How did you come up with the idea for Milkshake?

 The idea for Milkshake stemmed from having moved from the UK to New Zealand in 2002. I was immediately taken with the strange familiarity that many Poms feel when arriving here. It feels vaguely like Britain, but in some strange alternate universe.  I loved the scenery, pace of life and the ease with which art, in all its forms is accepted and encouraged.

 

At first it started writing a first-person travelogue; basically a diary of emigrating. But after a while I was struck by New Zealand’s comparative isolation from the rest of the world. How we get our information about the rest of the world, and how they perceive NZ was, I thought, filtered, particularly by the TV and radio. Not censored; just a bit diluted. So then I began wondering the ‘what-ifs?’ –  what if something was going on, perhaps on a large scale, which was completely off the radar of both the media and the public? The story grew from there and I quickly changed the ‘first person’ idea and started adding characters instead. A motorbike accident in 2008 enforced an extended break from work, which allowed me the time to finish the basic draft; with a broken wrist and fingers it was slow going!

Did you have to do some research for all the US legislature information?

There is an awful lot of research in ‘Milkshake’. I hate stuff in books which presumes a reader’s lack of intellect, so I made all the factual stuff verifiable,( if you bother to look hard enough.)

 

  The basic science of turning milk into ethanol is accurate. The Star Wars and Star Trek references are true. The meeting where the dairy company is formed in Washington really did happen (although not as in the book obviously). Kiwis will know the incident on Waiheke Island around Foot & Mouth disease also actually occurred. In fact the press release in the story is the exact one used at the time and I had to get NZ Government permission to reproduce it in the book. The premiere of Lord of The Rings really did occur only a few weeks after 9/11, and again I’ve used this to add authenticity to the ‘conspiracy theory’ aspect of the book. I also made sure small things like all the flight times and flight numbers are accurate.
Milkshake takes us on a whirlwind ride of NZ, had you seen the places that you wrote about before you included them in your story?

Living in Nelson, the latter half of the book is based on familiar ground, and fellow Nelsonians will recognise certain landmarks. The North Island stuff was more from memory, so those places are more an amalgamation than accurate description. I’ve never been to Waiheke Island, but I’m hoping 95% of the readers have also never visited there!

Did you have an idea for Destiny Stone while you were writing Milkshake, or did that come to you once you had finished?

As far as a series, I tried to shy away from the predictable ‘trilogy’ concept. But ‘Milkshake’ is essentially an unfinished story, and I left it wide open at the end for a sequel. The premise for the sequel came to me a lot quicker then ‘Milkshake’ and, unlike ‘Milkshake’, the title, ‘The Destiny Stone’ came to me very early on.  So ‘The Destiny Stone’, despite going off at a completely unexpected tangent, is essentially ‘Milkshake Pt 2’. There are new characters and the plot straddles eight centuries and tackles a far bigger story than the first instalment. I had a lot of fun with ‘The Destiny Stone’ which, like ‘Milkshake’ takes place (mostly) in a very short time span and encompasses real events and real people. There is a lot more research and historical accuracy in this second book, as it involves quite a few recognisable historical characters. ‘The Destiny Stone is currently being edited in America and hopefully should be available around Easter 2013.

 

 Unfortunately, ‘The Destiny Stone’ didn’t put the story to bed. There are still loose ends and unresolved issues, so I’m in the very early stages of the (reluctant) third part of the trilogy. Luckily I’ve given myself enough characters to play with, and I have the basic concept which, if it works, is even bigger than the first 2 stories.

 

Is there anymore in the Milkshake series?

 

Unfortunately, ‘The Destiny Stone’ didn’t put the story to bed. There are still loose ends and unresolved issues, so I’m in the very early stages of the (reluctant) third part of the trilogy. Luckily I’ve given myself enough characters to play with, and I have the basic concept which, if it works, is even bigger than the first 2 stories.

 

 When you aren’t writing, what do you do?

 When not writing, as an amateur author, I spend a lot of time on the internet (Facebook, Twitter etc) interacting with other writers and promoting my books. Milkshake has enjoyed steady sales on Amazon and I get a kick out of knowing thousands of people around the world have read something I’ve worked on.

 

 If you had the opportunity, would you write fulltime?

 I’m not sure I could ever write full-time. I spend an awfully long time thinking and doing background research. ‘Milkshake’ took nearly eight years from concept to publication. ‘The Destiny Stone’ about two years. I don’t think I could write to order, and I have no ideas after this third instalment. I like contributing to blogs and forums, and might have a stab at doing a screen play for ‘Milkshake’ as a lot of readers have described my style as ‘cinematic’. which I agree with.

 

If money were no object, what would you do?

So, I guess if money were no object, I’d write the screen play, and commission  the TV series for ‘Milkshake/The Destiny Stone’ (They would work better on TV than as a movie), so I could showcase New Zealand as it is ‘now’, not as some fictional ‘middle earth’ geological mash-up, which most of the world sees at the movies.
NZ Book Month – An Interview with Matt Hammond
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One thought on “NZ Book Month – An Interview with Matt Hammond

  • March 5, 2013 at 8:16 am
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    Interesting interview with the author of one of my favorite novels of the past few years. I’m looking forward to reading “Destiny Stone” and the 3rd part of this fascinating story.

    Reply

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