Texas State's Doug Dorst co-authors best seller with J.J. Abrams

By Daniel Palomo III
University News Service
November 13, 2013

Doug Dorst

Doug Dorst

Texas State University creative writing professor Doug Dorst released his second novel, "S." a collaboration with Hollywood producer, director and writer J.J. Abrams, on Oct. 29 and it currently sits at number 8 on the New York Times Best Sellers List.

Abrams, the producer for the hit television series "Lost" and the summer blockbuster "Star Trek: Into Darkness," approached Dorst in February of 2009 with the outline of an ambitious novel; a love story that unfolds in the margins of a mysterious novel. Two readers of a library book, "Ship of Theseus," connect and build a relationship as they write notes and leave personal artifacts, such as handwritten letters and postcards, within the novel.

“It’s a groundbreaking piece of experimental fiction,” said Daniel Lochman, chair of the Department of English at Texas State. “It’s an incredible and extremely sophisticated novel.”

"S." is a collaborative effort involving Dorst, Abrams, Bad Robot--Abrams’ production company--and Melcher Media. The novel’s various loose artifacts were designed by Melcher Media and it was published by Mulholland Books. The initial print of 200,000 is unusually high and its early success has come as a bit of a surprise to Dorst.

“I knew it was possible, but I never expected it,” Dorst said. “It’s great to see that a lot of people seem to be enjoying it.”

Dorst, who worked many late nights to accommodate a busy teaching schedule and a newborn child, is happy with the results. Although they maintained strict deadlines in order to have a pre-Christmas release, Dorst is thankful for the experience of working with Abrams.

“It’s good to be around people who are willing to try anything,” Dorst said. “There’s a sense of freedom and creative adventurism.”

Abrams, keeping with his style of secrecy, guarded copies of the manuscript and watermarked them to prevent leaks. The secrecy with which the novel was developed presented a challenge to Dorst’s usual writing process, Dorst said.

“I have a close circle of friends who are usually my first readers,” Dorst said. “Due to the secrecy of the project, I couldn’t go to them.”

Dorst credited his students as a source of inspiration and Tom Grimes, director of the MFA Program in Creative Writing, as a significant source of support throughout the writing process.

“When you’re a professor you need to publish to build your career at an institution,” Dorst said. “The university has been extremely supportive throughout the entire process.”