Short story quest starts 

Cambridge Autumn Festival short story competition sponsor David Cooney with this year’s second place-getter, Mary Elsmore-Neilson, at the 2021 awards evening.  Photo: Michael Jeans

Organisers of the 2022 Cambridge Autumn Festival Short Story Competition hope this year’s theme of ‘Carpe Diem’, or ‘seize the day’, will inspire writers to enter.

The nationwide competition is now open.

Cambridge Autumn Festival chairperson Alana MacKay said it was interesting to see where writers took each year’s theme. “We’ve had stories from all genres – mystery, drama, horror, comedy, and more.  Last year was a lockdown theme, this year it’s something totally different.  The stories are as unique as the writers themselves, and we’re looking forward to seeing more great entries.”

The competition is sponsored by Cooney Insurance in association with the Maurice Trapp Group. Cooney Insurance director David Cooney said this was the company’s 10th year as sponsor.

“We are delighted to be involved again. What we love is that writers all around New Zealand can have a go, no matter their age or writing experience.”

The competition is free to enter. Prizes are $1000 for the winner, $500 for the second place-getter, and $250 for the third place-getter.

Writers can interpret the theme in whatever way they want, but their entry must be a work of fiction that is original and has not been either published before or entered into another competition.  Stories must be no more than 1500 words but can be fewer if preferred.  Last year’s competition attracted several short entries, with the shortest coming in at 171 words.  Entrants can submit multiple stories – both online and printed entries are welcomed, and there is no age limit.

Entries close on January 31 next year.  The winners will be announced during the Cambridge Autumn Festival, which in 2022 will run from March 25 to April 3.

Full competition details and the entry form are at the Cambridge Autumn Festival website (

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