As prolific a writer as the literary world has ever seen, Dean Koontz is a unique fella – a genuine person in a cut-throat industry.
Married for fifty years this October, the owner of ten pen names and the proud writer of a varied collection of New York Time bestsellers, Koontz has sold an estimated 450 million books (per his website). That is more than King (350 million), Stine (400 million), Grisham (200 million), Crichton (150 million) and Rice (100 million). Those are stunning stats for a writer who wrote his first novel in 1968 during his spare time from his actual job.
“I’m just the guy who lives down the street and I do books instead of sell cars”, Koontz once said in an interview. He prefers to stay at home, with his wife and beloved dog. He prefers not to fly and he doesn’t email – he’s well-known for sending back hand-written letters to the fans who send him thousands of letters each year. During the 1970’s, Koontz wrote up to eight books per year, namely in the suspense and horror genres after getting his start in science fiction.
Of course, none of this illustrious career would have been possible without the unwavering support from his wife, Gerda. Koontz had toiled as a high school English teacher for a year and a half when his wife offered him the deal of a lifetime – “I’ll support you for five years and if you can’t make it as a writer in that time, you’ll never make it.” When that five-year trial run was up, Gerda was able to quit her job to run the business end of her husband’s celebrated writing career.
Koontz has achieved success in a number of genres and has seen his most beloved character, Odd Thomas, enjoy a seven-book run that capped off in 2014 and also was made into a well-received film starring the late Anton Yelchin.
Outside of the Odd Thomas series, my personal favorite works of Koontz’s would be a tie between his Frankenstein series (a marvelous and sprawling story that is everything a re-imagining of a horror icon should be) and The Taken, the story of an alien visit that threatens all of humanity.
Koontz is a magician when it comes to characterization and building suspense, perhaps the best in the business. Koontz’s characters are so vividly described that the reader can almost smell their cologne. His settings are so descriptive, one can practically hear the floorboards creaking under the feet of the characters.
Forty-eight years have passed since Star Quest began Koontz’s career. With a loyal fan base and a fierce work ethic, here’s to another seventy-one years for one of the industry’s best – and most humble – gentlemen!