insta profile aug 2020Emma Ashmere was born in Adelaide, South Australia, on Kaurna land. Her short stories have been widely published including in  The Age, Griffith Review, Overland, Review of Australian Fiction, Sleepers Almanac, Etchings, Spineless Wonders, #8WordStory, NGVmagazine,  and the Commonwealth Writers literary magazine adda. She was shortlisted for the 2019 Commonwealth Writers Short Story Award, 2019 Newcastle Short Story Award, 2018 Overland NUW Fair Australia Prize, and the 2001 Age Short Story Competition. Her new short story collection DREAMS THEY FORGOT  is published by Wakefield Press.

**Latest News: Emma has short stories longlisted for The Big Issue Fiction Edition 2020, and also for the Heroines Anthology Prize 2020 (Neo Perennial Press); plus another in the forthcoming Aust/NZ Scorchers Climate Fiction Anthology (Eunoia Publishing).**

She has worked as a researcher, tutor, bookseller – and  as a cook on film sets, an isolated cattle station, Sydney cafés, London pubs, and an art school in the south of France. She has a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Adelaide, a PhD on the use of marginalised histories in fiction from La Trobe University Melbourne, and is a recipient of the QWC/Olvar Wood award. She lives in northern New South Wales.



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DREAMS THEY FORGOT – Emma’s new short story collection DREAMS THEY FORGOT is published in paperback and ebook by Wakefield Press – and is on the Sydney Morning Herald’s Books to Read in 2020 and Readings Books to Get Excited About. Read more about it here.


“Emma Ashmere’s characters are luminescent. These stories drew me into people and worlds so vivid they practically lived on the page.”  — ANNA SPARGO-RYAN, author of The Gulf, and The Paper House.

‘Ashmere’s writing is full of quick insights and telling details. These stories move effortlessly through place and time, entering lives on the point of transgression. It’s an absolute pleasure to travel with them.’ — JENNIFER MILLS, author of Dyschronia, The Rest is Weight, and The Diamond Anchor. 

‘Stories of extraordinary range and depth. Deeply engaging and satisfying.’ — PADDY O’REILLY, author of Peripheral Vision, The End of the World, and The Wonders.


‘Ashmere’s prose is precise, almost elusive, reading at times like poetry. It drills down into certain details while leaving others out entirely. This invites the reader to complete the picture by tying together the story elements that Ashmere has chosen to share…The deft description, compelling emotion and insightful observations… will appeal to readers of feminist fiction and Australian realism, in particular fans of Dymphna Cusack or Fiona McGregor.’ ADAM FORD, BOOKS+PUBLISHING, 15 July 2020.   (Read the full review here.)

“The stories in this strong and varied collection range across urban and rural Australia and beyond, to such touchstones of Australian travel as Bali and London, and to more exotic settings such as Borneo and regional France. Emma Ashmere’s stories are often impressionistic, never laboriously chewing on their material and trusting the intelligence of the reader to join the dots and grasp the underlying feeling. There are some excellent stories about family life, especially those told from the point of view of a semi-comprehending and bemused child or adolescent. But Ashmere’s greatest strength is in her stories of the historical past, especially in Australia. These stories acknowledge the limits of what is knowable to contemporary readers, evoking instead the unrecoverable strangeness and mystery of the past.” KERRYN GOLDSWORTHY, SYDNEY MORNING HERALD/AGE, 5 Sept 2020.


“Ashmere moves skillfully and seamlessly between eras and places… this variety is also a strength, making each story feel different from those surrounding it…  a thoughtful meditation on the things that can hold you down, and the different ways through.” ELIZABETH FLUX, THE SATURDAY PAPER, 12 Sept 2020.

“Generally, an author’s work improves with time, but all twenty-three stories in Dreams They Forgot are of equal quality. In some collections, stories can blur together, but the diverse locations and historical periods utilised in these stories make each piece memorable.” ANNIE CONDON, READINGS MONTHLY, Sept 2020.

“These short stories have the compressed clarity of diamonds. From somewhere deep, Ashmere brings these small stories to the surface and sets to crafting them. Every angle and facet is laser cut and polished to perfection. Turn them slowly in your hands. Be dazzled by the light that glances and bounces off their surfaces and be drawn to the shadows that lie within.” JENNY BIRD, BYRON WRITERS FESTIVAL, Sept/Oct NORTHERLY.

“Emma Ashmere’s short story collection, Dreams They Forgot, is creatively atmospheric, a series of ‘slice of life’ vignettes set in a variety of eras with a mostly feminist leaning. Emma writes with sublime texture, so much simmering beneath the surface. ” THERESA SMITH, THERESA SMITH WRITES, 25 Sep 2020.


Wed 11 November 6.30pm (Adel time). Feast Festival online event. Join Emma Ashmere via zoom at Adelaide’s annual Feast LGBTQIA+ Festival. Free zoom event – but you need to register. More details soon.

