Authors: Dean R. Koontz

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

American novelist

Author Works

Long Fiction:

Star Quest, 1968

Fall of the Dream Machine, 1969

Fear That Man, 1969

Anti-man, 1970

Beastchild, 1970

The Dark Symphony, 1970

Dark of the Woods, 1970

Hell’s Gate, 1970

The Crimson Witch, 1971

The Demon Child, 1971 (as Deanna Dwyer)

Legacy of Terror, 1971 (as Deanna Dwyer)

A Darkness in My Soul, 1972

The Flesh in the Furnace, 1972

Starblood, 1972

Time Thieves, 1972

Warlock, 1972

Children of the Storm, 1972 (as Deanna Dwyer)

The Dark of Summer, 1972 (as Deanna Dwyer)

Chase, 1972 (as K. R. Dwyer)

Demon Seed, 1973

Hanging On, 1973

The Haunted Earth, 1973

A Werewolf Among Us, 1973

Blood Risk, 1973 (as Brian Coffey)

Dance with the Devil, 1973 (as Deanna Dwyer)

Shattered, 1973 (as K. R. Dwyer)

After the Last Race, 1974

Surrounded, 1974 (as Coffey)

Strike Deep, 1974 (as Anthony North; also known as Winter Moon, 1994)

Nightmare Journey, 1975

The Wall of Masks, 1975 (as Coffey)

Dragonfly, 1975 (as K. R. Dwyer)

The Long Sleep, 1975 (as John Hill)

Invasion, 1975 (as Aaron Wolfe)

Night Chills, 1976

Prison of Ice, 1976 (as David Axton; revised as Icebound, 1995)

The Vision, 1977

The Face of Fear, 1977 (as Coffey)

The Key to Midnight, 1979 (as Leigh Nichols)

Whispers, 1980

The Funhouse: Carnival of Terror, 1980, revised 1992 (as Owen West)

The Voice of the Night, 1981 (as Coffey)

The Eyes of Darkness, 1981 (as Nichols)

The Mask, 1981 (as West)

Heartbeeps, 1981 (as Hill)

The House of Thunder, 1982 (as Nichols)

Phantoms, 1983

Darkfall, 1984 (pb. in England as Darkness Comes)

Twilight, 1984 (as Nichols; also known as The Servants of Darkness, 1988)

Twilight Eyes, 1985

The Door to December, 1985 (as Richard Paige)

Strangers, 1986

Watchers, 1987

Shadowfires, 1987 (as Nichols)

Lightening, 1988

Midnight, 1989

The Bad Place, 1990

Cold Fire, 1991

Three Complete Novels, 1991 (includes Twilight, Darkfall, Phantoms)

Hideaway, 1992

Dragon Tears, 1993

Mr. Murder, 1993

Dark Rivers of the Heart, 1994

Tick-Tock, 1995

Intensity, 1995

Sole Survivor, 1997

Fear Nothing, 1998

Seize the Night, 1999

False Memory, 1999

From the Corner of His Eye, 2000

One Door Away from Heaven, 2001

By the Light of the Moon, 2002

The Face, 2003

Short Fiction:

Soft Come the Dragons, 1970 (as Owen West)

Strange Highways, 1995

Screenplay:

Phantoms, 1998 (adaptation of his novel)

Poetry:

The Time, the Place, 1969

Selected Poems, 1971

The Paper Doorway: Funny Verse and Nothing Worse, 2001

Nonfiction:

Bounce Girl, 1970 (with Gerda Koontz)

The Pig Society, 1970 (with Gerda Koontz)

The Underground Lifestyles Handbook, 1970 (with Gerda Koontz)

Writing Popular Fiction, 1973

How to Write Best-Selling Fiction, 1981

Edited Text:

Night Visions 6, 1988 (with Paul Mikol)

Biography

Dean Ray Koontz is one of the United States’ most prolific modern authors. He was born on July 9, 1945, the only child of Ray and Florence (called Molly) Koontz. He was raised in Everett, Pennsylvania. From his fifth year, the family lived in a four-room shack built by his grandfather. It had a leaky, tar-paper roof and no indoor plumbing until Koontz was nine or ten. His childhood was not happy, as his father was an alcoholic and a philanderer, did not have regular work, was given to violence, and was in later life diagnosed as a borderline schizophrenic. As a result, there was a daily worry as to whether there would be somewhere to live or enough food to eat; books were not a priority. (In later life, though, Koontz would accumulate a vast library.) His mother, a talented musician, tried to protect him. She died at the age of fifty-three. Despite these problems, Koontz supported his father for the last fifteen years of his life before he died at age eighty-one. Koontz’s early experiences gave him the insight to write about his troubled characters with sympathy, many of them having been troubled children. Often his novels, whatever the genre, deal with real issues like the ones he faced.{$I[A]Koontz, Dean R.}{$S[A]Axton, David;Koontz, Dean R.}{$S[A]Coffey, Brian;Koontz, Dean R.}{$S[A]Dwyer, Deanna;Koontz, Dean R.}{$S[A]Dwyer, K. R.;Koontz, Dean R.}{$S[A]Hill, John;Koontz, Dean R.}{$S[A]Nichols, Leigh;Koontz, Dean R.}{$S[A]North, Anthony;Koontz, Dean R.}{$S[A]Page, Richard;Koontz, Dean R.}{$S[A]West, Owen;Koontz, Dean R.}{$S[A]Wolfe, Aaron;Koontz, Dean R.}{$I[geo]UNITED STATES;Koontz, Dean R.}{$I[tim]1945;Koontz, Dean R.}

Dean R. Koontz

(©Jerry Bauer)

Because of his home life, Koontz became a voracious reader and includes Theodore Sturgeon, Charles Dickens, Robert Heinlein, and Ray Bradbury among his favorite authors. As three of these are science-fiction writers, it is not surprising that his earliest attempts at writing were science fiction. At a young age, he created books by writing stories on tablet paper, drawing the covers, and stapling them together. The results were sold to family members.

