Author shotEmma Ashmere was born in Adelaide, South Australia. 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.

Emma’s short story collection DREAMS THEY FORGOT will be published by Wakefield Press in June 2020 – and is on the Sydney Morning Herald’s Books to Read in 2020 and Readings Books to Get Excited About.

Her first novel The Floating Garden was shortlisted for the 2016 Small Press Network MUBA prize.

Emma Ashmere The Floating Garden Cover

Emma 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 and 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.

Hear an interview with Kate Evans about her debut novel The Floating Garden on Radio National’s Books & Arts program. 


“…a beautiful meditation on grief, guilt, and regret, set against the backdrop of Milsons Point, Sydney, 1926.” Judges’ report 2016 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.” The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. Read the full review here.

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

“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 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.

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 ____________________________________________________________________