Irma (pronounced Ear-ma) is an award-winning author and editor. Her debut novel, The Breaking, won the NSW Writers Centre Varuna Fellowship and was awarded development grants by artsACT and CAPO. It was published by MidnightSun in March 2021 to wide critical acclaim. It won a Canberra Critics Circle Award and was shortlisted for the ACT Notable Award for Fiction.
Irma’s debut collection of short fiction, Two Steps Forward (Affirm Press), was selected from over 450 manuscripts to be published as the final in the Long Story Shorts series of six short fiction collections. Two Steps Forward was critically acclaimed and was shortlisted for or won a number of awards.
Her short fiction has also been widely published in journals, including Meanjin, Island, Westerly, Review of Australian Fiction and Going Down Swinging, and in anthologies, including the tenth anniversary edition of Award Winning Australian Stories and Australian Love Stories, edited by Cate Kennedy.
Irma is also the author of five picture books for children, most recently Where the Heart Is (EK Books), which was read on the Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson’s, Storytime channel and won the ACT Notable Award Children’s category, and Seree’s Story (Walker Books), released in April 2022. Irma is passionate about childhood literacy and is Ambassador for the ACT Chief Minister’s Reading Challenge.
As an editor Irma has worked both in-house and freelance. She currently works freelance for publishers big and small, and until recently was Convener of Editing at the University of Canberra for a decade. Irma has edited a wide range of fiction, nonfiction, YA and children’s books, and is the commissioning editor of a number of anthologies, including The Sound of Silence, winner of the ACT Writing and Publishing Awards for Nonfiction, and The Invisible Thread, an official publication of the National Year of Reading 2012 and the Centenary of Canberra 2013 which anthologises a century of literature by writers who have called Canberra home, and includes writers like Alex Miller, Kate Grenville, Marion Halligan, Roger McDonald, Omar Musa, Judith Wright and Les Murray.
Irma is Co-host of the writing podcast, Secrets from the Green Room, with Craig Cormick, featuring a range of authors, including Charlotte Wood, Sofie Laguna, Nikki Gemmell, James Bradley, and many others.
Irma’s mum taught her to read before she started school and she has been obsessed with books ever since. Her favourite memories are of snuggling up to her mum, dad or grandma (pictured) and listening to wonderful stories.
Irma spent her childhood living in a beautiful old Tudor house in south-east England just down the road from Roald Dahl (though she never managed to peer inside his yellow writing hut), grew up in the suburbs of Melbourne with five younger brothers, and in her early twenties returned to live in England where she spent all her pennies travelling Europe and Africa.
Since her first overseas trip at the age of 14, Irma has loved adventuring and connecting with people in different parts of the world. And she’s had some pretty wild adventures. In Tanzania she spent a night with lions prowling around her tent. In LA she narrowly escaped an exploding house fire. In Soweto she stayed in a house that was once used as a hideout by Mandela, Ma Winnie, Sisulu, Biko and other freedom fighters. In England on her way to Paris she spent a night locked in a detention centre for having the wrong passport. In Thailand she narrowly escaped stampeding elephants.
Irma is a mad keen ele lover and is Ambassador for Thailand’s Save Elephant Foundation. She has worked on projects with elephants rescued from the tourism and logging industries in Chiang Mai, Surin and Kanchanaburi.
Irma is also just a bit keen on beaches, good coffee, hiking, jumping castles and sunshiny days. She is not at all keen on extreme heights, spiders and zoos. She lives in Melbourne on Boonwurrung Country, never ceded, with her boys and a little black cat. To learn more, read Booktopia’s Ten Terrifying Questions with Irma Gold.