Koontz, Dean R(ay) 1945-
KOONTZ, Dean R(ay) 1945-
(David Axton, Brian Coffey, Deanna Dwyer, K. R. Dwyer, John Hill, Leigh Nichols, Anthony North, Richard Paige, Owen West)
PERSONAL: Born July 9, 1945, in Everett, PA; son of Ray and Florence Koontz; married Gerda Ann Cerra, October 15, 1966.
ADDRESSES: Agent—Robert Gottlieb, Trident Media Group, 488 Madison Ave., 17th Floor, New York, NY 10022.
CAREER: Teacher-counselor with Appalachian Poverty Program, 1966-67; high school English teacher, 1967-69; writer, 1969—.
AWARDS, HONORS: Atlantic Monthly college creative writing award, 1966, for story "The Kittens"; Hugo Award nomination, World Science Fiction Convention, 1971, for novella Beastchild; Litt.D., Shippensburg State College, 1989.
NOVELS, EXCEPT AS INDICATED
Star Quest, Ace Books (New York, NY), 1968.
The Fall of the Dream Machine, Ace Books (New York, NY), 1969.
Fear That Man, Ace Books (New York, NY), 1969.
Anti-Man, Paperback Library (New York, NY), 1970.
Beastchild, Lancer Books (New York, NY), 1970.
Dark of the Woods, Ace Books (New York, NY), 1970.
The Dark Symphony, Lancer Books (New York, NY), 1970.
Hell's Gate, Lancer Books (New York, NY), 1970.
The Crimson Witch, Curtis Books (New York, NY), 1971.
A Darkness in My Soul, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1972.
The Flesh in the Furnace, Bantam (New York, NY), 1972.
Starblood, Lancer Books (New York, NY), 1972.
Time Thieves, Ace Books (New York, NY), 1972.
Warlock, Lancer Books (New York, NY), 1972.
A Werewolf among Us, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1973.
Hanging On, M. Evans (New York, NY), 1973.
The Haunted Earth, Lancer Books (New York, NY), 1973.
Demon Seed, Bantam (New York, NY), 1973.
(Under pseudonym Anthony North) Strike Deep, Dial (New York, NY), 1974.
After the Last Race, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1974.
Nightmare Journey, Putnam (New York, NY), 1975.
(Under pseudonym John Hill) The Long Sleep, Popular Library (New York, NY), 1975.
Night Chills, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1976.
(Under pseudonym David Axton) Prison of Ice, Lippincott (Philadelphia, PA), 1976, revised edition under name Dean R. Koontz published as Icebound (also see below), Ballantine (New York, NY), 1995.
The Vision (also see below), Putnam (New York, NY), 1977.
Whispers (also see below), Putnam (New York, NY), 1980.
Phantoms (also see below), Putnam (New York, NY), 1983.
Darkfall (also see below), Berkley (New York, NY), 1984, published as Darkness Comes, W. H. Allen (London, England), 1984.
Twilight Eyes, Land of Enchantment (Westland, MI), 1985.
(Under pseudonym Richard Paige) The Door to December, New American Library (New York, NY), 1985.
Strangers (also see below), Putnam (New York, NY), 1986.
Watchers (also see below), Putnam (New York, NY), 1987, reprinted, Berkley Books (New York, NY), 2003.
Lightning (also see below), Putnam (New York, NY), 1988, reprinted, Berkley Books (New York, NY), 2003.
Midnight, Putnam (New York, NY), 1989, reprinted, Berkley Books (New York, NY), 2004.
The Bad Place (also see below), Putnam (New York, NY), 1990.
Cold Fire (also see below), Putnam (New York, NY), 1991.
Three Complete Novels: Dean R. Koontz: The Servants of Twilight; Darkfall; Phantoms, Wings Books (New York, NY), 1991.
Hideaway (also see below), Putnam (New York, NY), 1992.
Dragon Tears (also see below), Berkley (New York, NY), 1992, also published in a limited edition, Putnam (New York, NY), 1993.
