On Julie Innis’s “Sanctuary
by Beate Sigriddaughter and Michael Dickes

Sanctuary” is my number one favorite of many stories I have read so far on Fictionaut. It is a huge world in a tiny story. It is told with such stunning simplicity and impact that it still has me reeling days after I first read it. Setting, title, words all work together to create their own sanctuary, including the loneliness of sanctuary, and the dull pain of this loneliness, the aching betrayal of self when something close to the heart cannot even be expressed, because it will not be heard or validated, not with the respect and compassion and outrage it deserves.

There’s the beauty of the world and there’s senseless violence seeping through it, and the wish to ignore the violence cannot be granted, but leaves an unbearably lonely discomfort. Congratulations to Julie Innis for this wonderful piece of writing.

– Beate

I have found Fictionaut to be such an amazing community of writers that share and lend words of advice and encouragement to each other. I have only been a member for a short time, but I have already grown as a writer myself and been filled with so many great stories as a reader.

It would be difficult, at this point, to choose one favorite to expound on. With writers like Meg Pograss, Matt Dennison, Finnigan Flaunt, and others…I have been given so many wonderful stories to read. If I had to choose one now, though, it would be “Sanctuary” by Julie Innis.

Anyone can write a story. Everyone should. But, when a writer knows what words to use and in what order, a certain kind of magic happens. Rhythm, metaphors, assimilation and taking the time to pull the write word or phrase out of your toolbag: That’s what makes a story stick. Getting it to stick in a readers heart is what matters, whether it be with tears, laughter or a knife to the heart.

In “Sanctuary” Julie Innis uses these tools beautifully. I read a lot and it really takes a great line to stick to my insides. “Even snakes give back bones” offers not only a great bookend to “Sanctuary” but is simply the perfect example of a writer who knows what she’s doing.

“That such a horror could be swallowed whole so that the next day no mark remains on the cobblestone path or in the hollowed ground beneath the weeping willow? Instead she accepts the plate from her lover, his face a mass of irritation: “don’t act like this now.” Later she will try to explain her sadness at it all–that nothing remained–why, even snakes give back bones.”

– Michael

Fictionaut Faves, a series in which Fictionaut members recommend stories on the site, is edited by Marcelle Heath, a fiction writer, freelance editor, and assistant editor for Luna Park. She lives in Portland, Oregon.

  1. Susan Tepper

    Sanctuary is a delicately rendered story, the details of church and grounds given descriptively the way one might talk about fine architecture of the past. It is as if time for this couple has stopped dead-still, all the background noises of a city suspended, like the PLACE has taken in this horror unto itself, and is responsible, and hiding from its crime. A brilliant and unusual tale told with great economy. Julie, Brava!

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