Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

What is your moral compass? - No Fury Like That by Lisa de Nikolits

"No Fury Like That is a fun read that sneaks up on you with surprising moments of profound insight and tender emotion. [...] The witty dialogue and quirky humor are offset by the serious undertone questioning life, death, our relationships, and what it all means. This is definitely one of those stories that will stick with me for a long time." Darcia, Goodreads


Published: September 2017

No Fury Like That is a one-of-a kind suspense thriller about life and death – and the power of second chances.

The novel takes you on a fast-paced, funny, adventurous ride, exploring themes of love, friendship, revenge and family – and the transformation of character in impossible circumstances. No Fury Like That is about metamorphosis, and how friendship is more important than success, love is more important than money and family is more important than power.

What is your moral compass? Julia Redner has to die in order to find her answer to this question – but is she really dead or is she being given the opportunity to rethink her life while solving an intricate puzzle of murders? And she won’t miss the opportunity to exact righteous revenge!

No Fury Like That is a philosophical murder mystery with an unforgettable cast of characters, a surprising plot with twists and turns and a powerful, determined female protagonist. The novel will make you laugh and it will make you think but most of all, it will engage you from the get-go.

Adjusting Our Moral Compass 

I’ve always thought that power is the most accurate test of a person’s moral compass. How a person acts towards others when they hold the reins of power is an accurate reflection of that person’s most baseline moral set-point. And this moral set-point can come from a number of things: their upbringing, their environment and how they responded to hurt and loss as a child. Not, you might notice, genetics. I believe that things like a temper can be inherited, but not morality. Although, that said, people who grow up in morally dubious households with questionable ethics can feel uncomfortable in those situations and not understand why, but they do seek to change things – or at the very least, they opt for non-participation when they are called upon to behave in ways that go against the grain of what they feel, at a gut level, to be ‘right’. Right and wrong, in the end, come down to a very simple law, Do Under Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You (I think so anyway!) 

If we all behaved in this way, wouldn’t things be a lot nicer in the world? And the primary impediment to this tenet being realized, is power. 

Power can be like crack cocaine (not that I’ve ever tried it and I certainly don’t want to!) but I’ve seen people caught up in the swift current of their own glory and before you know it, they are full blown Jekylls to their former Hydes (and vice versa). 

But the thing that astounds me the most is how, once toppled, they are humbled and they behave as if their glory days of war never existed! Where they once glanced over you, through you and around you, you suddenly become a person to them, someone who can make a difference to their lives – the balance of power has shifted – if they need you, then the fulcrum swings around. 

I can hear readers objecting, “but wait, not everybody’s like that!” and you’re right, they’re not. There are gems out there, people who stay true to their moral compasses and steer a clear passage through life and they are good, caring, kind people. 

They are not villains. The villains, well, there’s another story! And now I’d like to change my mind a bit to say this – I don’t believe that people are born with bad genetics but I do believe there are bad seeds out there, people who, frm the time they were kids, have had this said of him or her: “I always knew he’d turn out to be a rotten apple,” or “she was a nasty piece of work to begin with.”

Is a second chance possible in life? Let’s take Julia Redner, the protagonist in No Fury Like That. I was so afraid readers would revile her, despise her and not feel a glimmer of compassion towards her. And yes, she has been described by reviewers as being ‘loveable’. Knock me down with a feather! Perhaps it’s because the swerve in her moral compass was due to the fact that she had been badly hurt as a child and she reacted as she did to protect herself. But that doesn’t explain how she enjoyed being so rude to those around her, she enjoyed being a bully and that, I fear, is the most frightening and loathsome characteristic of human nature. That, given the opportunity to be cruel, we will be cruel. Countless laboratory experiments have proven this, unfortunately. 

So, perhaps one gets caught up in a bad situation, a toxic situation and one behaves in a cruel way towards others. Then that power is taken away and you feel remorse, even sorrow for what you have done. Or perhaps you are just remorseful that your lovely power has been taken away from you and you realize that you had better toe the line of appearing to be appropriately apologetic or you will be ousted from the societal embrace. In which case, it comes down to actions, does it not? 

I’ve never set much store by apologies. Sure, they are a good start but the deeds that follow, those are what count. It’s an old adage, actions speak louder than words and it’s true. Sticks and Stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me – and in the same way that sticks and stones do wreck physical damage and leave emotional scars, apologies won’t heal in the same way that a splint and sound medical care will. Apologies are necessary and they are the first balm in the process but then, what happens next? 

I’ve always believed that often times we cannot (seem) to control what we feel or what we think but we can take responsibility for our actions, both past and present. And accepting responsibility for past actions doesn’t mean saying sorry and sweeping them under the rug of yesteryear, but trying to actively make amends. 

And that’s what I tried to show with Julia. When she was in power, she was just awful. But then she got knocked off her perch and she had the choice – she could remain angry and aggressive or she could try to understand herself more clearly when she was ready to move forward with her life. 

Not that she became a milksop – she exacted vengeance in a very clearheaded and methodical way but she did have reactions to her actions. She wasn’t impervious to fear and that’s what made her brave. And perhaps, in the end, that’s the truest test of a person’s moral compass – how they will act when they are most afraid. Also, bravery is when you do something or stand up for something when you’ve got a lot to lose. I often wonder what I would do and I’d like to say I’d be honourable but I don’t think it’s a question we can answer until we’ve been tried. 

And in the meantime, we live vicariously through the flawed and fabulous heroes and heroines that leap off the pages of books and into our hearts. We cheer them on, we weep for them, we despise them for their weaknesses and we applaud their strengths. Perhaps relating to the moral compass of fictional characters is what we love most about reading. That, and the adventure!

Thank you very much for having me as a guest author on your blog today!

About the author:
Originally from South Africa, Lisa de Nikolits has lived in Canada since 2000. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Philosophy and has lived in the U.S.A., Australia and Britain. Lisa lives and writes in Toronto. No Fury Like That, her most recently published work, is her seventh novel and has received glowing preview reviews from internationally acclaimed authors, Metroland Media, and high-profile members of the Crime Writers of Canada. Lisa’s previous works include: The Hungry Mirror (2011 IPPY Awards Gold Medal for Women’s Issues Fiction and long-listed for a ReLit Award); West of Wawa (2012 IPPY Silver Medal Winner for Popular Fiction and a Chatelaine Editor’s Pick); A Glittering Chaos (tied to win the 2014 Silver IPPY for Popular Fiction); The Witchdoctor’s Boneslaunched in Spring 2014 to literary acclaim. Between The Cracks She Fell was reviewed by the Quill & Quire, was on the recommended reading lists for Open Book Toronto and 49th Shelf. Between The Cracks She Fell was also reviewed by Canadian Living magazine and called ‘a must-read book of 2015’. Between The Cracks She Fell won a Bronze IPPY Award 2016 for Contemporary Fiction. The Nearly Girl received rave reviews in THIS magazine and local newspaper, the Beach Metro, among others. No Fury Like That is her seventh book and Rotten Peaches will be published in 2018. All books by Inanna Publications.

Lisa has a short story in Postscripts To Darkness, Volume 6, 2015, and flash fiction and a short story in the debut issue of Maud.Lin House as well as poetry in the Canadian Women Studies Journal (Remembering, 2013, and Water, 2015). Her short stories have also appeared on Lynn Crosbie’s site, Hood and in the Jellyfish Review. She has a short story in the anthology PAC’HEAT, a Ms. Pac-Man noir collection and a short story in the Sisters In Crime anthology, The Whole She-Bang 3 and she will have two short stories in 13 Claws, the Mesdames of Mayhem anthology which will be published in August 2017.
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