An EXCLUSIVE AUTHORLINK interview with Dean Koontz
Quicksilver (Thomas & Mercer, 25 January 2022).
” I was too slow to take creative risks.”–Dean Koontz (on his early career)
Dean Koontz is one of the world’s most legendary, genre-bending, and prolific best-selling authors of all time. His books are published in 38 languages, and he has sold over 500 million copies to date.
With Quicksilver, the #1 New York Times bestselling master of suspense, takes a surprising and exhilarating road trip with a man in pursuit of his strange past – mile by frightening mile. Quinn Quicksilver was born a mystery—abandoned at three days old on a desert highway in Arizona. Raised in an orphanage, never knowing his parents, Quinn had a happy if unexceptional life. Until the day of “strange magnetism.” It compelled him to drive out to the middle of nowhere. It helped him find a coin worth a lot of money. And it practically saved his life when two government agents showed up in the diner in pursuit of him. Now Quinn is on the run from those agents and who knows what else, fleeing for his life.
During a shoot-out at a forlorn dude ranch, he finally meets his destined companions: Bridget Rainking, a beauty as gifted in foresight as she is with firearms, and her grandpa Sparky, a romance novelist with an unusual past. Bridget knows what it’s like to be Quinn. She’s hunted, too. The only way to stay alive is to keep moving.
Barreling through the Sonoran Desert, the formidable trio is impelled by that same inexplicable magnetism toward the inevitable. With every deeply disturbing mile, something sinister is in the rearview—an enemy that is more than a match for Quinn. Even as he discovers within himself resources that are every bit as scary.
“Sit back and enjoy what turns out to be quite a ride” —Kirkus Reviews
“Positively twitching with suspense. Another sure-fire hit from a thriller master”—Booklist (starred review)
AUTHORLINK: We loved Quicksilver and your character Quinn who starts off as a rather gullible and sweet young man before he meets Bridget, his future bride. The narrative, written from his perspective, is hugely entertaining; similar in style to a stream-of-consciousness. The dry and zany humor is sometimes laced in between frightening images of action and suspense. The vocabulary and attention to detail spring the story to life. In a way, it felt like being taken for a ride by an expert and confident driver, effortlessly weaving us from one scene to another. We also enjoyed the names of the characters and towns – almost fable-esque in nature.
What was the first kernel of inspiration for this story? Did Quinn pop into your mind first, or was it the idea of the story? When did you know Quinn was able to manage the themes of the premise?
“A lot of things are a mystery to me and keep me awake at night…”
KOONTZ: A lot of things are a mystery to me and keep me awake at night in a state of high anxiety. Like, why are they called “mushrooms” when they’re neither mush nor rooms? Why are they called “ears of corn” when they neither look like an ear nor have the ability to hear? If Goofy is a dog, why does he wear clothes and talk and walk around on his hind feet, when Pluto can’t do any of those things? Not least of all, I am sometimes mystified by where some of my stories come from. Quicksilver began with an image that came into my strange mind – a newborn baby in a bassinette abandoned on a lonely desert highway. Then followed a chain of what-ifs. If no one wanted him when he was born, what if no one wanted him in all the years he lived in an orphanage? And what if now that he’s nineteen, every law enforcement agency in the country wants him? That’s still not a story, but it’s an intriguing setup. I had to figure out why they were after him, and it had to be a unique and intriguing reason. When it came to me, about an hour after the image of the bassinette, I laughed out loud. By the time I’d written the first two paragraphs, I was delighted with Quinn’s voice and knew he could carry the story.
AUTHORLINK: Ha! That’s brilliant. Thank you for leading us through that. Regarding characterization, many writing courses today encourage budding writers to create a thorough and detailed profile on each of their characters before they begin the story – whereas we understand you do not like to operate in this way.
“… I have in the ’90s become virulently anti-Freudian because I believe it’s all bunk…”
You said, “Though I was once a Freudian writer, showing how every character’s traumatic past shaped the person he became, I have in the ’90s become virulently anti-Freudian because I believe it’s all bunk, and dangerous bunk to boot. Freudian-colored writing – which is 99 percent of all fiction in this century – reduces every character to a victim on some level, and the writer who either consciously or unconsciously uses Freudian dogma to explain his characters’ motivations is reducing the mysterious complexity of the human mind to a monkey-simple cause-and-effect mechanism.”
