Thursday, June 30, 2016

Virtual Book Tour + #Giveaway: The Last Great Race by Mark Morey @markmorey5 @GoddessFish

The Last Great Race
by Mark Morey
GENRE: Historical Fiction


This story is based around the life of one of the most fascinating and enigmatic sportsmen of his era, Achille Varzi: multiple race winner, twice Racing Champion of Italy and a hero to his many followers.  Told partly through the eyes of Varzi and partly by fictional Italian-Australian racing journalist Paul Bassi, we follow the many triumphs and tragedies of Varzi's life: his passionate love affair with Ilse, his tragic morphine addiction, his recovery from his addictions, his marriage to Norma and his re-signing to race for Alfa Romeo.

Only war intervenes, and Paul and his wife Pia leave Achille to spy for the British at the naval base in Naples.  Paul and Pia endure hundreds of Allied air-raids, they join the partisans who fought off the German army until the Allies could rescue them, and then they survive in a near-ruined city as best they can.

By 1946 Italy is still shattered but life is returning to normal, and no more normal is Achille Varzi winning the Grand Prix of Italy that year.  Over the next two seasons Achille Varzi scores more successes, until he makes his only ever driving mistake and is killed in Switzerland in 1948.  Even though he died too young, Paul and Pia know that Achille Varzi would never have lived in his life in any other way.


The porter nodded slowly.  “My name is Ludwig Broder and I was a journalist once.”

“What happened?”

“It’s the way of things.”

Paul wondered the way of what things, until he realised.  He looked around and nobody was close.  “Persecution?” Paul asked quietly.

Herr Broder nodded slowly.

“I’m sorry to hear about your misfortune, Herr Broder.”

“It was only a newspaper in Koblenz, but....”

Paul was sure that persecution would get worse.  “Should you leave?” Paul asked quietly.

“To where?  My family has lived in this region for more than four generations.”

“If you leave, one day you can come back when it’s better.”  Paul thought about options.  “You speak good English.  Go now, while you can.”

Herr Broder demurred.

“I was born and raised in Australia and I moved to Italy two years ago,” Paul said.  “Because I spoke Italian, Italy became my home.”

“Where are you staying Herr Bassi?”

“Hotel Ringhaus.  We can take our luggage; it’s not far.”

Her Broder nodded and Paul opened his wallet and took out a twenty mark note.  “Thank you for your trouble, Herr Broder.”

“Thank you,” Herr Broder said before placing the note in his pocket.

Paul picked up his case and bag and Pia, looking baffled, grabbed hers.

“One day it may be too late,” Paul said.  “Goodbye and good luck.”

“Enjoy your racing Herr Bassi.”

Paul headed towards the hotel with Pia alongside.

“Che cosa?” Pia asked.

“He’s Jewish,” Paul said in Italian.  “I told him to leave now, while he can.”

“People shouldn’t have to leave their country just because they’re Jewish.”

“If you were Jewish; what would you do?”

“I would leave.”

“He used to work for a newspaper, but as you know....”

“No public servants, no teachers, no writers, no academics, no journalists.”

“I’m sure it will get worse.”

Pia shrugged her shoulders and Paul wondered how much worse it could get.  But he was sure it would get worse.

Author Interview:

What inspired you to write The Last Great Race?

I have followed Formula One car racing since the early 1970s, and through that I was aware of the story of Achille Varzi, a good racing driver of the 1930s, until his private life got in the way of his racing career.  When I looked into the facts about Varzi I didn't realise that he was the best racer in a legendary era, certainly one of the best of all time, and that his love affair with Ilse was so passionate and ultimately so destructive.  I had a great story of passionate love, the tragedy that came out of it, and his recovery with the help of Norma.  Norma Colombo was a woman against the odds.  She lived with Achille Varzi unmarried when women didn't do that, and when Achille broke up with Ilse she came back to him.  One man and two women who adored him completely, totally and absolutely.

I had a story which in parts seemed too unbelievable to be true, but was true, and characters who seem larger than life but who really were like that.