Dean R. Koontz: A New Collection (contains Watchers, Whispers, and Shattered [originally published under pseudonym K. R. Dwyer; also see below]), Wings Books (New York, NY), 1992.
Mr. Murder (also see below), Putnam (New York, NY), 1993.
Winter Moon, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1993.
Three Complete Novels: Lightning; The Face of Fear; The Vision (The Face of Fear originally published under pseudonym Brian Coffey), Putnam (New York, NY), 1993.
Three Complete Novels: Dean Koontz: Strangers; The Voice of the Night; The Mask (The Voice of the Night originally published under pseudonym Brian Coffey; The Mask originally published under pseudonym Owen West), Putnam (New York, NY), 1994.
Dark Rivers of the Heart (also see below), Knopf (New York, NY), 1994.
Strange Highways (also see below), Warner Books (New York, NY), 1995.
Intensity (also see below), Knopf (New York, NY), 1995.
TickTock, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1996.
Three Complete Novels (contains The House of Thunder, Shadowfires, and Midnight), Putnam (New York, NY), 1996.
Santa's Twin, illustrated by Phil Parks, HarperPrism (New York, NY), 1996.
(Author of text) David Robinson, Beautiful Death: Art of the Cemetery, Penguin Studio (New York, NY), 1996.
Sole Survivor: A Novel, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1997.
Fear Nothing, Bantam (New York, NY), 1998.
Seize the Night (sequel to Fear Nothing), Bantam Doubleday Dell (New York, NY), 1999.
False Memory, Bantam (New York, NY), 2000.
From the Corner of His Eye, Bantam (New York, NY), 2000.
The Book of Counted Sorrows (e-book), bn.com, 2001.
One Door Away from Heaven, Bantam (New York, NY), 2002.
By the Light of the Moon, Bantam (New York, NY), 2003.
The Face, Bantam (New York, NY), 2003.
Odd Thomas, Bantam (New York, NY), 2004.
Robot Santa: The Further Adventures of Santa's Twin, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2004.
The Taking, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 2004.
UNDER PSEUDONYM BRIAN COFFEY
Blood Risk, Bobbs-Merrill (Indianapolis, IN), 1973.
Surrounded, Bobbs-Merrill (Indianapolis, IN), 1974.
The Wall of Masks, Bobbs-Merrill Indianapolis, IN), 1975.
The Face of Fear, Bobbs-Merrill (Indianapolis, IN), 1977.
The Voice of the Night, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1981.
Also author of script for CHiPS television series, 1978.
UNDER PSEUDONYM DEANNA DWYER
The Demon Child, Lancer Books (New York, NY), 1971.
Legacy of Terror, Lancer Books (New York, NY), 1971.
Children of the Storm, Lancer Books (New York, NY), 1972.
The Dark of Summer, Lancer Books (New York, NY), 1972.
Dance with the Devil, Lancer Books (New York, NY), 1973.
UNDER PSEUDONYM K. R. DWYER
Chase (also see below), Random House (New York, NY), 1972.
Shattered (also see below), Random House (New York, NY), 1973.
Dragonfly, Random House (New York, NY), 1975.
UNDER PSEUDONYM LEIGH NICHOLS
The Key to Midnight, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1979.
The Eyes of Darkness, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1981.
The House of Thunder, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1982.
Twilight, Pocket Books, 1984, revised edition under name Dean R. Koontz published as The Servants of Twilight, Berkley (New York, NY), 1990.
Shadowfires, Avon (New York, NY), 1987.
UNDER PSEUDONYM OWEN WEST
(With wife, Gerda Koontz) The Pig Society (nonfiction), Aware Press (Granada Hills, CA), 1970.
(With Gerda Koontz) The Underground Lifestyles Handbook, Aware Press (Granada Hills, CA), 1970.
Soft Come the Dragons (story collection), Ace Books (New York, NY), 1970.
Writing Popular Fiction, Writer's Digest (Cincinnati, OH), 1973.
