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Dean Koontz biography




Dean Koontz

(1945 - )

Dean Ray Koontz (born July 9, 1945) is a prolific American author best known for his novels which could be described broadly as suspense thrillers. He also frequently incorporates elements of horror, science fiction, mystery, and satire. A number of his books have appeared on the New York Times Bestseller List, with ten hardcovers and fourteen paperbacks reaching the number one slot. Early in his career, Koontz wrote under an array of pen names, such as David Axton, Gerda Ann Cerra, and Brian Coffey.

Koontz was born on July 9, 1945, in Everett, Pennsylvania. He describes his youth as one of poverty under the abuse of a father who was more worried about his bacchanal acts rather than his own family.[citation needed] He graduated from Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania in 1967, and soon after went to work as an English teacher at Mechanicsburg High School in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. In the 1960s, Koontz worked for the Appalachian Poverty Program, a federally funded initiative designed to help poor children. 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.'"[2] 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."

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. He says he sees the Church as English writer and Roman Catholic convert G.K. Chesterton did. Koontz notes 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".

In the 1970s, Koontz began to grow a magnum publishing mainstream of 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. Many of Koontz's pseudonymous novels are now available under his real name.

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. 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 Demon Seed's success may have been an unmerited fluke, but 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 51st book Strangers. Since then, 10 hardcovers and 13 paperbacks written by Koontz have reached #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list.

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.

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. Koontz explained the change by claiming that he was tired of looking like G. Gordon Liddy.

Koontz has said he "tr[ies] not to spend too much time on partisan politics. Life's too short for that. I don't really believe that there have been many human problems solved by politics."He "complains that all politicians 'get corrupted by power;' and he admits to being at least 'semi-libertarian' on most issues." Since 1988, he has contributed almost $73,000 to conservative Republican candidates and causes. He donated to the 2008 US Presidential campaigns of Mitt Romney and John McCain. He and Mrs. Koontz have contributed over $138,000 to Republican candidates for federal office and Republican organizations (1991–2009). In 2005 he supported Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger with $5000 in cash donations and more than $100,000 for a fund-raising dinner for 123 guests.

Many of his novels are set in Newport Beach, California. As of 2006 he lives there with his wife, Gerda. In 2008 he was the world's sixth most highly paid author, tied with John Grisham at $25 million annually.

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. Originally a service dog with Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), a charitable organization that provides service dogs for people with disabilities. Trixie was a gift from CCI in gratitude of the Koontz's substantial donations, totalling $2,500,000 between 1991 and 2004. 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 when 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 Canine Companions for Independence. In 2007, Trixie contracted terminal cancer creating a tumor in her heart. The Koontzes had her put to sleep outside of their family home on June 30. After Trixie's death, Koontz has continued writing on his website under Trixie's names, in "TOTOS", standing for Trixie on the Other Side. 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.

Information source: wikipedia