Dean Koontz

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This article is about the American author. For other uses, see Koontz.
Dean Koontz
Born Dean Ray Koontz
(1945-07-09) July 9, 1945 (age 69)
Everett, Pennsylvania
Pen name Aaron Wolfe, Brian Coffey, David Axton, Deanna Dwyer, John Hill, K.R. Dwyer, Leigh Nichols, Anthony North, Owen West, Richard Paige.
Occupation novelist, short story writer, screenwriter, poet
Alma mater Shippensburg State College (B.A., English, 1967)
Genre Suspense, Horror fiction, Science fiction, Thrillers
Notable works Odd Thomas, Demon Seed, Watchers, Hideaway, Intensity, Phantoms.
Spouse Gerda Cerra
Website
http://deankoontz.com

Dean Ray Koontz (born July 9, 1945) is an American author. His novels are broadly described as suspense thrillers, but also frequently incorporate elements of horror, science fiction, mystery, and satire. Several of his books have appeared on the New York Times Bestseller List, with 14 hardcovers[1] and 14 paperbacks reaching the number one position.[2] Koontz wrote under a number of pen names earlier in his career, including "David Axton", "Leigh Nichols" and "Brian Coffey". He has sold over 450 million copies as reported on his official site.

Early life[edit]

Koontz was born on July 9, 1945, in Everett, Pennsylvania, the son of Florence (née Logue) and Raymond Koontz.[3][4] He was regularly beaten and abused by his alcoholic father, which influenced his later writing, as also did the courage of his physically diminutive mother in standing up to her husband.[5] "In his senior year at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, he won a fiction competition sponsored by Atlantic Monthly magazine.[6] After graduation in 1967, he went to work as an English teacher at Mechanicsburg High School in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.[3] In the 1960s, Koontz worked for the Appalachian Poverty Program, a federally funded initiative designed to help poor children.[7] In a 1996 interview with Reason Magazine, he said that while the program sounded "very noble and wonderful, . . . [i]n reality, it was a dumping ground for violent children . . . and most of the funding ended up 'disappearing somewhere.'"[7] This experience greatly shaped Koontz's political outlook. In his book, The Dean Koontz Companion, he recalled that he:

realized that most of these programs are not meant to help anyone, merely to control people and make them dependent. I was forced to reconsider everything I'd once believed. I developed a profound distrust of government regardless of the philosophy of the people in power. I remained a liberal on civil-rights issues, became a conservative on defense, and a semi-libertarian on all other matters."[7]

Career[edit]

In his spare time, he wrote his first novel, Star Quest, which was published in 1968. Koontz went on to write over a dozen science fiction novels. Seeing the Catholic faith as a contrast to the chaos in his family, Koontz converted in college because it gave him answers for his life, admiring its "intellectual rigor" and saying it permits a view of life that sees mystery and wonder in all things.[8][9] He says he sees the Church as English writer and Catholic convert G.K. Chesterton did.[clarification needed][8] Koontz says that spirituality has always been part of his books, as are grace and our struggle as fallen souls, but he "never get[s] on a soapbox".[8]

In the 1970s, Koontz began writing suspense and horror fiction, both under his own name and several pseudonyms, sometimes publishing up to eight books a year. Koontz has stated that he began using pen names after several editors convinced him that authors who switched back and forth between different genres invariably fell victim to "negative crossover" (alienating established fans and simultaneously failing to pick up any new ones). Known pseudonyms used by Koontz during his career include Deanna Dwyer, K. R. Dwyer, Aaron Wolfe, David Axton, Brian Coffey, John Hill, Leigh Nichols, Owen West, Richard Paige and Anthony North. As Brian Coffey he wrote the "Mike Tucker" trilogy [Blood Risk, Surrounded, Wall of Masks] in acknowledged tribute to the Parker novels of Richard Stark (Donald E. Westlake). Many of Koontz's pseudonymous novels are now available under his real name. Many others remain suppressed by Koontz, who bought back the rights to ensure they could not be republished; he has, on occasion, said that he might revise some for re-publication, but only 3 have appeared - Demon Seed and Invasion were both heavily rewritten before they were republished, and Prison of Ice had certain sections bowdlerised.

After writing full-time for more than ten years, Koontz's acknowledged breakthrough novel was Whispers, published in 1980. The two books before that, The Key to Midnight and The Funhouse, also sold over a million copies, but were written under pen names. Thus although Whispers is Koontz's third paperback bestseller, it was the second credited to Koontz.[10] His very first bestseller was Demon Seed, the sales of which picked up after the release of the film of the same name in 1977, and sold over two million copies in one year.[11] From 1979 on, Koontz's books regularly became paperback bestsellers. His first hardcover bestseller, which finally promised some financial stability and lifted him out of the midlist hit-and-miss range was his book Strangers.[12] Since then, 12 hardcovers and 13 paperbacks written by Koontz have reached #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List.[2]

Bestselling science fiction writer Brian Herbert has stated that "I even went though a phase where I read everything that Dean Koontz wrote, and in the process I learned a lot about characterization and building suspense."[13]

In 1997 psychologist Katherine Ramsland published an extensive biography of Koontz based on interviews with him and his family. This "psychobiography" (as Ramsland called it) often showed the conception of Koontz's characters and plots from events in his own life.[14]

Early author photos on the back of many of his novels show a balding Koontz with a mustache. After Koontz underwent hair transplantation surgery in the late 1990s, his subsequent books have featured a new clean-shaven appearance with a fuller head of hair.[15] Koontz explained the change by claiming that he was tired of looking like G. Gordon Liddy.[citation needed]

Many of his novels are set in and around Orange County, California. As of 2006 he lives there with his wife, Gerda (Cerra). In 2008 he was the world's sixth most highly paid author, tied with John Grisham, at $25 million annually.[16]

