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The Midnight Man — Van Gogh, Ghosts, Murder and Madness. A Fusion of Fact and Fiction


Severn House cover 2008

I’ve looked forward to this moment for the last five years. Today, I’d like to make an announcement that means a great deal to me. The novel I’ve been working on, which features that troubled, cursed and blessed genius Vincent Van Gogh, has now been launched.

The Midnight Man is published by Severn House in hardback; it’s released in the UK in April and the U.S. in July. It should be available in the rest of world by the late Spring.

When I came across Van Gogh’s work and life-story as a teenager it was one of those revelatory moments. I’ve been a fan ever since. His visionary power and ability to be just so astounding in what he did was an inspiration. Van Gogh became a kind of magic touchstone for the way I wrote.

As well as The Midnight Man drawing on a crucial part of Van Gogh’s life and imagining the circumstances that led to the shattering breakdown in late 1888, I wanted to evoke what was, I believe, one of the most important eras in our history.

1880-90 is the decade that bore witness to the birth of the modern world. A profound change was in the air. It wasn’t a decade of global wars or major political revolutions, this was the revolution of the human mind. All of a sudden, people saw the world differently. Popular newspapers of that time start being written in the style of the modern press. They aren’t stilted or old fashioned. Photography became part and parcel of everyday lives. Baird was born in 1888, the inventor of the first mechanical TV system. Daimler and Benz’s motor cars were appearing on the roads. Family life became a lot like ours, working 9-5, school for the kids, then the commute to a suburban home.

In 1888, Van Gogh lived in Arles in the famously yellow house. Like a satellite dish he appeared to be picking up this emotional and intellectual evolution in human beings. Through that alchemy, which art possesses, he expressed this transformation in life-style and ‘mind-style’ into paintings of such visionary power that they enchant millions today. But it’s more than brilliant sunflowers and incandescent portraits, we still sense there is a code within the pictures that speaks to us. Of course, his passion to capture the new spirit that electrified the Western World was too much for him. That’s where the biography of Van Gogh is transmuted into legend.

So, these two elements have fascinated me for years: the story of Van Gogh in 1888, and the story of humanity’s transformation during possibly the most important decade in history. Now that, truly, is a story that MUST be told. With Van Gogh’s work to inspire me I’ve set out to attempt just that. The Midnight Man is, for me, one of the most personally satisfying novels I’ve ever written. I must add that I wrote about the artist with love and complete and utter respect. I trust I’ve done this great man, who saw the world’s transformation before anyone else did, justice.

By the way, I’ve launched a ‘making of’ blog that features background information to the novel. It also serves as a gateway to web films about the artist and to a virtual tour of the Yellow House in Arles. Here’s the blog link

The Midnight ManISBN: 9780727866370

The book’s description: 1888. The Yellow House, Arles: Vincent van Gogh paints works of transcendent genius, while in London a killer launches a reign of terror. Nidabi is attacked by her sadistic master but is rescued just in time by saintly Pastor Hux, a man who befriended Van Gogh many years ago. On a mission to help those most in need Hux is relentless in his attempts to save the souls of those he rescues. In Arles, Van Gogh is helped by prostitute Ty and they quickly form a special relationship. Both are outsiders and she struggles to protect the artist as his passion to create threatens to shatter his mind. But why are these two men haunted by the spectre of failure? How can loyalty endure in the face of evil? Soon a deadly momentum will draw two old friends back together – into a withering storm painted in madness, fear and death.

Late Breaking News: Simon will be the toastmaster at the World Horror Convention 2008 in Salt Lake City, 27-30 March.

That’s all for this time. Thanks for your patience in reading this longer than usual message. You can tell this book has a big, BIG place in my heart. Take care.