I recently chatted with bestselling author Judy Nunn about her new novel ‘Sanctuary’.

Judy has strong affiliations with Tasmania and might be deemed an ‘adopted’ Tasmanian with her husband author/actor Bruce Venable, a native Tasmanian. The couple frequently make family visits to the state.

Judy latest novel focuses on the very topical subject of asylum seekers and in doing gives us an example of art imitating life because, as Judy tells me, when writing her book about 9 asylum seekers coming ashore on an island in Western Australia. In 2015, a real boat of Sri Lankan asylum seekers did indeed come ashore on a Western Australian island. This event for Judy was validation that what she had written about was plausible.

There were slight variations in the non – fiction account and its similar fictionalised one. In Judy’s story the asylum seekers arrive at a deserted island abandoned at the time by its seasonal cray fishers.  The cray fishers have left an hospitable environment behind them to support the asylum seeker, in this way the little village in Judy’s words ‘is a microcosm of Australia and the world.’

Among the group are Doctor Rassen , his nurse wife, a young child Hamid, a student Massoud and a beautiful mystery woman, Jalila.

There is compassion shown for the plight of the asylum seekers, aided by the fact they are fully developed as people but Judy doesn’t push any political stance or ‘lecture’. The facts are presented to the reader to arrive at their own conclusion. The weighty issues of the groups plight is balanced with a love story developing between Jilila and Paul, one of the port residents, as a healing of the asylum seekers and their acceptance by members of the island population takes place.

Sanctuary is out now published by Penguin/Random House.

Judy is visiting Tasmania and can be seen:

  20 Nov An afternoon with Judy Nunn at Hobart LINC
  20 Nov An evening with Judy Nunn at Kingston LINC
  21 Nov An afternoon with Judy Nunn in Devonport
  21 Nov An evening with Judy Nunn in Launceston

Bookings can be made here: