This week we talk to Emma Ashmere about ‘The Historic Present’ which appears in Time, the latest Microlit anthology edited by Cassandra Atherton and published in 2018 by Spineless Wonders. In this interview, Emma  talks about her approach to writing microlit, what she is reading right now and her favourite time of year for putting pen to paper.

  1. Tell us about the inspiration behind your microlit for the Time

The Historic Present draws on time spent in the State Library of Victoria’s Reading Room leafing through boxes of old letters, diaries, and newspapers. These scraps of people’s lives offered tantalising – and sometimes haunting – glimpses of a world that’s not quite gone.

  1. When it comes to microlit, do you generally start wide and then cut down or do you always plan to write a particular piece as microlit?

Sometimes I’ll rework an existing short story. Other times I’ll start with an idea, a word, title, image, or format, and see where it leads. Either way, there’s always plenty of rewriting and editing.

  1. How do you balance reading time with writing time? And tell us about the book/s you are reading at the moment.

I read often, and write whenever possible. If I’m stuck with my writing, I fill up on books (fiction, non-fiction, poetry, short stories) that push the boundaries of structure, genre, and content. If they’re borrowed from the library, the due date motors them up the pile.

Lately I’ve been dipping into Joy Williams’ witty and tragic microlit collection Ninety-nine Stories of God; Ali Smith’s ode to vanishing library services Public Library; Ellen van Neerven’s beautiful poetry collection Comfort Food; and am now immersed in Nicole Krauss’ time- and place-stretching novel The Forest Dark.

  1. What is your favourite season? Do you prefer to write in winter or summer and why?

Winter. Less heat = more writing.

EMMA ASHMERE’s short stories have appeared in The Age, Griffith Review, NGV Magazine, Australian Review of Fiction, and Landmarks (Spineless Wonders, 2107). Her debut novel The Floating Garden (Spinifex Press, 2016) was shortlisted for the 2016 Most Underrated Book Award.

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