We agree with you. Dickens, for example, defined his characters by their actions, their decisions and choices, and attitudes.
Do you still create your characters this way? Is it always left to chance and free will?
KOONTZ: Yes. I think that making a list of personality traits and an elaborate history is almost certain to result in an intricately painted mannequin rather than a character of significant depth. In real life, we don’t find ourselves in a bassinette with detailed written instructions on how we will develop and what eccentricities we will have. Or at least I didn’t. I was pretty much clueless well into my twenties. In life, we build our character with our actions and by our reactions to events, by our mistakes and successes. If a fictional person is allowed to develop as the story unfolds, this tends to result in a creation that is quirkier and more convincing. However, this almost requires that the writer not plot out the story before beginning, but instead let both character and story evolve from an initial premise. This can be scary, though not as scary as being invited to dinner by Kim Jong Un.
AUTHORLINK: No! As mentioned above, Quicksilver is super fun to read and has outstanding characterizations with laugh-out-loud scenes.
You once said, “I learned long ago that even in the darkest moments of life when you get past them, you can look back and see the humorous moments. I mean, human beings are an unconsciously absurd species, so there’s really humor in everything.” (Suspense Magazine, 29 April 2020). We totally agree.
When did you start inserting humor into your works of fiction? Or has there always been a slight ruefulness in all of them? Was that in the early days (the 70s) when you would use different pseudonyms to write in different genres?
“…there were a few reasons why my publisher insisted the book would kill my career.”
KOONTZ: I first got in trouble for it with Lightning, which I delivered in 1987. In fact, there were a few reasons why my publisher insisted the book would kill my career. I was told that including humor ensured that the suspense didn’t work. My answer was that if you could laugh with the characters, they were more appealing and more real, and you cared more about them, and therefore the suspense was heightened. I was also told that because the lead character was a child through the first quarter of the novel, no adult would read it, thinking it was a novel for middle-schoolers. Pretty much the same reason no one has ever read Oliver Twist or To Kill a Mockingbird. Then there was consternation that I killed off a lovable character in the middle of the story. I was a baaaaad boy. The publisher wanted to put the novel on the shelf for seven years and publish it only after my career as a best-seller was better established. My agent thought I should put on a dunce cap and sit on a stool in a corner until I fully grasped the extent of my folly. It was published with little support, but it did well, and the next book, Midnight, was my first number one on the bestseller list.
AUTHORLINK: Ha ha ha. Great. Let’s go back to the beginning. We understand your passion for books started as a way of escaping the reality of your home life. You came from a poor family, and your father was a violent alcoholic – eventually being diagnosed as a sociopath. It wasn’t until your 30s that you realized that you associated books with “stability and peace….” We can relate.
“Books were both an escape and a lesson that other lives were different. They showed me the level of success the world offered. And that was plenty of motivation to change my destiny.” (Harvard Business Review, From the Magazine, March–April 2020).
Do you read a lot of books while you’re writing?
Describe your ideal reading experience (when, where, what, how)?
And to borrow from New York Times Books, what book should everybody read before the age of 21? What book should nobody read until the age of 40?
KOONTZ: There were no books in our house. If I hadn’t been drawn to the town library by an almost mystical compulsion when I was nine, if I’d never fallen into the pleasure of books, I don’t know what would have become of me. I’d probably have become a drunk by the age of ten (like father, like son), robbed my first 7-Eleven that same year, been on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List – Dean “Mad Dog” Koontz – by the time I was twelve for hijacking an airliner, receiving a ransom of $900 (a huge sum for a kid whose allowance was a dollar a week), and parachuting out of the plane in mid-flight with a beer and a bag of peanuts.
Every reading experience is fabulous if the book is so good that it transports me. It doesn’t matter when or where I’m reading it – though I prefer a comfortable chair in the quiet of home rather than being on a hurricane-tossed cruise ship with hundreds of seasick passengers who are projectile vomiting.
Read The Catcher in the Rye before 21, when Holden Caulfield’s voice will seem enthralling or at least appealing, because by the time you’ve grown into a complete adult, Holden will sound like a whining, snarky, neurotic, spoiled child of privilege, and you won’t enjoy him so much. Don’t read James Joyce’s Ulysses until you’re at least forty, have begun to suffer from insomnia, and need a cure.
