As if 2020 wasn't thrilling enough for Judith Collins - who published her memoir, was forced to become leader of a beleaguered National Party and fight a general election during a pandemic - she spent her summer holidays working on her own thriller, a novel.
"It is very, very early stages," she told the Herald.
"The hard work on these things is getting your characters right and getting a general plot, and then letting it go from there, according to the experts.
"I'm still working on the characters. You might recognise the odd one, once it actually gets properly written and then published."
Collins spent the weekend in Opotiki on a farmlet, and also had a break in Queenstown, helping out the local economy, and taking long walks before turning her mind to the political year, which begins on Tuesday.
She has been putting the final touches to a state-of-the-nation speech in Auckland on Tuesday and planning the first caucus in Whangarei next week.
The Government response to Covid-19, the economy and housing were major issues but also what she called "public safety", or law and order.
Can take the girl out of the country but never the country out of the girl. pic.twitter.com/SNI0rjwsgH— Judith Collins (@JudithCollinsMP) January 23, 2021
"The rise of the gangs, Waikeria prison being taken over, these sorts of things are major issues and they haven't been at the forefront of people's minds for the past few years," she said.
"But it is very clear from what we are hearing from out in our electorates and elsewhere that people are noticing a continuing and increasing presence of gangs who are coming into areas we haven't seen before."
She said National would not spend its time in Opposition simply picking holes in the Government – although that would happen – but she wanted it to create a narrative and put up proposals well before the next election.
"One of the hard things we found during the election, apart from Covid and the disunity, was the fact it was very hard to sell good ideas to people when they are in the middle of an election campaign.
"You have got to do the work beforehand, which is what we will be focused on."
Collins is intent on running the caucus in what she describes as a professional way, similar to the way former Prime Minister Sir John Key did - which involved a more corporate style.
She had interviews with all caucus members about portfolios before her post-election reshuffle and then sent them letters of expectation.
She said that at the end of January, the MPs would come back to her and deputy leader Shane Reti with their views of how they were going to run their portfolios, what they believed the issues would be, where they might need help and where they could offer help.
"So basically, it is treating this very much like a profession and a professional job."
The first caucus of the year will be a two-day retreat in Whangarei, after which many of the MPs would go to Waitangi.
"We'll have discussions about how we can operate better but we will also be looking at what's happening in the world, and seeing what trends are coming through. I think that's really important for us.
"This is a time for rebuilding as I see it, but also for making sure that not only new MPs, but our MPs from previous years all understand what the job is and how to do it."
So will National be cautious in how it responds to the Covid-19 pandemic, given that Labour won an outright majority at the election in October largely on the basis of approval of its handling of it?
"We are always very careful on that - well, I am," she said.
"Clearly part of the Covid response is the lack of roll-out or even getting in vaccines for our frontline staff. We are not that cautious on that one. But we are not going to be opposing measures that protect New Zealanders."
Collins has posted the odd Tweet or made the occasional press statement during the break, including National withdrawing its support for Kiwi and Donald Trump's deputy chief of staff Chris Liddell to head the OECD after the insurrection at the Capitol.
But she has not been glued to the television and did not watch the inauguration of President Joe Biden.
"American politics has been amusing, fascinating and sometimes appalling in the last little while and watching an inauguration is not exactly what I want to do with my time - I was probably working on my state of the nation speech," she added.
National's sister party, the Republicans, were going to have a very challenging time working out how to deal with the post-Trump era "if it actually is a post-Trump era yet".
For National, the Collins era is only six months old, and this is the first chance she has had to lead the party without an immediate focus on a leadership crisis or the election - in which National polled 25.6 per cent, down from 44.4 per cent in 2017.
"I'm really looking forward to working with our MPs basically to do the same sort of thing that John Key used to do for us, which is to basically give us direction and help us to find the right way through and then just tell us to get on with the job."