Behind The Book

Q&A with the Feminist Writers Festival about writing Dreams They Forgot

View a recording of ” Women Who Break The Rules” online event Readings Bookshop (available until Mon 28th Sept) Passcode H@Ek2mr – Emma Ashmere (Dreams They Forgot) and Laura Elvery (Ordinary Matter) talking to publisher/editor Jo Case about their new short story collections.

Catch A Passing Thought‘ writing short stories.

Author Talk with Theresa Smith Writes.

Interview with SA Weekend.

‘Finding Irish Iris’ writing the story ‘Nightfall’, shortlisted for the 2019 Commonwealth Writers Prize.

Chatting to Pamela Cook and Kel Butler on the W4W podcast

Where To Buy The Book

Find Dreams They Forgot (RRP AUD $24.95) at your local bookshop or online:

Wakefield Press (Adelaide) paperback and e-book

Avid Reader (Brisbane)

Bookroom at Byron (Northern NSW)

Booktopia (Online)

Gleebooks (Sydney)

Readings (Melbourne)

Imprints Bookshop (Adelaide)

Lismore Book Warehouse (Northern NSW)

Matilda Bookshop (Adelaide Hills)

National Library (Canberra)

Dymocks Books (Online)

*Available as an e-book from Wakefield Press. Some prices vary on international sites Book Depository,  Fishpond,  Amazon etc.*


Emma Ashmere The Floating Garden Cover

Emma’s debut novel The Floating Garden was shortlisted for the 2016 Small Press Network MUBA prize.


“…a beautiful meditation on grief, guilt, and regret, set against the backdrop of Milsons Point, Sydney, 1926.” JUDGES’ REPORT 2016 Small Press Network MUBA prize.

“…evocatively portrays both the difficulties and the sense of promise in the post-war era… at times it reminded me of Tim Winton’s Cloudstreet.” ⋆⋆⋆⋆ (four stars) BOOKS+PUBLISHING

“…beautifully detailed… finely crafted…an elegy for the forgotten….a subversive counter-history to the tumult of rapid progress.” SYDNEY MORNING HERALD/AGE. Read the full review here.

“This captivating debut… teems with charlatans, eccentrics and those doing it tough in a time of hardship and prejudice. Yet Ashmere weaves a sense of hope and redemption as her characters seek to rediscover their true selves.” ⋆⋆⋆⋆ (four stars) THE ADVERTISER.

“I enthusiastically recommend this book … a new type of historical fiction.” ⋆⋆⋆⋆ (four stars) MD Brady’s US blog: Me, You and Books.

“I loved the vivid descriptions of the market and the ferries; the sights and scents of lush plant life; the mud, slush and sordid decay of the houses … the shadowy dangers that lurk in the cramped dark streets… Without idealising poverty, Ashmere depicts this Sydney as a place for the marginalised and eccentric.” LISA HILL (Top 10 Books 2016) ANZlitlovers

“Ashmere does for the underprivileged of 1920s Sydney what Ruth Park did for the 1950s in Harp in the South… both exude warmth and sympathy for their motley crew of marginalised characters, and both are valuable for their social history.” Whispering Gums.

“…a surprising love story, full of turns, transformations and ‘slips of the heart.’ A wise, tender and beautifully detailed novel.” GAIL JONES, author of The House of BreathingSorry, Five Bells, and The Death of Noah Glass.

“[A] compelling and lyrical novel of a rough-and-ready Sydney that is in the throes of rapid change; a town where the spiritual is necessary but corrupted,a and where sexual lives remain hidden even from those in the grip of desire.” SOPHIE CUNNINGHAM, author of Bird, and City of Trees.

“A charming and lyrical story of masculine ambition outwitted by feminine fruition. 1920s Sydney in all her raffish grandeur, flourishes on every page.” MANDY SAYER, author of Love in the Years of Lunacy, and Australian Gypsies.

“…a beautiful and quietly enthralling work… it skillfully renders the range and complexity of women’s lives.” JESSICA WHITE, author of A Curious Intimacy, and Hearing Maud.

The Floating Garden follows the fortunes of the unforgettable Ellis Gilbey, the highly-strung artist Rennie Howarth, the charismatic theosophist Miss Minerva Stranks, and the delicate Kitty Tate. A beautifully written debut novel. JESSE BLACKADDER, author of The Raven’s Heart, Chasing the Light, and Sixty Seconds.

“Emma Ashmere’s subtle, wry storytelling takes the reader inside 1920s Sydney… it is the story of those women who dared to want more than society offered them.”  SARAH ARMSTRONG, author of Salt Rain, His Other House, and Promise.

Hear an interview with KATE EVANS about Emma’s novel The Floating Garden on Radio National’s Books & Arts program. 

More reviews of The Floating Garden here.

the bookshelf jun 2019

Talking about books and the 2019 Commonwealth Short Story Prize on Radio National’s The Bookshelf with hosts Kate Evans and Cassie McCullough.

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Emma’s #8Wordstory flickered across three Brisbane inner city billboards in November 2017.


On the Fiction & Empathy panel at the inaugural Feminist Writers Festival 2016 with Penelope Russon and Merlinda Bobis.



 Copyright Emma Ashmere © 2015 ____________________________________________________________________