Books

JJ Abrams talks his new novel

Before Episode VII, JJ Abrams has another project – an ‘interactive’ novel. He and co-writer Doug Dorst talked ShortList through the brilliantly complex S.

CONSPIRACY ABOUNDS

S. is presented as a novel called Ship Of Theseus,” says Abrams. “But when you open it you’ll see it’s [designed like] an old library book, complete with handwritten notes in the margins. The notes are the back-and-forth conversations of a college girl and a young man who don’t know each other. The ‘original’ book is dated 1949, but the man and woman are based in the present day and soon they’re uncovering a conspiracy concerning the book’s enigmatic author, VM Straka.”

MYSTERY INFLUENCE

“The concept was JJ’s,” says co-writer Dorst. “He’d randomly found a book in an LA airport a few years ago, and someone had left a note inside instructing him to leave it for someone else. I loved writing in these [different] voices. It was most fun to write as Straka, a man partly influenced by B Traven – history’s most mysterious author. But Straka is dangerous: his writing has toppled major corporations throughout the years and done a lot of damage, only adding to the intrigue.”

MULTI-PLATFORM INTERACTIVITY

“The pair leave tangible clues within the pages,” says Abrams. “As well as their margin notes, there are Xerox copies, postcards, newspaper cuttings – all pieces you can pick up and physically remove from the book. There’s stuff online, too. We have a trailer, plus more upcoming digital clues. This is a book unlike any book you’ve ever seen.”

S., created by JJ Abrams and written by Doug Dorst, is out now (Canongate)