AUTHORLINK: Thanks ‘Mad Dog’ 😊. Did you have any fears or roadblocks on the road to publishing?
“Throughout my career, until recently, I was continually told that my books would never hit big…”
“Throughout my career, until recently, I was continually told that my books would never hit big, that I couldn’t mix genres the way I did, that my stories were too eccentric, that my vocabulary was too large and therefore limited the potential size of my audience, that even the very subtle spiritual elements in my work were too prominent and would bore or flat out offend modern readers, that readers didn’t want stories with as much thematic freight as mine carried . . . blah, blah, blah.” (Strange Horizons, 28 April 2008). Did these times upset you or worry you?
Is it possible that the industry has changed and flexed and become flexible in the last ten years that suddenly your books fit right in? Is it a bit about timing as well?
“Roadblocks were numerous. They still are; they’re just different now.”
KOONTZ: Roadblocks were numerous. They still are; they’re just different now. I always advise young writers not to scope the market, not to write what’s wildly popular at the moment, just because it’s popular or because it’s what they think the market wants, but to write what they’re passionate about, what excites them both as writers and readers, even if it seems no one is publishing anything like it. You have a better chance of breaking big if your voice and subject matter are unique. I recently realized I should also warn them that this will result in more of a struggle to build a career than they might otherwise face. But it also provides greater creative satisfaction and pleasure at the keyboard.
AUTHORLINK: Wonderful advice. In connection with the question above, your novels are billed as suspense thrillers – but frequently incorporate elements of horror, fantasy, the supernatural, science fiction, mystery, romance, and satire – and thus genre blend.
Back in the 70s and 80s, there was considerable resistance to you mixing your genres, as it was “more difficult to market a book that way,” but you persevered. In fact, you were encouraged to use pen names after several editors convinced you that authors who switched back and forth between different genres invariably fell victim to “negative crossover” (where you might put off existing fans as well as fail to pick up new ones).
Yet you practically invented the cross-genre and paved the way for many authors to follow suit, we’re confident, much to their gratitude. In todays’ publishing climate, it’s almost better if the genre of the book is mixed!
Are there any genres out there that you like, but haven’t tried, but that you might like to?
KOONTZ: I’ve never written a Western, though as a reader I have always much admired Elmer Kelton, Larry McMurtry, and others who have done great work in that form. Maybe I have been reluctant because every time I’ve ever tried to ride a horse, I’ve fallen off as if some guiding power in the universe is advising me against the genre.
AUTHORLINK: Brilliant. About the above question, when the first of your books hit the best sellers list, Midnight, your publisher said to you (apparently), “Now you must understand: You do not write the kind of books that can be number one, and this will never happen again.” You had four number-one books after that, with the same publisher, and she said the same thing every time.
What was it about your books, at that time, that your publisher thought you were unable to have a second, third, or even a fourth number one? And what in your opinion was their magic ingredient that proved her wrong?
KOONTZ: All of the things we talked about above – cross-genre, large vocabulary, themes that are “too complex,” humor detracting from suspense, etcetera. She was a very talented publisher who had a lot of success, but she believed that a writer should pretty much stay within the rails defined by whatever his or her first big success was. For better or worse, I couldn’t do that. I read and love all kinds of fiction. I wanted to combine genres, to write in all the genres that I enjoyed – and I wanted the books to be labeled “fiction,” nothing else, whereas the common wisdom of publishing at that time was that there had to be some other tag that would bring in an existing block of readers. I always thought it was sad that I had to leave that publishing house because if we could have reached an understanding if they would have properly promoted and advertised the books, I believe we would have done even much better than we did. There were always weeks at a time, during the first two months of publication when stores were sold out and the reprints moved through the pipeline at an excruciatingly slow pace because of the publisher’s lack of faith in the book.
AUTHORLINK: That must have been so difficult at the time. Being emotionally robust was surely required. You made some changes with your agents and publishers throughout your career, “not out of agitation or anger but just when it became apparent that change was necessary…”
In the meantime, it took you 18 years to reach the best-sellers list. Would you say the two camps are connected? Nowadays, authors can hardly publish more than one or two books without being dropped for lack of sales.
