J.J. Abrams Teases His New Novel ‘S.’ Has Undiscovered Secrets

The novel within a novel is just the start of a larger story.

J.J. Abrams isn’t one to shy away from a mystery, which explains how his new novel “S.” (co-written by Doug Dorst) came about:

“I was at the L.A. airport,” Abrams told MTV News’ Josh Horowitz on the origins of the project. “I saw a book sitting on a bench. It was a paperback novel, opened it up, it was a Robert Ludlum novel. But somebody had written inside of it in blue ink: ‘To whomever finds this book, please read it, take it somewhere, and leave it for someone else to read it.’ And I just loved that idea that someone would leave a book, and write a note, it was this optimistic thing, they weren’t asking anything in return.”

From there, Abrams recruited writer Doug Dorst to create something entirely original: a novel within a novel, with ancillary material inserted inside he pages. The resulting book is a nautical adventure novel titled “Ship of Theseus,” but in the margin and through included materials like maps and napkins with writing on them, another story emerges.

“I just thought what if someone found a book in the corner of a university library,” Abrams continued. “And what if they found notes written in the book. And instead of just leaving it for someone to find it, for the person who left it, what if they responded to those notes. And what if the person who left those notes left it again, responded again… And what if a relationship began between two people that were purposely hiding a book in a library for each other, purposely to read, and respond, ultimately fall in love and get to know each other, and get involved in what is now a significant mystery.”

Those who know Abrams’ previous work, from “LOST” to the “Star Trek” movies know that the multi-hyphenate loves a good mystery, and “S.” fits right in with those other works.

“It does live in that sweet spot area of, you can get sucked into the details and looking for things,” Abrams notes. “And in fact there are other pieces out there in the world, online and elsewhere that we’ve put out there for people who do want to get crazily involved in the story of ‘S.’ ”

Interesting to note, we have as of yet haven’t seen any of those ancillary elements. Are there more websites out there? Maybe books left in other libraries? Greater mysteries to uncover? At the end of the day, for Abrams at least the only things that matter are that they got the book just right.

“It actually looks like an old library book,” Abrams said. “And some people say, when they open the slipcase, it smells like an old library book.

“S.” is on sale in bookstores everywhere from Mulholland Books.

Writer/Editor at MTV News. You can follow him on Twitter, but not in real life because that would be weird.
@azalben