Praise for Pieces of Silver
“The story develops at a cracking pace and the mix of
characters, historical and technical facts combine to provide a compelling read.”
Classic Car Weekly
“It’s an enjoyable page-turner ... Breslin’s enthusiasm for his story is genuinely engaging and you soon find yourself wanting to know what happens next to his colourfully drawn characters.”
For the Nazis conquering the race track was just the beginning
English racing driver Westbury Holt sees the Auto Union grand prix cars as nothing more than his chance to be the fastest. To him the Nazi involvement is just politics, nothing to do with sport and speed. But others see the access West has to superior German technology through his links with the racing team as an opportunity. He is soon drawn into a web of intrigue that is as dangerous and unpredictable as the 520bhp racing car he drives.
Sepp Nagel is a mechanic, and an idealistic young German who believes he is destined to be a great racing driver. He hates the Nazis, but the new Germany they have built gives him his chance to shine. It’s a chance he must take, whatever the cost. Meanwhile, his sister Hanna has her own battles to fight, her own sacrifices to make, and choices that are just as difficult as those that the men in her life face.
With the coming of World War II the boundary between right and wrong becomes blurred, and friends become enemies. But will West, now at the controls of an RAF Hurricane, find that the past is the most dangerous foe of them all?
From the race tracks and the record runs of pre-war Europe, to the bullet-laced skies of Crete and the frozen killing fields of Russia, Pieces of Silver is a 200mph journey through a world of speed, love, war and betrayal.
The story of a story
Here’s a joke: “So you’ve written a novel, what’s it about?”
“It’s a long story.”
Get it? Oh, never mind … The point is the story of this story is a long story; the story of a novel that took three months – or 13 years – to write. Let me explain.
It was back in the late ’70s at a Motor Show in the NEC that I first really became aware of the Silver Arrows. There was a stand on which a loop of video was being played. The film showed the highly spectacular action from the Donington Grand Prix of 1937, the sort of thing you can find in a click of a mouse on YouTube these days, but pretty special back then. It sparked an interest with this particular era of grand prix racing that has burned bright to this day.
I read up on it as much as I could and, always being more interested in people than machines, drivers rather than cars, I became fascinated with some of the characters involved: Rosemeyer, Varzi, Nuvolari, all of who lived lives that were terrific stories in themselves. But one of the greatest stories for me was, in a sense, an unfinished one.
This was Richard Seaman’s story. Seaman was an English driver who was killed in a Mercedes W154 at Spa just a few months before war was declared. I had always wondered what might have happened to him if he had lived, and always thought that particular ‘what if’ would make the basis for an interesting novel.
And so, in the autumn of 2001, I started Silver Arrow as it was then called. Within three months I had 170,000 words of it. My agent, Leslie Gardner at Artellus, persuaded me to cut it down, a heart-breaking business, and she started to present it to publishers soon after.
It was all pretty encouraging to begin with, and we came very close at the start. But while most seemed to like it, it never seemed to fit their ‘list’, and after a year or so I started to work on something else – I have quite a few other novels awaiting publication now. But every now and then I’d come back to it, and we’d get another bite from a publisher, then another disappointment.
It was still at 140,000 words, which received wisdom maintains is about 30,000 too long, and yet we had never had it rejected specifically for its size. Still, I was beginning to wonder if there was a way to cut it down. In the end I hit upon the idea of splitting the book in two, which was not too difficult at all, and it also gave me the leeway to add some more elements which improved the book from a commercial standpoint.
Yet I was never wholly comfortable with this split book, the whole ‘what if’ premise was lost in the first of the two novels, and so I started to look at a way of publishing the whole thing independently. The pieces fell into place quite quickly, and the more I looked into it the more it made sense, particularly as it gave me the freedom to write as many words as the story required – I’ve always preferred long novels, personally, and I’m just hoping I’m right about this and I’m not the only one who enjoys a good, long story! It’s actually 200,000 words now (two books back into one), as I’ve kept a lot of the more commercial stuff, which might not please some of the purists, but I hope there’s a happy balance and most can enjoy it.
Things have moved on a little more now, and we have a brand new publishing company involved, Pie Shop Publishing. They've put up the marketing money and they're aiming on using the title to test the market. It's a bit complicated at the moment, but things should be sorted in the coming weeks.
As I said, a long story then. Now let’s just hope there’s a happy ending.