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.


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.”


“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.”


“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)