The Funhouse (novelization of screenplay), Jove (New York, NY), 1980.
The Mask, Jove (New York, NY), 1981.
How to Write Best-Selling Fiction, Writer's Digest (Cincinnati, OH), 1981.
Contributor to books, including Infinity 3, edited by Robert Haskins, Lancer Books, 1972; Again, Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison, Doubleday, 1972; Final Stage, edited by Edward L. Ferman and Barry N. Malzberg, Charterhouse, 1974; Night Visions IV, Dark Harvest, 1987; Stalkers: All New Tales of Terror and Suspense, edited by Ed Gorman and Martin H. Greenberg, illustrated by Paul Sonju, Dark Harvest, 1989; and Night Visions VI: The Bone Yard, Berkley, 1991.
ADAPTATIONS: Demon Seed was filmed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Warner Bros., 1977; Shattered was filmed by Warner Bros., 1977; Watchers was filmed by Universal, 1988; Hideaway was filmed by Tri-Star, starring Jeff Goldblum, 1994; Mr. Murder was filmed by Patchett Kaufman Entertainment and Elephant Walk Entertainment, 1999. Many of Koontz's works were recorded unabridged on audiocassette, including Cold Fire, Hideaway, and The Bad Place, Reader's Chair (Hollister, CA), 1991; Mr. Murder and Dragon Tears,Simon and Schuster Audio; Dark Rivers of the Heart, Icebound, and Intensity, Random House Audio; and Strange Highways and Chase, Warner Audio.
SIDELIGHTS: Dean R. Koontz is one of popular fiction's most successful novelists. Originally a science fiction writer, Koontz branched out from the genre in 1972, focusing mainly on suspense fiction. His novels, many of which have been bestsellers, are known for tightly constructed plots and rich characters—often combining elements of horror, science fiction, suspense, and romance.
While a prolific writer early in his career, with regard to sales and mainstream popular success, Koontz's breakthrough was his 1980 novel Whispers. According to Michael A. Morrison in Sudden Fear: The Horror and Dark Suspense Fiction of Dean R. Koontz, Whispers seems at first to be "a simple genre novel of the psychopathic-madman-assaults-woman variety." The novel revolves around Bruno Frye and his obsession with Hilary Thomas, a Hollywood screenwriter. But, Morrison argues, the parallels between the two characters become evident: "Both are victims of parental abuse, and both carry deep-seated neuroses as a consequence. Indeed, all the main figures of Koontz's novel reflect the constricting influence of childhood on adult life—the sins of the fathers and mothers." Elizabeth Massie, also a contributor to Sudden Fear, pointed out that Hilary emerges as a much stronger character than she initially appears after surviving the second attack and apparently killing Frye. For Massie, this "allow[s] the story to take off flying. It allows the tale to spend the majority of its energy with . . . Frye, which it is well advised to do. Having seen Hilary in action against Frye, the reader can know that, regardless of peril, Hilary will put up the good fight." Morrison concluded that Frye ranks "as one of the most original psychological aberrations in horror fiction."
Critical reaction to Whispers was mixed. A Publishers Weekly reviewer argued that readers will need "strong stomachs to tolerate the overheated scenes of rape and mayhem." While the reviewer praised Koontz's portrait of Frye, it was also noted that the mystery is too easy to solve because the author gives too many clues. Library Journal contributor Rex E. Klett viewed Koontz edging "dangerously close to a ruinous occultism" with Whispers, but also found the novel a smooth read. Denis Pitts, reviewing the novel in Punch, called Whispers a "superior crime read." Pitts advises: "Whispers is not a book to be read by women of a nervous disposition living alone in a country house. Or men, come to think of it."
