:

  • The Costa Book Awards, formerly the Whitbread Book Awards, were established in 1971 to encourage, promote and celebrate some of the most enjoyable and best books published each year.
  • The total prize fund for the Costa Book Awards - including the Costa Short Story Award - stands at £60,000.
  • The award winners from the five categories - Novel, First Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children’s Book - each receive £5,000.
  • The overall Costa Book of the Year is selected from the five category Award winners with the winner receiving a further £30,000.
  • The winner will be announced at an awards ceremony in central London on 28th January, 2020.
  • The 2018 Costa Book of the Year was The Cut Out Girl by Bart van Es (Fig Tree).

About Costa Coffee

Founded in London by Italian brothers Sergio and Bruno Costa in 1971, Costa Coffee operates over 2,600+ coffee shops in the UK and more than 1,300+ in 31 international markets. We are proud to be the nation’s favourite coffee shop, having been awarded “Best Branded Coffee Shop Chain in the UK and Ireland" by Allegra Strategies for nine years running (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018).

Making a positive contribution to the communities we are part of is extremely important to us, both here in the UK and across the world. That’s why we established The Costa Foundation, a registered charity with the aim of improving the life chances of children in coffee growing communities by helping them access a safe, quality education. So far, the Costa Foundation has funded over 80 school projects and changed the lives of more than 75,000 children. We also have a UK-wide Community Programme, which enables our teams to volunteer their time to good causes locally and to invite community groups to make use of our welcoming space in store.

In 2011 Costa Coffee purchased Coffee Nation rebranding it to Costa Express. Today, Costa Express operates over 8,500+ coffee bars in nine international markets and proudly serves the same famous Mocha Italia blend found in stores, combined with fresh milk to create a delicious and warming cup of coffee on the go.

SOURCE Costa Coffee



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