Other Inspiration[edit]

One of Dean Koontz's pen names was inspired by his dog, Trixie Koontz, a golden retriever, shown in many of his book-jacket photos. Trixie originally was a service dog with Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), a charitable organization that provides service dogs for people with disabilities.[17] Trixie was a gift from CCI in gratitude of Koontz's substantial donations, totalling $2,500,000 between 1991 and 2004.[18] Koontz was taken with the charity while he was researching his novel Midnight, a book which included a CCI-trained dog, a black Labrador retriever, named Moose. In 2004 Koontz wrote and edited Life Is Good: Lessons in Joyful Living in her name, and in 2005 Koontz wrote a second book credited to Trixie, Christmas Is Good. Both books are written from a supposed canine perspective on the joys of life. The royalties of the books were donated to CCI.[17] In 2007 Trixie contracted terminal cancer that created a tumor in her heart. The Koontzes had her put to sleep outside of their family home on June 30.[17] After Trixie's death Koontz has continued writing on his website under Trixie's names in "TOTOS", standing for Trixie on the Other Side.[17] It is widely thought that Trixie was his inspiration for his November 2007 book, The Darkest Evening of the Year, about a woman who runs a golden retriever rescue home, and who rescues a 'special' dog, named Nickie, who eventually saves her life. In August 2009 Koontz published "A Big Little Life," a memoir of his life with Trixie.

In October 2008 Koontz revealed that he had adopted a new dog, Anna. It eventually was learned that Anna was the grandniece of Trixie.[19]

Disputed authorship[edit]

There are a number of letters, articles and novels ostensibly written by Koontz during the 1960s and 1970s that he has stated he did not write. These include 30 erotic novels, allegedly written together by Koontz and his wife Gerda, including books such as Thirteen and Ready!, Swappers Convention and Hung, the last one published under the name "Leonard Chris". They also include contributions to the fanzines Energumen and BeABohema in the late 1960s and early 1970s, including articles that mention the erotic novels,[20][21] such as a movie column called "Way Station"[22] in BeABohema.

Koontz has stated on his website [23] that he used only the 9 known pen names[23] and "there are no secret pen names used by Dean";[23] he adds that his own identity was stolen by "a person he had previously worked with professionally", who submitted letters and some articles to fanzines under Koontz's name between 1969 and at least the early 1970s.[23] Koontz has stated that he was only made aware of these bogus letters and articles in 1991 in a written admission from the identity thief. He has stated that he will reveal this person's name in his memoirs.[23]

Bibliography[edit]

Screenplays[edit]

  • 1979 – CHiPs episode 306: Counterfeit (as Brian Coffey), screenplay
  • 1998 – Phantoms, screenplay
  • 2005 – Dean Koontz's Frankenstein, screenplay

Film adaptations[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Koontz’s Chart Toppers". New York Times. January 11, 2012. Retrieved January 29, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b "http://www.deankoontz.com/about-dean/". 
  3. ^ a b Dean Koontz biography accessed May 3, 2010.
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ Carroll, Jerry (February 23, 1998). "Dean Koontz Fears Nothing". San Francisco Chronicle. p. E-1. Retrieved June 10, 2012. 
  6. ^ Piazza, Judyth: "Judyth Piazza chats with Dean Koontz and Mark Constant, The Market on Granada" St. Augustine News, July 27, 2009
  7. ^ a b c Dean Koontz – Friend of Liberty, Advocates for Self-Government
  8. ^ a b c Drake, Tim (March 6, 2007). "Chatting With Koontz About Faith". National Catholic Register. Retrieved 2009-11-28. 
  9. ^ Rossi, Tony, Best-selling Author Dean Koontz Explores Catholic Values in Novels Catholic Exchange, August 1, 2009
  10. ^ deankoontz.com. "shadowfires from the author". Retrieved 2010-06-27. 
  11. ^ deankoontz.com. "demon seed from the author". Retrieved 2011-01-01. 
  12. ^ deankoontz.com. "strangers from the author". Retrieved 2010-06-27. 
  13. ^ "Interview with Brian Herbert". www.frankherbert.net. Retrieved 2011-05-03. 
  14. ^ Ramsland, Katherine M. (1997). Dean Koontz : a writer’s biography. New York, N.Y.: HarperPrism. ISBN 0-06-105271-X. LCCN 97030839. 
  15. ^ deankoontz.com. "photo gallery". Archived from the original on 2007-06-29. Retrieved 2007-08-03. 
  16. ^ "Rowling makes £5 every second". BBC. October 3, 2008. Retrieved 2009-11-29. 
  17. ^ a b c d deankoontz.com. "Trixie Koontz". Archived from the original on 2007-07-10. Retrieved 2007-08-01. 
  18. ^ Ben Fox (2004-12-26). "Associated Press". Deseret News. Retrieved 2007-08-01. 
  19. ^ Koontz, Dean. "The Write Stuff: All About Anna". Retrieved 2008-10-30. 
  20. ^ "Dean's Drive", Energumen 8; June 1971, page 9
  21. ^ BeABohehma #8, 1970, ed. Frank Lunney; page 5
  22. ^ "Live Journal". Retrieved December 16, 2012. 
  23. ^ a b c d e "Facts for Collectors". deankoontz.com. Retrieved December 14, 2012. 
  24. ^ "Dean R. Koontz's 'Frankenstein' Resurrected in Feature Film Form". BloodyDisgusting. 
  25. ^ Dean Koontz The Husband, The Husband Movie – Dean Koontz – The Official Site
  26. ^ Dean Koontz Website, Suspense Novel – Dean Koontz – The Official Site

External links[edit]