Strangers, published in 1986, is the story of a group of people connected only by a weekend each spent at a motel in Nevada two years prior—a weekend none of them remember. The characters begin to experience nightmares, unusual, intense fears, and even supernormal powers, driving each toward uncovering the mystery and conspiracy that joins them all. Deborah Kirk, in the New York Times Book Review, found some of the characters unconvincing but concluded that Strangers is "an engaging, often chilling, book," while Library Journal's Eric W. Johnson dubbed the novel an "almost unbearably suspenseful page-turner." A Booklist reviewer deemed Koontz a "true master," and found Strangers "a rich brew of gothic horror and science fiction, filled with delectable turns of the imagination."
Dark Rivers of the Heart, published in 1994, is a suspense thriller and political parable revolving around Spencer Grant, an ex-policeman who "confronts a maniacally fascistic secret government agency, an underground web of computer espionage and his own hideous past," summarized Curt Suplee in the Washington Post Book World. As Edward Bryant noted in Locus, Spencer has ample paramilitary and cyberspace navigational skills himself, which "is lucky, since the bad guys are so bad and so well-equipped with hightech surveillance gadgets and weaponry." Spencer becomes involved with Valerie Keene, a waitress and computer hacker, and finds that federal agents are soon pursuing them both. Suplee commented that this familiar ground, in which "boy can't get girl until the nefarious father/superego figures are adequately purged," is offset by Koontz's narrative, which is replete with "so much novelty and so many odd asides, new characters and screwball sub themes that there's a fresh surprise on virtually every page." Suplee argued that readers may be put off by Koontz's implausible character motivations and "uneconomical" prose style, but concluded that, with regard to "narrative pace and incessant invention, Koontz delivers." Bryant viewed Dark Rivers as reflecting Koontz's trust in his readers, finding that the narrative "flows better than many of Koontz's other recent novels because the characters spend less time explaining important issues to each other at length," and in conclusion called the novel "enormously entertaining."
The prolific Koontz published two works in 1995, Strange Highways and Intensity, the former a collection of short stories, novellas, and two novel-length pieces. A Publishers Weekly reviewer argued that a few of the stories in Strange Highways are "slight, but none is a failure," and concluded that Koontz's collection is "well crafted and imaginative." Brad Hooper commented in Booklist that Koontz's "legion of fans won't be let down." Koontz's best-selling novel Intensity is the story of Chyna Shepherd, a psychology student who must combat Edgler Vess, a killer obsessed with intensity of sensation, be it pleasure or pain. Colin Harrison, in a New York Times Book Review piece on Intensity, lamented that, despite Koontz's "gift for gruesome storytelling," his villain, Vess, is a pop-culture cliché. A Publishers Weekly reviewer, however, found Intensity "masterful, if ultimately predictable," and lauded Koontz's racing narrative, calling it a contender for the most "viscerally exciting thriller of the year."
In the 1997 work Sole Survivor, readers are introduced to former crime reporter Joe Carpenter, a man devastated by the death of his wife and two children in a plane crash. Unemployed and living on insurance money, Carpenter is reduced to derelict status. Then why, Carpenter wonders, does he appear to be under surveillance? The plot thickens when Carpenter encounters a strange woman while visiting the graves of his family. The woman claims to be a survivor of the airplane crash, although there were officially no survivors. Carpenter sets out to unravel the mystery and find out what brought the plane down. In the course of his investigations, he comes upon strange suicides, an esoteric cult, and a cover-up that is much more far reaching than the plane crash. Reviewing Sole Survivor for the New York Times Book Review, Charles Salzburg dubbed Koontz "a master of his trade." Although faulting the novelist's prose style as excessively flowery and his "paranoid perspective" as "often unbelievable and downright annoying," Salzburg nevertheless concludes that Koontz "does know how to tell an exciting story."
Two of Koontz's novels from the late 1990s, Fear Nothing and Seize the Night, have the same protagonist and setting. Poet-surfer Christopher Snow lives in the California beach town of Moonlight Bay. Born with a genetic mutation that makes him sensitive to light, Snow can go outside only after dark. In Fear Nothing, Snow discovers that the body of his recently deceased father has vanished and been replaced by that of a murdered hitchhiker. With the help of his dog, a Labrador mix named Orson, his surfer-friend Bobby, and local disc jockey Sasha, Snow tries to get to the bottom of things and recover his father's corpse. Commenting on the book in the New York Times Book Review, Maggie Garb characterized Fear Nothing as an "overwrought narrative," maintaining that Koontz's detective trio "seem more like the stuff of adolescent fantasy than fully believable sleuths." Garb also criticized Koontz's "surfer lingo and literary pretension," as detrimental to the suspense of the book.
