Midnight – Travis Thrasher

Midnight by Travis Thrasher
Published by Lucas Lane Publishers on September 14, 2022
Genres: Fiction, Speculative, Suspense
Buy on Amazon

From Spencer Holloway, the creator of dozens of your favorite trailers, comes the movie event of a lifetime . . .

One Christmas Eve after Spencer Holloway finishes watching It’s a Wonderful Life for the 100th time, he has a heart attack and dies. But since this starts at the beginning of the story, this isn’t some big spoiler.

What happens next is really up to you to decide. Is this a ghost story? A love story? A morality tale? A melancholy magnum opus? Maybe it’s all of those things.

From novelist and ghostwriter Travis Thrasher comes a novel initially called A Sky Full of Stars until the story became darker. A strange sibling to Sky Blue and 40, Midnight is about the meaning of life and one man’s search for it.

I have followed Travis Thrasher’s career for as long as I’ve been reviewing books and was sent an advance copy of Thrasher’s then-upcoming novel from FaithWords called Ghostwriter. I was hooked. Thrasher’s Solitary Tales series remains a spooky favorite. I dove into his backlist and found that suspense wasn’t all that he’d written. Travis transcended genre, writing action-adventures, simple romances, novelizations, children’s books, non-fiction, and more. To me, he’s an example of a pure writer: Give him a prompt for any genre, any subject and he’ll do it justice.

It’s no surprise then that Travis Thrasher started to become known as a “collaborations guy.” Are you a celebrity/public figure with a book idea or a memoir and you need someone to actually write it? Travis became that guy. He did novelizations of a whole host of Christian movies (God’s Not Dead, Home Run, Do You Believe?, Indivisible). Then there were the collaborations with music stars both fictional (Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not? with Thompson Square, Letters from War with Mark Schultz, Paper Angels with Jimmy Wayne) and non-fictional (That’s A Rap with MattyB, Go Big or Go Home with Scotty McCreery). And that’s only a selection of the collaborations (need I mention his books with the Duck Dynasty family or the DudePerfect people?).

Somewhere along the line, because of career necessities, Thrasher’s writing shifted from his stories to other people’s stories. Then, in September 2022, Travis quietly released Midnight: A Novel. In the promotional material for the book, he writes: “Is this a ghost story? A love story? A morality tale? A melancholy magnum opus? Maybe it’s all of those things.” On his blog, he acknowledges that it’s an unusual story told in an unconventional way: “Maybe ten people will read and five people will like it.” On Goodreads (prior to this review), there are exactly two ratings of the book, both from people I know have followed Travis’s career, and both 3 stars. On Amazon, there’s one solitary five-star rating. No reviews. In fact, nineteen months after its release, what you’re reading here is the first review of Midnight.

Midnight is the story of Spencer Holloway—a movie trailer creator extraordinaire—and his life…well, his afterlife. On Christmas Eve, after watching It’s a Wonderful Life, Spencer as a heart attack and dies. And then, for five hundred pages, readers are taken on a philosophical, introspective, music and movie infused journey of the musings of a ghost searching for the meaning of life. The plot is thin, at best. The pace is slow. There’s some sense of confusion and disorganization. Readers are really put into Spencer’s mindset and very few questions are ever answered or explained.

Midnight is a book that lives on the vibes, written in mostly one-to-three page spurts, in a stream-of-consciousness style, sort of evocative of James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Rather than quotation marks, Thrasher utilizes en dashes (ex: – ) to offset dialogue. Each chapter is given a title, many of which comes from a real-life song (ex: “Reel Around the Fountain” from the Smiths, “Mercy Street” by Peter Gabriel, and probably more. All of this gives a certain aura to the book, making its setting—and by this I mean the book’s context and tone, more than its physical location—of paramount importance.

This is a story about a man trying to find himself. And by that, I mean both the fictional Spencer and the non-fictional Travis. Thrasher has written that most of Midnight was written around midnight over a five-year period when he was immersed in collaborative projects. This is what he wrote for himself: The story about the ghost of a collaborator wondering about the meaning of his life and finding peace.

Midnight oozes catharsis. And while some authors writing out of such a state try (or are forced by editors) to generalize their story for a general audience, Thrasher’s work—for it to truly work—needed to remain fully his. He ends up with a novel that is fully, truly, uniquely himself, the overflow of needing to unleash creative ambition for purely personal and non-transactional reasons. Is this a good novel? Well, it depends on your definition of good.

I’m calling it good on the basis that, through this book, Thrasher managed to capture a creative spark of his very own. Did it need to be published? Did it need to be published in this way? Probably not. Looking at the book and its style from a strictly literary standpoint, I think Midnight would have fared better as a novella or possibly as a serialized story on Substack. I think that it would have needed to have more of a plot structure, a faster pace, and clearer movement through the story. But, if it had been those things, I don’t think it would have been the work that it needed to be.

Would I read it again? Probably not.

Am I glad I read it? Yes.

Did it make me yearn for more traditional Travis Thrasher originals? Absolutely.

Maybe it’s time I made my way back through my Travis Thrasher shelf once again.


About Travis Thrasher

Travis Thrasher

Bestselling author Travis Thrasher has written over 50 books, spanning genres in fiction, nonfiction and children’s literature. His inspirational stories have included collaborations with filmmakers, musicians, athletes, celebrities and pastors.

With the childhood goal of pursuing a writing career starting in third grade, Thrasher worked for 13 years at Tyndale House Publishers after graduating college. His experience working with as Author Relations Manager allowed him to understand the writing life as well as training him to work with a variety of personalities. This experience has proven to be invaluable with varied writing projects in the decade he’s been a full-time writer.

His novels are as diverse as the people he’s worked with, ranging from love stories to supernatural thrillers. Publishers Weekly said “Sara and Ethan are two of the most real and sensitive lovers to grace the genre” when reviewing his first novel, The Promise Remains. They also stated “Thrasher demonstrates a considerable talent for the horror genre” in a review for Isolation years later. His readers have enjoyed the unpredictability of his novels, whether it’s due to a unique style such as second person or a twist they never saw coming.

Thrasher’s storytelling ability has also allowed him to work with others on their books, from musicians like country musician Scotty McCreery and Journey keyboardist Jonathan Cain to the Robertsons of Duck Dynasty. He has also penned novels based on songs such as Paper Angels with Jimmy Wayne and novelizations for films including Do You Believe? and God’s Not Dead 2. Upcoming projects continue to expand his talents, with projects including The Black Auxiliary about the lives of the 17 American black athletes who competed in the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, and Baby Don’t Hurt Me about comedian Chris Kattan’s life and time on Saturday Night Live.

Travis lives with his wife and three young daughters in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area.