Voting has opened for the 2019 Costa Short Story Award, with the public invited to pick their favourite from three stories written by mystery authors.
More than 900 entries were received for the prize, which is now in its eight year and is open to both published an unpublished authors for a previously unpublished story.
The stories are “Birds of the Mountain”, about a troubled father walking in the hills with the son he adores and facing an impossible decision, "The Dog Friend of Dastardly", billed as a “dark, funny story set somewhere between hate and love”, and "The Dedicated Dancers of The Greater Oaks Retirement Community", following a jaded New Yorker who heads south for the holidays and finds healing on the dance floor.
The identities of the authors will be revealed after public voting closes on 10th January, 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 on 28thJanuary 2020, 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.
All entries were judged anonymously by a panel featuring 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, Adele Parks and Kit de Waal, herself a finalist for the award in 2013.
Previous winners include last year’s victor Caroline Ward Vine, a former magazine publisher, primary school teacher Luan Goldie, whose debut novel Nightingale Point (HQ) was published this year and Jess Kidd, the author of three novels, most recently Things in Jars (Canongate) which was published in April this year.
The three stories can be read and listened to on the awards website.