*** Deadline extended to 29th October ***

Essex Book Festival is partnering with Explore Essex on its adventurous new Story Hunters Project. A quest to get people of all ages out and about exploring the amazing heritage and green spaces on the doorstep. 

Our intrepid adventurers are encouraged to visit one or more of 20 designated locations (outlined below) across Essex, and then transform that experience into a piece of original flash fiction that will be uploaded on the festival website, and entered into our Story Hunters Flash Fiction Competition. Winning stories will be announced at our award ceremony hosted by Cressing Temple Barns on Saturday 27th November (note: this date has been changed from Sunday 29th August).

Destinations – 20 Places to Explore

Colchester Castle, CO1 1TJ 

St Peter’s on the Wall Church, Bradwell-on-Sea, CM0 7PW 

Essex Record Office, Chelmsford, CM2 6YT 

Stock Tower Mill, Ingatestone, CM4 9RY 

Cudmore Grove Country Park, East Mersea, CO5 8UE 

Beeleigh Steam Mill, Maldon, CM9 6LJ 

Flitch Way, Braintree, CM77 7FS 

Southend-on-Sea Pier, SS1 2EE 

Wat Tyler Country Park, Pitsea, SS16 4UH 

Thorndon Country Park, Brentwood, CM13 3RZ 

Harwich Redoubt, COR 3LT 

Harlow Museum, CM20 2LF 

Roman Circus Centre, Colchester, CO2 7GT 

Hylands House & Gardens, Chelmsford, CM2 8WQ

Epping Forest Visitor Centre, IG10 4AF 

The Hythe Quay, Maldon

Cressing Temple Barns, CM77 8PD

Hadleigh Country Park, SS7 2PP

Jaywick Martello Tower, CO15 2LF

Danbury Country Park, CM3 4AW

Flash Fiction Competition

The story goes that novelist Ernest Hemingway won a bet by writing a short story that was only 6 words long: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” Essex Book Festival and Explore Essex challenge you to do the same.

You are invited to write a piece of fiction or a poem that is between 50-250 words based on a visit to one of twenty designated Heritage and Green Spaces across Essex. Once you have submitted your story, along with a digital photo of yourself at your destination as proof of visit, your story will be uploaded on the Essex Book Festival website.

All stories/poems will be automatically submitted into our Story Hunter Flash Fiction Competition. The deadline for entry has changed to 29th October 2021. Please submit to hello@essexbookfestival.org.uk with The Story Hunters Competition in the title.

The Rules 

  1. Entry is open to all ages. 
  2. There are two categories: Under 16’s, and 16 and Over.
  3. Entries must not have been previously published in print or online. 
  4. Entries must be based on an actual visit to one of the 20 designated Essex Green Spaces and Heritage Site.  (Exemptions apply for anyone with accessibility issues)
  5. Entries must be accompanied with a digital photo of the entrant at the relevant site. 
  6. Entrants can submit more than one entry as long as it relates to a different site.   


  1. The Flash Fiction entry must be between 50 – 250 words. 
  2. The document must be submitted as a pdf file to hello@essexbookfestival.org.uk 
  3. Please put your name, age and email address at the top of the entry.  


  1. Entry is online only via hello@essexbookfestival.org.uk 
  2. No corrections or alterations can be made after the entries have been received. 
  3. The deadline is 12pm, 29th October 2021. Winners will be announced at the Story Hunters Awards ceremony in November.


Under 16’s 

1 x Winner will win a £25 book token + festival tote bag   

4 x Runners Up will each win a £15 book token + festival tote bag 

Aged 16 +

 1 x Winner will win a one-hour online 1-2-1 consultancy session: How to Get Your Book Published with novelist and flash fiction specialist Dr Jonathan Crane + a bundle of festival books + Festival tote bag   

2 x Runners Up will each win a £25 book token + festival tote bag 


The competition will be judged by Festival Director Ros Green and novelist Dr Jonathan Crane.   

For more information please email: hello@essexbookfestival.org.uk    

Good Luck!!