Mitchell’s thrilling novel The Waiting Hours
is as suspenseful as it is introspective
“The waiting hours is both the literal narrative territory Mitchell’s second novel occupies and the twitchy, uneasy anticipation of disaster that constitutes its overall mood as it traces the interconnected stories of three people who work those hours: a police officer, a trauma nurse, and a 911 dispatcher.
Violence, crises and tragedies abound, to be sure, but they’re woven in as the sort of prosaic drama inherent to the lives of the people who do these sorts of jobs. In fact, they’re almost a secondary concern in a novel far more interested in the internal ups-and-downs of its protagonists, the searching, anxious “waiting hours” of their own souls.
It’s also as a compliment then, that I say this novel ends in a completely unsatisfying way. There are no neat narrative bows or Good Guys Won, Bad Guys Lost. It’s messy and muddled, uncertain and unsettling – but in the way that makes you hungry for a sequel.
APRIL 29, 2019.
This was made as part of the Virtual Gala 2020 for the Atlantic Book Awards, Thomas Raddall Fiction Prize.
For this work I made photo journals that encompassed my characters' personal and working worlds. This allowed me to look them in the eyes as I wrote. I always use images when I write, but I had never used them in this way. Each project seems to demand its own unique approach.
I also found myself writing to music for this work. I was trying to catch a rhythm in the words. I would fill up on the songs, replaying it several times, then hit stop and write. I often thought of the novel as a score. I heard it, as well as saw it. This is some it. Again, this is not normally part of my process, but this work wanted it, so I followed.