Thursday, June 23, 2016

Interview with novelist Mark Morey

My special interview guest today is Mark Morey. We’re chatting about his historical fiction, The Last Great Race.

During his virtual book tour, Mark will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit his other tour stops and enter there, too.

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.

Welcome, Mark. Please share a little bit about your current release.
This is a fictionalised account of a real-life story that seems too incredible to be true, only it is. Achille Varzi was the most successful of his time; hero to his followers; worshipped by the women in his life; driven to succeed. This story is told partly through the eyes of Varzi and partly by fictional Italian-Australian journalist Paul Bassi. We follow the many triumphs and tragedies of Varzi's life: his passionate love affairs, his tragic addictions, his recovery, his marriage and his re-signing to race once more. Set in fascist Italy in the 1930s, we are part of the inexorable grind towards World War Two, where Italy is an ally of Germany, until the devastation becomes too much and the country slides towards civil war. Italy in World War Two and the civil war which followed is a story not well known, but is quite interesting.

What inspired you to write this book?
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 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 thought that passionate love, the tragedy that came out of it, and his recovery with the help of Norma who came back into his life, made a great story. 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. That was just as amazing as anything that happened between Achille and Ilse. One man and two women who adored him completely, totally and absolutely.

Excerpt from The Last Great Race:
Achille lit a cigarette and pulled Le Ambizioni Sbagliate from his luggage. He sighed while he momentarily contemplated nights in hotel rooms. It was always better when Norma accompanied him or when his friends were around. But racing had changed and the cost of developing new cars meant fewer entries, and fewer drivers at the circuits. He took the comfortable velvet armchair in the corner of the room and turned to the first page, when he was startled by knocking at the door. Achille put the book down and opened the door to be surprised by Ilse Pietsch. Momentarily startled he then realised she ought not to be seen there. “Ilse,” he said. “Entrez, s’il tu plais.”
“I saw your times from practice today,” Ilse said in French after she closed the door behind her. “They were good.”
Achille nodded while puzzled to have her in his room.
“That isn’t why I came here,” she said. “All the time you were practicing I thought about your comment on Tazio Nuvolari. I know that any driver can drive fast, and any driver can drive on his limits and perhaps crash and break his leg, or even kill himself. A great driver and an even greater man is the man who knows where his strengths and weaknesses lay, and how far he can go to achieve his ambitions without going too far.”
Achille stood stunned with his cigarette hanging from his lips. It was as if she peered into his soul. Just like that.
“Achille?” she asked.
“Pardon?” Achille said, still confused. He looked at her eye to eye for she was almost as tall as he. “You understand me,” he said quietly.
“So I’m right.”
“You knew you were right.”
“I wanted to hear it from you.”
“You’re a great man more than a great driver, and I know you have been misunderstood. I heard talk of arrogance but they don’t understand you. You’re a deep thinker who analyses all the options before deciding on a course of action.”
Achille was again startled. Ilse knew more, much more, about him than his racing. He wondered how she could do that, and especially a woman so young.
Their conversation faded to silence and Achille suddenly felt an intense ache of desire for beautiful Ilse Pietsch. A yearning, a longing, an almost overpowering urge to grab her and take her away and ravish her. He never felt such strong feelings before and he liked them. He liked them a lot. And yet she was unobtainable. Perhaps that was it. She understood him and yet he couldn’t have her. His heart raced and he felt sweaty despite the pleasant temperature. No, such feelings were something else and he guessed what it was. After two brief meetings he had fallen in love with another man’s wife. He didn’t love Norma and never had, but he never expected to find love in a hotel in Montlhéry. He butted his cigarette in the ashtray and all the time Ilse stood there, close but not too close, and Achille knew the significance of that. He wondered, but it was too far too fast. For many years he wanted to kiss those lips, but he knew if he started he wouldn’t be able to stop. He gazed at beautiful Ilse Pietsch, he smelt her soft perfume, and he knew he shouldn’t.
“You should go before people realise,” Achille said.
“Of course,” Ilse replied.
She left his room and quietly closed the door behind to leave Achille pondering whether he should have asked her to stay.

What exciting story are you working on next?
My next story stays in Italy but in renaissance Venice where, in the year 1428, a young woman created a major scandal that rocked Venetian society to the core. That story is intertwined with sub-plots based upon oppression of gay men and oppression of women. I have completed a first draft of The Adulterous Bride but I still have a way to go.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I considered myself a writer when Club Lighthouse published my novel The Red Sun Will Come in 2012.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I work part-time and this gives me sufficient time to write, and to undertake publicity tasks. Publicity is a very important part of writing. My working day depends on the project I am working on, but typically is two or three hours a day for three or four days per week.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
My quirk is to look for the unusual which has not been written about before, or to mix genres up by putting, for example, crime with romance. This gives me a unique voice, but it makes it harder to tell potential readers what these stories are really about.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I had a difficult upbringing where I was more intent on survival than on the future.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I hope those who like a good story will try The Last Great Race. The real-life characters and events are almost larger than life, although true to life, while the era, leading up to and spanning World War Two in Italy, is quite fascinating. I have not seen a story anything like this one, and I think it has much to offer to readers of fiction.

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Thank you for being a guest on my blog!

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Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

Unknown said...

Congrats on the Blog Tour; the novel looks great, and thanks for the chance to win :)

Mark Morey said...

Thank you for hosting this stop on my tour. I hope your visitors enjoy my story

Victoria Alexander said...

Really great excerpt, thanks for sharing!

Rita Wray said...

I liked the excerpt.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this giveaway with us.

James Robert said...

I'm running late today but still wanting to stop by to thank you for the chance to win

Ally Swanson said...

Congrats on the new book and good luck on the book tour!

Ally Swanson said...

Happy 4th of July! Hope you have a fantastic day! Looking forward to checking out this book!