In Seize the Night Snow makes his second appearance. A reviewer for Entertainment Weekly describes the novel as "either an utterly zany thriller or the first really cool young-adult novel of 1999 . . . or Koontz without tears, sadism, or even much bloodshed." The actions starts when seven children are abducted from their homes. Snow is soon on the trail of the kidnappers along with his friends, which now include, in addition to Sasha and Bobbie, a mind-reading cat and a biker. The chase takes them to a supposedly abandoned military base, Fort Wyvern, where genetic experiments are being conducted. Among the strange, mutated creatures Snow and his cohorts uncover are wormlike creatures that can devour just about anything. At one point Snow becomes trapped by a malfunctioning "temporal locator" that sends him both into the future and the past. An Entertainment Weekly reviewer noted that Seize the Night is "that holy-cow kind of novel—park your brains, don't ask why, tighten your seat belt." David Walton of the New York Times Book Review characterized the novel as "a bros-and-brew backslapper in which characters refer to Coleridge and T. S. Eliot as often as to genetic mutation."
A Publishers Weekly reviewer states of False Memory that "Koontz offers a standalone that's less thematically ambitious but more viscerally exciting" than the "Snow" novels that preceeded it. False Memory is the story of a woman who suffers from the mental disorder of autophobia, or fear of self. Marty Rhodes, successful at work and in her marriage, takes her agoraphobic friend Susan to therapy sessions with psychiatrist Mark Ahriman twice each week. Suddenly, Marty begins to develop a fear that she will inflict harm upon herself or her loved ones. Meanwhile, Marty's husband, Dusty, a painting contractor, finds himself having to save his half-brother Skeet from making a suicidal leap off a rooftop. After Dusty places Skeet in rehab, he returns home to find that Marty has removed all the sharp objects from the house. Soon Dusty begins to develop signs of paranoia. There are no coincidences here: all four of the novel's disturbed protagonists are victims of psychiatrist Mark Ahriman, who has used hypnosis to control their lives. Ray Olsen of Booklist called False Memory "a tale that is remarkably engaging, despite having so many pages and so little plot." Jeff Ayers expressed a similar viewpoint in Library Journal when he suggests that the book "could have been trimmed by 200 pages and not lost any impact. Still, the characters are rich, and the main story compelling." A Publishers Weekly reviewer commented that with "the amazing fertility of its prose, the novel feels like one of Koontz's earlier tales, with a simple core plot, strong everyman heroes (plus one deliciously malevolent villain) and pacing that starts at a gallop and gets only faster."
In The Taking Koontz offers up a "gripping, blood-curdling, thought-provoking parable," according to Ray Olsen in Booklist. Novelist Molly Sloan and her husband are at their home in the San Bernardino Mountains in California, when everything starts to come apart. In addition to a mysterious glowing acid raid, the power is off, but somehow appliances run and clocks start spinning out of control. Before long the couple realizes that the country is under attack by a malevolent alien race. "Mixing a hair-raising plot with masterly story telling and a subtle network of well-placed literary allusions, this deservedly popular author has written a tour de force," stated Nancy McNicol in Library Journal, while a reviewer for Publishers Weekly commented that "Koontz remains one of the most fascinating of contemporary popular novelists," with The Taking marking "an important effort, but not his best, though its sincerity and passion can't be denied."
