Article/page published: 09 January 2017
Last updated: 14 January 2017
The midnight man goes riding on his midnight horse, and all the black shadow cats slink around his midnight quiet hooves.
The Midnight Man rides around the world with his sack of stars, and one night Harry and Mister Dog wake up and see him. They want to go with him.
The idea for the story began with music. The internationally famous string quartet, The Lindsays, wanted to do a concert for children, and they asked me if I would write a story around the sort of music that they play. I listened to a piece of music by a composer called Debussy, Quartet in G minor, and at once pictures starting coming into my mind – I could see somebody running, searching for something, I could hear a refrain that made me think of the words midnight man, and I could hear another refrain like a dog barking softly. As I was listening to the music I was writing all this down, and then I drew a line under the words Midnight Man and started to write the story-poem.
The Lindsays performed the piece at their Christmas concert, and then, because the pictures in my head were so strong, I wondered if it might make the text for a picture book. I sent it to Walker Books and they said yes straight away. Very soon they sent me Ian Andrew's wonderful ideas for the artwork and I knew that he and their designer were going to make a beautifully atmospheric book of it. For the first time, I knew what the midnight man would look like!
Later, my composer daughter Sally set it to music for her musicians the Sumacs, and we have performed it together at many festivals and conferences. The arrangement was for spoken voice, singing voice, flute, clarinet, cello and harp. She was asked to write an arrangement of it specially for the Lindsays to perform (two violins, viola and cello, plus flute and voices) at their Christmas children’s concert at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield.
For more about my collaborations with Sally, see also Daughter of the Sea, or my Using music page.