Milkshake just whizzed around unfinished on my PC.
Inspiration had dried up. Motivation had stalled.
The story was never going anywhere.
Each time I sat in front of the screen it just stared back.
Then, on a dull winter's afternoon in July 2007, fate stepped in.
Riding home from work on my motorbike, the inattentive driver behind, staring out into the bay instead of at the road ahead, failed to see the slowing traffic. All I saw in my mirror was a car approaching much faster than I was travelling.
There was a bang and I remember seeing the sky.
The next thing I remember is lying on the hard road with people staring down at me asking me who the Prime Minister is. At that point I'd lived in New Zealand for 5 years. But I struggled to remember it was Helen Clarke, not Tony Blair.
I wiggled my toes. I could feel them. Then fingers. Sensation there also. No broken spine then. That didn't stop the cautious paramedics strapping me carefully onto the stretcher for the short ride to Nelson Hospital where they found a broken left wrist and mangled fingers on my right hand.
Six weeks off work.
Midwinter in New Zealand. Stunningly bright clear days and sharp still nights.
I rested my sore wrists on the keyboard and began typing, one finger at a time.
I sat there for four or five hours every day. The silence allowed my mind to wander. The creative juices finally flowed.
Suddenly the autobiographical travelogue became a story; a mysterious thriller. Nothing like I'd ever read before. Fifty pages were re-written, taking out 'me' and 'I' and putting in place someone else, who eventually became David Turner.
I watched the TV and scoured the internet for more inspiration.
I realised an isolated country such as New Zealand has stories of national importance that the rest of the world knows nothing about. Stuff goes on here that could have international significance. If anyone ever bothered to scratch the surface.
So what if something was going on?
What if the apparently innocuous stories on the nightly news were part of something bigger, something secret and hidden?
Many of the incidents and 'facts' in 'Milkshake' can be traced to actual events. Ones I have put my own slant on, to weave the story.
Milkshake is a fictional account of an attempt by the US Government to establish a herd of biofuel cattle in New Zealand. Sounds benign? It would be except the milk is poisonous to humans.
On the day I finished the first draft, and without any prior knowledge or notification, the following story appeared in the national press:- Click here to read it
Someone was already onto the concept. 'Milkshake' was suddenly no longer fictional.
Next time I'll tell you about more truth stretching and coincidence....