Young would-be writers can show their skill as a popular North East competition returns -using the scariest day of the year as inspiration.

Sunderland’s annual Spooky Stories contest has now been launched, with the opportunity for youngsters across the city to show their terrifying talents by writing a tale in no more than 500 words.

The annual event, organised by Sunderland BID, is open to authors across three age groups – five to nine-year-olds, ten to 13-year-olds and 14 to 18-year-olds.

Entries will be judged on originality, plot, characterisation, language and the level of enjoyment that the judges feel reading the story.

The judging panel will include two best loved authors, award-winning David Crosby who created Pirates vs Monsters and Which Nose for Witch? and acclaimed writer of dark tales, David Turton.

Shortlisted story writers and the winners plus their families will be invited to a special event at The Peacock, Sunderland on 21 October, which is hosting a number of events as part of Sunderland Libraries’ Literary Festival.

Their stories will be read by authors and actors from community arts company, Atlas Theatre Group, with the winners receiving a £10 Waterstones Gift Card plus a Halloween treat box from Sunderland patisserie, The Sweet Petite.

The shortlisted entrants will also not miss out, as they will each receive a £5 Sunderland Gift Card.

All entries must be in by Friday 7 October and anyone who wants to enter can do so at

Sharon Appleby, Chief Executive of Sunderland BID, said she was delighted the competition was returning.

“This is a great really fun opportunity for young writers to show off their skills,” she said.

“We’re always amazed by the amount of creativity there is in the city and we look forward to seeing this year’s entries.”

Judge David Crosby can’t wait to see the entries. “I used to love writing stories when I were a lad, so I’m ridiculously excited to see what kind of tales of terror these young storytellers come up with,” he said.

“I’m a fan of the Goosebumps series (even though I only discovered it in my mid-thirties!), so I’m fond of a good monster.

“Give me a werewolf, an abominable snowman or a spooky scarecrow, and I’m hooked.

“And think setting – fairgrounds, mountaintop castles, and even supermarkets can all be enormous fun.

“These things work for writers of any age. And remember – spooky stories can be silly and funny too!”