Dean Koontz: A Writer's Biography

Dean Koontz: A Writer's Biography

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by Katherine M. Ramsland
     
 

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One of today's most popular writers, author of some 70 novels, including many New York Times bestsellers, Dean Koontz has never fully revealed one of his most dramatic stories: his own. Critically acclaimed biographer Katherine Ramsland now undertakes that task.

From his difficult childhood in rural Pennsylvania, to his years as a school teacher striving to get

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Overview

One of today's most popular writers, author of some 70 novels, including many New York Times bestsellers, Dean Koontz has never fully revealed one of his most dramatic stories: his own. Critically acclaimed biographer Katherine Ramsland now undertakes that task.

From his difficult childhood in rural Pennsylvania, to his years as a school teacher striving to get published, to his spectacular breakthrough to worldwide literary fame, Dean Koontz' life has been filled with struggle. Yet he developed the tenacity, vision and business savvy to make himself succeed. He also married an amazingly supportive and resourceful woman.

Although he studied the classics and often utilizes a literary approach, Koontz initially worked in genre fiction, meeting with early success under an astonishing variety of pseudonyms in science fiction, fantasy, gothic romance, capers, how-to books and international thrillers. When he moved on to writing mainstream suspense, he began to develop what has come to be recognized as his unique cross-genre style.

Through it all, Kootnz worked out the childhood torment of having an abusive, alcoholic father who was ultimately diagnosed as mentally ill. An only child whose mother was afflicted with much illness, Koontz had to develop his own psychological survival strategies. As he matured, this unrelenting childhood struggle to protect himself gave him a special sensitivity to the politics of the individual. He used his writing, no matter what the subject, to entertain but also to explore both the dark and light sides of the human heart, to champion the rights of the individuals over those of institutions. In an age of widespread cynicism, each of Koontz' novels insists that those who embrace friendship, love, faith and an unwavering commitment to freedom will inevitably win out over those who are motivated by power, envy and greed.

And through it all, Dean Koontz was troubled by the secret his mother had tried to tell him before she died. What was the key to his father's rages, the mysterious tempests that haunted the family and inspired the monsters in Koontz' novels? Was Ray Koontz even his father?

More perhaps than any other writer today, Dean Koontz embodies in his own life and work the chiaroscuro contradictions, the glaring light and moody darkness, of modern America. Ruthlessly honest, ambitious and ready to experiment, he has fearlessly delved into every corner of his own psyche, and it is this artistic integrity and its application to larger social issues that has endeared his work to millions.

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Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Florence H. Munat
This lengthy biography describes the most minute details of this best-selling author's life, and also summarizes the plot of every novel he has written, a list that includes science fiction, fantasy, erotica, gothic romances, thrillers, horror, suspense, and "cross-genres"-a Koontz specialty. After each plot summary, the books are analyzed, with an emphasis on what Ramsland calls "psychobiography," or the examination of fiction for the ways in which an author's themes, characters, etc., are reflected in his own life. In Koontz's case, the problems of his childhood seem to be related to his characters' struggles to find happiness and order in the universe. Koontz grew up in Bedford, Pennsylvania, in a tense, unstable home created by his alcoholic, schizophrenic father. According to Ramsland, the unpredictability of those early years influenced Koontz's writing, which almost always centers around a character struggling against the dark forces of evil and chaos, eventually emerging triumphant. The descriptions of the first half of his life become brain-numbingly boring at times. (Do we really need to know that his first-grade teacher remembers that Dean was "quiet and shy." And "a good student," and not yet creative, but then "he was young"?) When discussing his writing years, the book becomes more consequential and interesting. We see how Koontz persevered over piles of rejection slips and dedicated himself to hours of writing each day, and, now that he has achieved success, how tenacious he has to be to continue writing successful fiction while also challenging himself as a writer. This is not riveting biography that will captivate all readers; it is too dense and descriptive (as opposed to interpretative) to have that kind of broad appeal. Koontz fans, though, will surely delight in it. Index. Photos. Biblio. Chronology. VOYA Codes: 3Q 2P S (Readable without serious defects, For the YA with a special interest in the subject, Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061052712
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
11/28/1997
Pages:
528
Product dimensions:
6.46(w) x 9.57(h) x 1.78(d)

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