I commenced writing Ride Upon Midnight on Halloween night 2017, after four months of researching parapsychology and the paranormal. I would finish a mostly edited second draft in July 2018, the fastest I have ever written a (high-quality) draft. The seed of the story revolved around a rock musician with the power to manipulate the natural (and paranormal) world, and a girl (Ingrid) who was born spiritually on the other side. In order the convey the paranormal elements of the story realistically, I worked diligently on creating a storyarc that was meaningful, a sort of coming-of-age story about a 23 year old who stands in the shadow of his father’s legacy.
As things seem to occur with meaning once you start looking, I had just finished reading Michael Connelly’s ‘The Crossing’ in which main character Harry Bosch works on a motorcycle, and this was the perfect addition to Ride Upon Midnight‘s Nils Andersen’s work on his own motorcycle after serving his 14 year stint in Belmarsh for a crime he did not commit. And that is the plot – a murder mystery in which a common man (with an extraordinary power) is looking for the killer who framed him. There is no love subplot with the main character, and instead the relationships revolve around friendship and parental love/responsibility. In the case of Nils, he has no biological children, but that doesn’t stop the way he feels about the girl (Ingrid) who he sees as his own daughter.
I think part of Nils’s problem is that he doesn’t want to accept things the way they are. Ingrid tries to help him, but for people to grow they need to have self-realisation. Ride Upon Midnight is that self-discovery story, and it demonstrates how far a person can go to avoid confronting their image in the mirror. But it’s also a story of following your dreams, even if that means understanding that those dreams may not be exactly as you envisioned them.
The novel is divided into four parts and the number four is a common element in the structure of the story. At the time I really liked the symmetry of the number four. I would later abandon the four part structure in favour of the five act structure which I used on The Black Vulture, my upcoming novel Harvest (2021), and in the current draft of my 2022 novel tentatively called Hard Nothing. But the number of acts is simply a way to control pressure points in the story, and you could theoritcally divide the number of acts into 10, 20, or more, though that sort of precision is not very exciting for me – part of the mystery of writing a novel is to also be surprised.