San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

November 14th, 2013
Texas State author on Times best seller list


Texas State University creative writing professor Doug Dorst released his latest novel, “S.,” a collaboration with Hollywood producer, director and writer J.J. Abrams, on Oct. 29.


Doug Dorst

Less than a month later, it sits at number 8 on the New York Times Best Sellers List.

Abrams, who produced the hit television series “Lost” and the summer blockbuster “Star Trek: Into Darkness,” approached Dorst in February 2009 with the outline of an ambitious novel about 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 initial print of 200,000 by Melcher Media is unusually highm 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 worked many late nights to accommodate a busy teaching schedule and a newborn child. Although he maintained strict deadlines for 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 presented a challenge to Dorst’s usual writing process.

“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 credits his students as a source of inspiration, as well as Tom Grimes, director of the MFA Program in Creative Writing.

“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.”


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