Koontz's fictional characters are often pitted against unspeakable evil and amazing odds but nonetheless emerge victorious. Concerning this optimism Koontz once commented: "For all its faults, I find the human species—and Western culture—to be primarily noble, honorable, and admirable. In an age when doomsayers are to be heard in every corner of the land, I find great hope in our species and in the future we will surely make for ourselves. I have no patience whatsoever for misanthropic fiction, of which there is too much these days. In fact, that is one reason why I do not wish to have the 'horror novel' label applied to my books even when it is sometimes accurate; too many current horror novels are misanthropic, senselessly bleak, and I do not wish to be lumped with them. I am no Pollyanna, by any means, but I think we live in a time of marvels, not a time of disaster, and I believe we can solve every problem that confronts us if we keep our perspective and our freedom. Very little if any great and long-lasting fiction has been misanthropic. I strongly believe that, in addition to entertaining, it is the function of fiction to explore the way we live, reinforce our noble traits, and suggest ways to improve the world where we can."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Kotker, Joan G., Dean Koontz: A Critical Companion, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1996.
Munster, Bill, editor, Sudden Fear: The Horror and Dark Suspense Fiction of Dean R. Koontz, Starmont House (Mercer Island, WA), 1988.
Munster, Bill, Discovering Dean Koontz: Essays on America's Best-Selling Writer of Suspense and Horror Fiction, Borgo Press (San Bernardino, CA), 1998.
Ramsland, Katherine M., Dean Koontz: A Writer's Biography, HarperPrism (New York, NY), 1997.
Analog, January, 1984.
Armchair Detective, summer, 1995, p. 329.
Booklist, March 1, 1986, p. 914; April 15, 1995, p. 1452; December 15, 1999, Ray Olsen, review of False Memory, p. 739; May 1, 2004, Ray Olsen, review of The Taking, p. 1483.
Entertainment Weekly, January 12, 1996, p. 50; January 15, 1999, "'Night' Stalker," p. 56.
Library Journal, May 15, 1980, p. 1187; April 15, 1986, p. 95; January, 2000, Jeff Ayers, review of False Memory, p. 160; April 15, 2004, Kristen L. Smith, review of The Face, p. 146; June 15, 2004, Nancy McNicol, review of The Taking, p. 58.
Locus, February, 1989, p. 21; March, 1992, p. 62; September, 1994, p. 29; October, 1994, p. 21; December, 1994, p. 58; January, 1995, p. 49; February, 1995, p. 39.
Los Angeles Times, March 12, 1986.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, January 31, 1988; January 21, 1990; November 13, 1994, p. 14; May 21, 1995, p. 10.
New York Times Book Review, January 12, 1975; February 29, 1976; May 22, 1977; September 11, 1977; June 15, 1986, p. 20; November 13, 1994, p. 58; February 25, 1996, p. 9; April 20, 1997, Charles Salzberg, review of Sole Survivor; February 8, 1998, Maggie Garb, review of Fear Nothing; February 7, 1999, David Walton, review of Seize the Night.
Observer (London, England), February 12, 1995, p. 22.
People, April 13, 1987; April 24, 1989; January 19, 2004, Rob Taub, review of Odd Thomas, p. 45.
Publishers Weekly, April 4, 1980, p. 61; March 7, 1986, p. 82; December 18, 1987; December 19, 1994, p. 52; April 24, 1995, p. 60; November 6, 1995, p. 81; February 5, 1996, p. 41; December 13, 1999, review of False Memory, p. 67; May 10, 2004, review of The Taking, p. 37.
Punch, July 15, 1981, p. 109.
Rapport, April, 1994, p. 27.
School Library Journal, May, 2004, Katherine Fitch, review of Odd Thomas, p. 175.
Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Review, October, 1983, pp. 25-26.
Science Fiction Chronicle, March, 1995, p. 39.
Time, January 8, 1996.
Times Literary Supplement, September 11, 1981.
Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), April 12, 1981.
Washington Post Book World, December 11, 1994, p. 8.
Bookreporter.com,http://www.bookreporter.com/ (March 2, 2001), "Author Profile: Dean Koontz."
Books@Random, www.randomhouse.com/ (August 2, 2004), "Dean Koontz: The Official Web Site."*