When or at what age did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I have always liked reading good books, and one day about 10 years ago I went to the local library to borrow a book, but I couldn't find one. Particularly the books by male authors had stereotyped, cliche characters, the loner who eventually rights all wrongs but never finds love or companionship.  I thought I could do better than that, which became the inspiration for my first novel, The Red Sun Will Come.  I liked the characters in that story so I wrote a sequel Souls In Darkness, and by then I was thinking of my next story to tell.

What is the earliest age you remember reading your first book?

I can't remember exactly but it would have been pre-teen.

What genre of books do you enjoy reading?

I read all genres except fantasy or romance.

What is your favorite book?

I have several novels I have enjoyed very much but I don't have a particular favourite.

You know I think we all have a favorite author. Who is your favorite author and why?

My favourite author is Paulo Coelho who has a unique voice when telling stories, who's characters are always interesting, and who tackles themes not commonly used for fiction.

If you could travel back in time here on earth to any place or time. Where would you go and why?

I would stay where I am, born as I was in the late 1950s.  In my lifetime our society has made much progress on addressing inequality in particular, and I can't think of any other time which is so free and so egalitarian.  We have our problems like any time has had its problems, but I sense the mood is there to tackle these problems.

When writing a book do you find that writing comes easy for you or is it a difficult task?

Writing always comes easy for me, however like all authors I do get blocked from time to time. I take a long walk and by the time I get home I always have the answer.

Do you have any little fuzzy friends? Like a dog or a cat? Or any pets?

No pets, but I have two adult children, one who is still living at home with us

What is your "to die for" favorite food/foods to eat?

I am diabetic so I have to watch what I eat.  My favourite food is Italian, except pizza which we have destroyed.  But anything else Italian I like.

Do you have any advice for anyone that would like to be an author?

If you think you have a story to tell, then firstly you must read many novels by many different authors to get a feel for how stories should be told.  Once you do that then write the best story you think you can tell, and then get it professional to do a developmental edit.  Friends, family members and other authors can only go so far, while a professional will evaluate plot, characters, pacing, grammar, use of language and many other aspects.  This does cost but by then you will have a story worth selling and publicising.

One thing which works well is to make your writing as active-voiced as possible.  Many will write 'he was walking' where 'he walked' is much better, or 'he had been waiting' where 'he waited' is also better.  Cut out all those extraneous, small words and your writing will flow, and while readers won't exactly pick what it is, they will tell you that your story is easy to read.  They will read several pages in no time and be surprised by that.


Writing technical documentation and advertising material formed a large part of my career for many decades.  Writing a novel didn’t cross my mind until relatively recently, where the combination of too many years writing dry, technical documents and a visit to the local library where I couldn’t find a book that interested me led me consider a new pastime. Write a book. That book may never be published, but I felt my follow-up cross-cultural crime with romance hybrid set in Russia had more potential. So much so that I wrote a sequel that took those characters on a journey to a very dark place.

Once those books were published by Club Lighthouse and garnered good reviews I wrote in a very different place and time.  My two novels set in Victorian Britain were published by Wings ePress in July and August of 2014. These have been followed by a story set against the background of Australia's involvement on the Western Front, published in August 2015. Australia's contribution to the battles on the Western Front and to ultimate victory is a story not well known, but should be better known.

Staying within the realm of historical fiction, one of the most successful sportsmen of the 1930s, Achille Varzi, lived a dramatic and tumultuous life.  It is a wonder his story hasn't been told before, beyond non fiction written in Italian.  The Last Great Race follows the highs and lows of Varzi's motor racing career, and stays in fascist Italy during the dark days of World War Two.


$10 Amazon or B/N GC

Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning.


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

Unknown said...

I enjoyed the interview and it looks like a good read :)

Mai T. said...

What’s the most romantic thing you’ve ever seen/experienced?

MomJane said...

I can hardly wait to read this story. I loved the excerpt.

Rita Wray said...

I like the blurb.

Victoria Alexander said...

Sounds like a great book - thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Which writers inspire you?

Mark Morey said...

Thank you for hosting this stop on my tour and I hope your visitors like my book.

Mary Preston said...

An interesting bio too.

Mai T. said...

How did you come up with the title?

Mark Morey said...

The Title is from the epitaph read at his funeral.