Wednesday, July 13, 2016

VBT: The Last Great Race by Mark Morey

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.


Excerpt One:

“Achille crashed,” she said and drank some more.  “I have never seen anything like it.  He was the only driver taking the banked curve at the end of the straight flat-out.  Each lap I heard the exhaust note of his car never wavering as he took that curve with his typical, stylish precision.  And then on lap fourteen a sudden gust of wind came in from the desert, blowing dust and debris.  I held my hat and glanced at the Englishman nearby, just as the wind caught the front of Achille's car and lifted the front wheels from the track.  The car rose higher and higher like an aeroplane, flying away from the track until the rear of the car hit the ground and then the front, and it rolled over and over with the most terrible noise.  Over and over until it stopped on its wheels in the middle of an orchard.  There were Arab men dressed in robes and they ran to the car.  I was on the wrong side of the circuit and checked that nobody was coming before I ran to it as well, and so did the Englishman.”  She drank more water.  “I thought he must be dead, nobody could survive a crash like that, but he climbed out of the wrecked car and brushed dirt from his overalls.  He looked around and saw me but I don’t think it registered.”

“Is he alright?” Paul asked, worried.

“He’s fine although shaken.  He didn’t even light a cigarette, and then he fainted. The Englishman Raymond Mays helped him, and he drove us back here.”

Paul contemplated what he heard, and that would have been a terrible thing to see.

“I have never seen anything like it,” Pia repeated and Paul hoped that Achille really was alright.  If he was taking that curve flat-out he must have been doing about 300.


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

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.

Mark Morey


Interview with Mark Morey

1. As a kid did you write or make up stories?
I began writing about 10 years ago.

2. Where does most of your character inspiration come from?
Character inspirations come from many sources, including family members and friends, people I have worked with and other acquaintances. I always do character biographies so I have character appearances, quirks and back-stories clear. That way I can use any set of personality characteristics and make the character consistent.

At the moment I am working on a story set in Medieval Venice where one of the main characters is quite unlike anyone I have ever known, but she fits in well with the story.

3. Do some qualities of your characters come from real people?
Some qualities come from real people and some don't; it depends on the story I'm telling. I find the more I write, the more unique my characters have become.

4. What was the inspiration for your book?
The Last Great Race is based upon real evens. Achille Varzi was a sporting champion who had an affair with a team mate's wife, and then got addicted to morphine which ended his career for a time. He recovered with the help of his family and with the help of his former lover, and eventually went was able to resume his career. It's an interesting story of obsessive and destructive love, recovery and renewal.

5. What is your favorite spot to write?
I usually write in the study which is warm in winter, cool in summer, and has a nice outlook across hills several kilometres away.

6. What advice would you give budding writers?

The best advice is to keep at your writing until you get 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 the end result will be worth it.



Mark Morey will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.


  1. Thank you for offering us this giveaway, have an enjoyable Wednesday!

  2. If you could visit any country that you haven't been to, where would it be?

    1. I have been to so many places but one part of the world I would like to see is South America.

  3. Great interview, your writing spot sounds very relaxing and the perfect place to write an amazing book! :)

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

  5. Congrats on the tour, and I enjoyed the interview.