Having finally reached the pinnacle of satisfaction with your own team, what kind of advice would you offer to agents and publishers out there?
KOONTZ: First, it was largely my own fault that I took all those years (and all those books) to reach the best-seller lists. My confidence in my abilities was not what it should have been, and I kept my sights low, aiming only for what I was sure I could achieve. I was too slow to take creative risks. Eventually, I’ve come to realize that this was the consequence of having navigated childhood and adolescence in constant humiliation related to my father’s alcoholism, gambling, womanizing, bar fighting, inability to keep a job, and extravagant boasting – all of which was widely known in our small town. Unconsciously, I operated on the absurd assumption that everyone in my new life, my publishing life, knew about my father and that I had grown up in a ramshackle house that didn’t have indoor plumbing until I was eleven. We can be our own worst enemy.
My first agent was a grifter. My second agent was a great guy, and I liked him very much as a person, but just when I finally understood that I should – and could – reach for a higher prize, he insisted I should stick with being a midlist writer because I’d waste my time trying for better things. I had enormous affection for my third agent. I stayed with her 14 years, through all the bestsellers I had at Putnam – until I came to suspect that either she was unaware of what terms I should be receiving or represented the publisher more than she did me. When she was unable – in fact, refused – to answer my concerns, I changed agents, whereupon my advances tripled, and my royalty rate doubled. My fourth agent was a whiz at negotiation, but during the years we were together, I found that he could not help address other issues (such as under printing to retail orders and down-market packaging) that became major problems. After 14 years with him, I went without an agent for more than 12 years and negotiated for myself. Finally, with the encouragement of my entertainment-law attorney, Richard Heller, I signed with Richard Pine and Kim Witherspoon at Inkwell Management and found the enthusiasm, savvy, and commitment that had so long eluded me.
“…when you’re dealing with people who are steeped in negativity, you’ll never get anywhere.”
Advice to writers about agents and publishers? When you’re always being told that some reasonable goal you’re shooting for is unattainable, or when they strenuously resist some sensible change you’d hope to effect in your “brand” (I hate that word) – in short, when you’re dealing with people who are steeped in negativity, you’ll never get anywhere. Out of personal affection and loyalty, I wasted many years, stuck in neutral – a very profitable neutral in some cases, but neutral nonetheless.
AUTHORLINK: So, over the years, you had a few agents that might not have been acting in your best interests and that you allowed your feelings to smother your business instinct.
Concerning the changes in the publishing industry, with the rise of the e-book in the last ten years, you said in 2019, “There were once I think 500 distributors of paperbacks, and now it’s down to four or five. A lot of publishers never quite grasped the rise of eBooks. So last year, my agents made the argument that I would probably sell more books with Amazon than with anybody else. And one of the key things was its marketing proposal. We looked at eight publishers, and some of them came with a one-page plan. Others came with eight or 10 pages. The Amazon plan was around 30 and impressive and thoughtful. So we did a contract for five books.”
Have you any regrets?
Why would traditional publishing houses consider this a ‘sell out? Books are written to be published – we don’t understand why it would be.
KOONTZ: It’s strange not to be in most bookstores, and it’s strange that sales of books published by Amazon are not counted for most best-seller lists. But I knew that going into the deal. Regrets? Given the condition of contemporary publishing, I have not the slightest regret. A decade ago or more, publishers were telling me that the mass market paperback would have to go because “its price point is too low,” and that eighty or ninety percent of the reading public could be brought along to pay $16 and more for trade paperbacks, instead of $8 or $10 for the smaller format. This struck me as delusional and self-destructive. Reasonably priced mass-market paperbacks led many readers into hardcovers; they were the birthing ground of new generations of readers. It seemed obvious to me that few people accustomed to paying $8 and $10 would go for the higher-priced format. The consequences of the engineered collapse of the mass market have been terrible; long-term consequences will be worse. eBooks have helped, but I’d guess they have replaced maybe only 30% of mass-market sales.
What I’ve found at Thomas & Mercer (Amazon) is a team of personable, highly creative, enthusiastic, and positive people who think outside the box and produce books that are better made and more attractive than most of what we’re seeing from the legacy publishers. As a result, I have been inspired and am more creative than I’ve been in years. If I had any regrets, I wouldn’t have signed a new 5-book contract, and I have. I delivered the first, which I think is one of the best things I’ve ever done, and I’m having a grand time with the second, which is half done.
