J.J. Abrams: Director. Producer. And now, novelist.

J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst team up to write, "S."
J.J. Abrams and novelist Doug Dorst reinvent the hardback.

When J.J. Abrams conceived the idea for “S.” he knew there was only one way to tell the story – and it wasn’t onscreen. There would be no special effects or big-name actors. Abrams felt that the only medium that would work was a good old-fashioned book.

“It all started in LAX when J.J. found a paperback book,” co-author Doug Dorst tells Metro. “Someone had written a note to whoever was going to find it.” The note got the gears in Abrams’ brain turning, and he came up the idea of telling a story within a story.

“S.” is not your typical book. The pages look old and worn, with scribbles all over the margins. There are inserts of photos, postcards and letters tucked into the pages. It’s presented as a novel called “Ship of Theseus” written by V.M. Straka. But the notes and inserts tell another story, between a female college senior and a male graduate student who pass the book back and forth, leaving notes to each other.

Since writing a novel is a bit different from writing a script and Abrams was, you know, busy, he enlisted the help of acclaimed writer Dorst. “We spent the better part of a year talking about the characters, why they would pass the book back and forth to each other and the context of the notes,” Dorst says. “Abrams told me, ‘Go, run with it.’” Dorst would pass each chapter off to Abrams, who would then weigh in.

Telling two parallel stories with all the extras was no easy task. Unlike writing a traditional book confined only to a document on the computer, Dorst had to work in new ways. “There’s a ridiculous amount of detail in the book,” he says. “I didn’t actually have a great system of keeping track of it. It was a lot of scribbled notes and keeping a lot of it in my head, which is not the most efficient way to work.”

Despite not having everything figured out, Abrams and Dorst were on the same page (metaphorically speaking) the entire time. Though Abrams is familiar with screenwriting, where everything is mapped out beforehand, he adapted to the novel-writing process, letting the story unfold as it was being written.

So, are Abrams and Dorst hoping their book will inspire people to forgo their Kindles and go back to buying hardbacks? “I just want people to read!” Dorst laments. “I don’t think one form has to win out over the other.”

“S.” is being released electronically as well, but for the full experience, go for the hardback.

J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst will be doing a reading of “S.” Nov. 23, hosted by Lena Dunham. The event starts at 6 p.m. and tickets are $25, for sale at SymphonySpace.org.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

California passes 'yes-means-yes' campus sexual assault bill

Californian lawmakers passed a law on Thursday requiring universities to adopt "affirmative consent" language in their definitions of consensual sex, part of a nationwide drive to curb sexual assault on…

National

Syrian refugees top 3 million, half of all…

By Stephanie NebehayGENEVA (Reuters) - Three million Syrian refugees will have registered in neighboring countries as of Friday, but many remain trapped by the advance…

International

North Korean leader's money manager defects in Russia:…

A senior North Korean banking official who managed money for leader Kim Jong Un has defected in Russia and was seeking asylum in a third country, a South Korean newspaper…

Local

MAP: New York City Street Closures August 29,…

The Department of Transportation and NYPD said there may be residual delays near all of the street closures on August 29, 31 and 31. Several streets and avenues will be…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…

Movies

Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.

Movies

Criterion's new Jacques Demy box mixes the light…

Jacques Demy, the most effervescent of French New Wave filmmakers, gets a Criterion box all to himself, with classics like "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg."

Entertainment

Comedian Joan Rivers, 81, rushed to New York…

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Acerbic comedian and fashion critic Joan Rivers was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York on Thursday after she reportedly…

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…

Wellbeing

4 healthy ingredient swaps to make your meals…

When it comes to eating well, everyone knows they could be doing better. But cooking in an apartment on a busy schedule is a recipe…

Wellbeing

Heart trumps brain when it comes to movies…

When you need a good cry, do you reach for the movie that’s “based on a true story”? Science says you’re giving your brain far…