Koontz was educated at Shippensburg State College, gaining a B.A. in English in 1966. That year he married Gerda Cerra, whom he had met at high school in Bedford, Pennsylvania, four years earlier. The same year, at the age of twenty, he won a short-story competition run by The Atlantic Monthly for a story called “The Kittens.”

After graduating from college, he worked as a teacher and counselor for the Appalachian Poverty Program (1966-1967), where he attempted to educate and counsel potentially gifted children from poor families. During this time he sold stories to F&SF: The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Between 1967 and 1969 he taught English at a high school in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. In 1968 he sold his first science-fiction novel, Star Quest, to Ace publishers. By the following year Koontz had sold three novels, including Fear That Man and The Fall of the Dream Machine, as well as more than twenty short stories. On the strength of this, his wife, Gerda, offered to support him as a full-time writer for five years. This was in 1970, when he was still only twenty-five.

In 1971, his novella Beastchild was nominated for a Hugo Award, the most prestigious award in the science fiction, voted on by the readers of the genre. Several of his later books and stories were also nominated for awards. The following year, as well as the appearance of four more science fiction novels, he sold his first pseudonymous work, the suspense novel Chase, which was published by Random House under the byline of “K. R. Dwyer.” From then on, he sold a string of other titles, nearly all of which appeared under pseudonyms because he was writing in radically different genres, such as suspense, horror, and gothic. Pseudonyms he has used include David Axton, Brian Coffey, Deanna Dwyer, John Hill, Leigh Nichols, Anthony North, Richard Paige, Owen West, and Aaron Wolfe. Later he would republish much of his pseudonymous work under his own name. His success meant that in 1975, Gerda was able to give up her job as a receptionist to work for Koontz full time, handling the ten thousand fan letters he receives each year and assisting in research. In 1976 they moved to Southern California.

During the early years of his career, while he was dabbling with everything from fantasy to gothic romance, he was edging toward the suspense genre, with works such as Chase and A Werewolf Among Us. Publishers were beginning to label him a science-fiction writer, especially after his 1973 novel Demon Seed (in which a woman is terrorized by an intelligent computer with ideas of world domination) was filmed with Julie Christie as the star. Nevertheless, he increasingly set novels in the real world. Night Chills deals with mind manipulation, and his 1977 novels, The Face of Fear and The Vision, are believable portraits of insane characters. Koontz was a prolific journeyman writer in the various genres but was receiving low advances and relatively little recognition. A number of his other books have been filmed but he has often been unhappy with the treatment, something he was able to remedy by writing the screenplay for Phantoms when it was filmed in 1998.

In 1979, he created his most successful pseudonym, Leigh Nichols. Under this byline he wrote romantic mysteries, entering American best-seller lists with The Key to Midnight. The first best-seller under his own name was Whispers, which brought him to the attention of a wider audience, and subsequent novels showed increased sales. Since then, Koontz has become one of the big names in popular fiction worldwide, with enough commercial clout to command substantial advances. Another indication of his popularity can be seen in the increasing number of limited or special editions of his work. His books have been published in thirty-eight languages. Koontz is a member of the Science Fiction Writers and Fantasy of America and was elected the first president of the Horror Writers Association in 1986-1987.

BibliographyGreenberg, Martin. The Dean Koontz Companion. Riverside, Calif.: Berkley Trade, 1994. Includes interviews with Koontz as well as essays on topics ranging from film versions of his work to the idiosyncrasies of his style. Kotker, Joan G. Dean Koontz: A Critical Companion. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1996. Examines each of Koontz’s novels in terms of genre, theme, setting, plot, and character development. Provides conventional and alternative readings of his works.Koontz, Dean. How to Write Best-Selling Fiction. Cincinnati, Ohio: Writer’s Digest Books, 1972. Koontz’s advice to writers sheds light on his own writing.Koontz, Dean. Writing Popular Fiction. Cincinnati, Ohio: Writer’s Digest Books, 1981. In describing how to write popular fiction, Koontz draws on his own experiences. Provides an insight into his works.Kotker, Joan G. Dean Koontz: A Critical Companion. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1996. Kotker examines Koontz’s mature fiction, focusing on novels such as Dark Rivers of the Heart, Intensity, Lighting, and Watchers, providing both conventional and alternative readings of each.Ramsland, Katherine. Dean Koontz: A Writer’s Biography. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997. This full-length biography presents Koontz’s life from the days of his childhood to the mid-1990’s. Ramsland draws parallels between Koontz’s writings and his life, sometimes to an illuminating effect.
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