AUTHORLINK: This is so informative, thank you. Would you say it is harder for new writers to convince publishers that they can build an audience by the merit of their individualistic style, intent, and theme, as ever it was? Or has this changed from, say, ten years ago?
What advice would you give to struggling authors trying to break into the current industry, other than to write the book they would love to read and not write something trying to capture the zeitgeist?
“…what a struggling writer needs to break through is a fresh Big Idea written with energy and style.”
KOONTZ: It’s harder to break through without a thriving mass-market format that was so forgiving that it would allow writers to have numerous misfires as they found their way to what worked. I don’t think it’s helped that publishers have issued so many novels from book packagers, with cowriters actually producing the work that bears a star name, or that they publish much else with an eye on celebrity-sponsored or TV-network-sponsored book clubs, which tend to go for relatively bland fiction. In the face of this slough, I think more than ever what a struggling writer needs to break through is a fresh Big Idea written with energy and style.
AUTHORLINK: Great advice! We understand you used to write from outlines, but when you started to write Strangers, you decided not to do an overview and just start with the premise and a couple of interesting characters who operated on free will – not puppetry.
We love how you said this, “Characters can take over, and they will take books to better places than they would have gone if you’d set a template and written everything according to it.” (Harvard Business Review, From the Magazine, March–April 2020)
In what other ways do you think ‘winging’ it turns out a better story? How often do you have a premise, start writing, tap into the ‘flow,’ then disregard it entirely for want of a fresher choice?
Do you ever paint yourself into a corner?
” You can’t be in the habit of putting aside a story when you bump into a problem with the narrative.”
KOONTZ: You can’t be in the habit of putting aside a story when you bump into a problem with the narrative. There will always be problems. You have to hang in there and work through them. If you paint yourself into a corner over and over again and can’t find an exit, maybe you don’t possess a writer’s imagination and should consider another career. Don’t take a job as a painter, either.
AUTHORLINK: Ha! Noted. This is advice that resonates with us. Your writing day is well known. You start at 6.30 in the morning and do not stop until dinner. You go without lunch to not become ‘fuzzy’ minded, which allows you to fall more entirely into the story and the characters. You also have no internet in your office, so you can avoid that rabbit hole. You have assistants who research certain subjects for you that you review later. (Being your assistant sounds like a fantastic job. May I apply if there are any vacancies? I love researching!).
On good days, you “might wind up with five or six pages of finished work; on bad days, a third of a page.” Do you feel depressed or upset when you come away after a ten-hour day with a third of a page?
After you finish a book, how much time do you allow yourself to start a new one? If you’re working around 10 hours a day, six days a week, when do you have time to research, answer letters, have some fun, or do publicity? Do you have time for any hobbies?
“A third of a page that really sings is a small triumph.”
KOONTZ: I don’t get depressed about anything other than politics! A third of a page that really sings is a small triumph. Some days, when I’m in a flow state, I can end the day with eight or even ten pages. So if I can average 4 pages a day, I will finish a 100,000-word novel in four months. I do the research as I write. There are a few thousand volumes in my research library, and I have an uncanny knack for knowing where to find what I need in a few minutes. When online research is required, my assistant does it while I write (and, by the way, she will kill to prevent an encroaching researcher from taking her job). Ten hours per day of work and six hours of sleep, leaves eight hours for fun. I usually take two or three weeks between books. The closest either Gerda or I come to a hobby is collecting art and playing with the dog. Although writing is hard work, it is also play, so that a hobby seems superfluous.
AUTHORLINK: Understood! 😊 We really loved the mystique about this writing tip you shared… “Because I don’t do a quick first draft and then revise it, I have plenty of time to let the subconscious work; therefore, I am led to surprise after surprise that enriches the story and deepens character. I have a low boredom threshold, and in part, I suspect I fell into this method of working to keep myself mystified about the direction of the piece–and therefore entertained.” (Novel Rocket, 26 October 2007)
How long did it take you to come to this method of working? We imagined it was an organic process over several years. Do you still work this way today?
KOONTZ: I wrote and sold work for eighteen years before I started this new approach with Strangers in 1985. The change happened from one book to the next, and I’ve been working this way for 38 years.
