04 May 2021

2021 Mystery Short Story Competition for Young Devon Writers – Now Open!

Anthony Horowitz OBE will be announcing the winners (Photograph (c) Jack Lawson)

Once again, the International Agatha Christie Festival invites young people and children living in Devon or attending school or college in the county, to enter a competition to find the most promising young mystery writers.

It’s free to enter

There are two categories: 9 to under 14 years old; and 14 to under 18 years old.

It’s easy to enter

We would like you to write a short story of up to 1,000 words about a mystery of some kind.

We are looking for:

  • originality and imagination – you must create your own characters;
  • quality of writing and use of language;
  • the ability to tell a story and hold the reader’s attention;
  • clever plotting, how clues are laid for the reader and how the mystery is solved.

Send your entry by email to agathafestivalcompetition@gmail.com with your name and address, the name of the school or college you attend and your date of birth. Full terms and conditions at www.iacf-uk.org

Competition Closing Date – midnight on 15 August 2021

Thanks to our generous sponsors, Wollens, PKF Francis Clark and HarperCollins Publishers, the winner in each category will win an Apple iPad Mini™ and a copy of Howdunnit?, the definitive guide to crime writing by over 90 authors, including Agatha Christie.  The winners will be announced online by the award-winning author Anthony Horowitz in September.

The judges in the Older writers’ category (14 to under 18 years old) are Sam Hepburn and blogger and crime fiction afcicionado Jim Noy

The judges in the Younger writers’ category (9 to under 14 years old) are Dee Lalljee, who runs the fabulous Crediton Community Bookshop, and Tiana-Louise Hammond, the winner of the older writers category in 2020.


Anthony Horowitz is one of the most prolific writers in the UK, unique for working across so many media, juggling writing books, TV series, films, plays and journalism. Anthony has written over 60 books, including bestselling teen spy series Alex Rider, which has sold over 21 million copies worldwide, and has now been adapted into two major television series produced by Sony and Eleventh Hour Films. Anthony is responsible for creating and writing some of the UK’s most beloved and successful television series including BAFTA award winning series Foyle’s WarMidsomer Murders, and Poirot. Anthony’s award-winning book Magpie Murders is currently being filmed, and the sequel Moonflower Murders is optioned to follow. His new crime book series featuring the detective Hawthorne has three books so far with a fourth being written. In 2014 Anthony was awarded an OBE for his services to literature. He has been a patron to East Anglia Children’s Hospices and Kidscape since 2008, and in 2019 became a patron to Suffolk charity Home-Start.

Sam Hepburn has won a number of prizes for her Young Adult thrillers. She won the Margery Allingham short story prize in 2017 and now writes psychological thrillers for adults.  She read modern languages at Cambridge University before joining the BBC.

Jim Noy blogs at The Invisible Event where he reviews mysteries, regularly featuring books written for younger readers. Jim has been a secondary school Maths teacher for over a decade, and his love of detective fiction was first ignited by the works of Agatha Christie. 

Dee Lalljee runs the fabulous Crediton Community Bookshop, shortlisted in the Independent Bookshop of the Year Awards and one of the best bookshops in the south west.

Tiana-Louise Hammond won the older writers’ category in 2020. She enjoys crime and mystery books, 1900 and 1950s fashion and she hopes to study criminology.

Agatha Christie Festival Ltd is a charity, funded by Arts Council England and an Associated Partner of the English Riviera UNESCO Global Geopark. Our aim is to use the extraordinary power and reach of Agatha Christie’s global reputation to promote engagement and participation in literature and the arts, help the recovery and growth of Torbay’s local economy and wider efforts to increase tourism and support work to understand and promote the area’s literary and geological heritage.

To achieve this, and working with private, public and third sector partners in Torbay and South Devon, we stage an annual festival for local people and Christie’s legion fans across Britain and around the world to celebrate Christie’s life and legacy, including high profile speakers and performances of her plays and poetry. We also use Festival receipts and funding provided by trusts and foundations, including The D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust, The Elmgrant Trust and The Linbury Trust, to create and deliver a series of arts participation and performance community projects, including support for young people from a disadvantaged background, older people and people on an alcohol/drug recovery programme. And we strive to maximise the Festival’s contribution to the local economy by sourcing goods and services locally wherever possible and by creating work experience and other opportunities for local young people in relation to Festival publicity, Festival events, and, where possible, Festival projects.