AUTHORLINK: If you could go back in time and have a chat with your younger self, what advice would you give?
KOONTZ: I’d go back to 1963 and tell myself, “When the late 1960s roll around, don’t be photographed with David Crosby hair and mustache, wearing granny glasses, a goin’-to-San-Francisco flowered shirt, and bellbottoms, with a lava lamp visible in the shot. This will lead to decades of mockery.”
AUTHORLINK: Hahaha! You’re the best. You mentioned once that all your “proudest moments are the same – those books of mine that delight my wife, Gerda. I trust her judgment. And just as I wrote love notes and poems to her when we were dating, I write each book primarily with the hope of enchanting her.” (Book page). That is so utterly romantic.
We understand Gerda, who you deeply admire, is your first reader and your toughest yet fairest critic. She was your high school sweetheart, and you married her in 1966 when you were 21 and have been happily married ever since.
What is your secret for those of us who are not so happy in love?
KOONTZ: We have the same sense of humor and find at least a soupcon of amusement in even the darkest times. We don’t take ourselves too seriously. It’s difficult to sustain an argument when we’re laughing at ourselves. We both perceive a spiritual side to life, are drawn to the same people as friends, love dogs, have the same work ethic, and have a deep aversion to wearing Bermuda shorts.
AUTHORLINK: Many of your books were turned into films, even though you never think of movies when you write your books. Which are some of your favorites and least favorites? Are there any in the works?
Your screenplay for the Frankenstein series headed for production, especially when Martin Scorsese read it and came on as a producer. Then the network decided to change it and turn it into a “misogynistic grunge.” Consequently, you asked your attorney to get them to remove the writing, producing, and “created by” credits. Incredibly, you spent more in legal fees, trying to have your name removed from the project than the studio paid for the film rights, just as you did with the film Hideaway that TriStar released.
In the case of Frankenstein, Mr. Scorsese subsequently sent you a supportive letter decrying what had happened and saying that if he had been directing, he would have shot the original script without a change. (The Lineup, 6 October 2020). That must have been comforting. How can writers avoid this happening in the future? Is it simply a matter of contract law?
“I now know that in the film and TV business, it can always go wrong…”
KOONTZ: If I sell rights with no desire to write the script or have input, then whatever they do to the material won’t bother me. But when I have written the screenplay or made a deal in which I’ve been promised serious control, and if then they don’t live up to the agreement, I feel as if I have been betrayed, largely because I have been betrayed. In those cases, when the result has been crap, I wanted my name removed from the project at any cost. In the case of the Frankenstein series, I wrote the original script and expanded it to two hours at the studio’s request. Of all the people involved, Marty was the only one with scruples, and he has buckets and buckets of scruples. He’s a very nice man. When he came on the project, based on the script, I thought, “Wow, we have an 800-pound gorilla. This can’t go wrong.” I now know that in the film and TV business, it can always go wrong, even if you have an 800-pound gorilla, a two-ton rhinoceros, and a pissed-off pterodactyl on your team.
Of all the projects that were filmed, the best was Odd Thomas, thanks to Steve Sommers, the writer/director. But the rug, the floor, and the very foundation were pulled out from under Steve in the middle of filming, and he was never able to realize much of the brilliant stuff in his screenplay. That he got it finished at all was astonishing.
I like the TV movie of The Face of Fear, largely thanks to the director, Farhad Mann. The Intensity miniseries was okay, especially Molly Parker’s performance, but with a TV budget, only about 20% of the book ended up on the screen. There were many things to like in Phantoms, but its pace was too often sluggish; thank you, Bob Weinstein. Peter O’Toole was a sweetheart and called me on a few occasions to chat, once to read some of the dialogue I’d written, so that “at least once you’ll have it delivered as you wrote it.” Demon Seed also had some cool stuff, not least of all Julie Christie. But I’ve never been fortunate enough to have a project be done with the kind of budget that could realize the vision.
We have five TV series in development at the moment, and TV now has much bigger budgets than once was the case. We’re also working with some first-rate talents, so I remain hopeful.
How do you avoid all the trap doors to disaster in Hollywood? You can’t. Having the right agents and production partners matters a lot. But luck plays a huge role.
AUTHORLINK: What an unbelievably varied and rich career you have had. We would love to see Quicksilver on the big screen. If it was ever to become a major motion picture, which actors could you see playing the lead characters, Quinn, Bridget, and Sparky?
KOONTZ: I’m no good at casting. Just so no one turns it into an animated film in which all three lead characters are muskrats.
AUTHORLINK: Hahaha! We understand you never discuss what you’re currently writing as “talking about a book diminishes the desire to write it.” Is that still the case? In any event, without telling us too much about the details, what are you working on now? Are we allowed to know the genre(s)?
We note you recently signed a new five-book contract and delivered the first book. Would that be The Big Dark Sky?
Have you started your long-desired memoir to allow us mere mortals the chance to learn of the trajectory of your success, what you once described as a ‘long hard road’?
KOONTZ: The Big Dark Sky was the last book on my first contract with Thomas & Mercer. The first book under the new five-book contract was delivered, and it’s one of my personal favorites of my books. It’s called The House at the End of the World. It’s a very scary story with high emotional content.
I’ve been fiddling with a memoir for years. I think I’ll get serious about it later this year. I’m not sure my life has had enough excitement in it to justify a memoir, so to give the book more pizzaz, I plan to take up racing monster trucks, wrestling alligators, and devising an evil conspiracy to take over the world.
AUTHORLINK: To conclude, we hope you might be entertained by the following lighthearted questions: –
- If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
Odd Thomas to Jimmy Tock from Life Expectancy. They would have a lot of hilarious adventures together.
- You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which three writers, dead or alive, do you invite?
I would have no appetite if I had to have dinner with the dead.
- What book might people be surprised to find on your shelves?
If you love books, no volume should ever seem out of place in any collection.
AUTHORLINK: Mr. Koontz, thank you for your time today. It was so much fun talking to you. Our readers and your fans will be laughing out loud like we were. They will be delighted, we are positive, to read your insights on Quicksilver and your writing process. We are so grateful for the opportunity and wish you and Gerda, the very best for your future and your continued, dazzling success!
KOONTZ: Live long and prosper.
AUTHORLINK: Thank you. Doing our best.
About the Author: When he was a senior in college, Dean Koontz won an Atlantic Monthly fiction competition and has been writing ever since. His books are published in 38 languages and he has sold over 500 million copies to date.
Fourteen of his novels have risen to number one on the New York Times hardcover bestseller list (One Door Away From Heaven, From the Corner of His Eye, Midnight, Cold Fire, The Bad Place, Hideaway, Dragon Tears, Intensity, Sole Survivor, The Husband, Odd Hours, Relentless, What the Night Knows, and 77 Shadow Street), making him one of only a dozen writers ever to have achieved that milestone. Sixteen of his books have risen to the number one position in paperback. His books have also been major bestsellers in countries as diverse as Japan and Sweden.
The New York Times has called his writing “psychologically complex, masterly and satisfying.” The New Orleans Times-Picayune said Koontz is, “at times lyrical without ever being naive or romantic. [He creates] a grotesque world, much like that of Flannery O’Conner or Walker Percy … scary, worthwhile reading.” Rolling Stone has hailed him as “America’s most popular suspense novelist.”
Dean Koontz was born and raised in Pennsylvania. He graduated from Shippensburg State College (now Shippensburg University), and his first job after graduation was with the Appalachian Poverty Program, where he was expected to counsel and tutor underprivileged children on a one-to-one basis. His first day on the job, he discovered that the previous occupier of his position had been beaten up by the very kids he had been trying to help and had landed in the hospital for several weeks. The following year was filled with challenge but also tension, and Koontz was more highly motivated than ever to build a career as a writer. He wrote nights and weekends, which he continued to do after leaving the poverty program and going to work as an English teacher in a suburban school district outside Harrisburg. After a year and a half in that position, his wife, Gerda, made him an offer he couldn’t refuse: “I’ll support you for five years,” she said, “and if you can’t make it as a writer in that time, you’ll never make it.” By the end of those five years, Gerda had quit her job to run the business end of her husband’s writing career.
Dean Koontz lives in Southern California with his wife, Gerda, their golden retriever, Elsa, and the enduring spirit of their goldens, Trixie and Anna.
You can find out more about Dean Koontz at https://www.deankoontz.com/
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