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Dean Ray Koontz (born July 9th, 1945 in Everett, Pennsylvania) is an American writer. He is best known as a prolific and best-selling fiction author of popular suspense novels.


Koontz grew up in desperate poverty under the tyranny of a violent alcoholic father. Despite his traumatic childhood, Koontz put himself through Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania (then known as Shippensburg State College), and in 1967 went to work as an English teacher at Mechanicsburg High School. In his spare time he wrote his first novel, Star Quest, which was published in 1968. From there he went on to write over a dozen more science fiction novels.

In the 1970s, Koontz began publishing mainstream suspense and horror fiction, under his own name as well as under several pen names. Koontz has stated he used pen names after several editors convinced him that authors who switched genre fell victim to "negative crossover": alienating established fans, while simultaneously not picking up any new fans. Known pseudonyms include Deanna Dwyer, K. R. Dwyer, Aaron Wolfe, David Axton, Brian Coffey, John Hill, Leigh Nichols, Owen West, Richard Paige, and Anthony North. As of 2006, some of those novels are sold under Koontz's real name.

Some of these efforts are deliberately being kept out of print: Koontz purchased publishing rights to some of his various early works which he considered sub-par. (There are still a few novels which Koontz has suggested he may revise and reissue, at least back in the "Dean Koontz Companion" written in the mid-1990's, but it seems unlikely that they will see print in the same form.)

Koontz's breakthrough novel finally came in the form of Whispers (1980). Since then, nine hardcovers and thirteen paperbacks written by Koontz have reached #1 on the New York Times bestseller list.

He has often quipped that he encourages fans to collect his novels and stories, as long as they don't actually read them.

As of 2006, Koontz resides in Newport Beach, a city in Southern California (most of his novels are set in Southern California) with his wife Gerda and their dog Trixie Koontz, under whose name he published the book, Life is Good: Lessons in Joyful Living, in 2004. Trixie is also often referenced in his official newsletter "Useless News".

Some fans speculate that Koontz may have had a hair transplant: early author photos show a balding Koontz with a mustache, as opposed to more recent ones that show a clean-shaven Koontz with a fuller head of hair. A Rolling Stone magazine profile on Koontz in the late 90's confirmed this -- he claimed he was tired of looking like G. Gordon Liddy.

Writings strengths and weaknesses

Koontz is renowned for his skill at writing suspenseful page-turners. His strengths also include memorable characters, original ideas, and the ability to blend horror, fantasy and humour. Koontz has been criticized for his tendency to include too many similes and therefore to drag out descriptions, and a tendency to moralize heavily, and his frequent use of similar plotting structures (see "Plot Staples and Formulas" below)

Plot staples and formulas

  • Koontz is an avid dog lover, and canines often feature prominently in his works: Fear Nothing, The Taking, Watchers, Dark Rivers of the Heart, and One Door Away from Heaven are prime examples. Cats have often fared worse in his books (Koontz is allergic to felines), though he has occasionally included cats as characters, most notably the smart cat Mungojerrie in the Christopher Snow novels.
  • Koontz's protagonists often arm themselves with guns to combat the various monsters and madmen that they deal with, and Koontz aims to provide accurate details of the firearms. (In Writing Popular Fiction he remarked that the one sin readers of Westerns will not forgive authors is gun errors.)
  • Koontz is also known for not normally recycling a character. The exceptions to date are Mike Tucker, art dealer and professional thief in "Blood Risk," "Surrounded," and "The Wall of Masks," all written under the pseudonym of Brian Coffey (these books make up the Black Bat Mystery series); Christopher Snow, the protagonist in "Fear Nothing," "Seize the Night," and the forthcoming "Ride the Storm" (these books make up the Moonlight Bay Trilogy); and Odd Thomas of "Odd Thomas," "Forever Odd," and the forthcoming "Brother Odd."
  • Some critics and readers discern a formula that is featured in many of Koontz's novels. Koontz's plots are likely to feature most, if not all, of these elements:
    • a setting in Southern California
    • a protagonist who has experienced an abusive childhood similar to Koontz's own; antagonists who have experienced the same
    • a noble dog of near-human intelligence (and, sometimes with paranormal powers)
    • references to an imminent apocalypse
    • an irredeemable sociopathic antagonist who is invariably destroyed by the story's end; usually someone who considers his or her psychopathy to be philosophically transcendent
    • a cat and mouse chase between antagonist and protagonist
    • references to the then-nonexistent Book of Counted Sorrows
    • a mixture of literary genres ("cross-genre writing") that blends elements of horror, science fiction, romance, and other popular forms. (Arguably, most of Koontz's work can be classified as science fiction, as he tries to create plausible, consistent explanations for the unusual, fantastic events featured in most of his novels.)
    • a theme that implies that brotherly love can save one from the apparent absurdity of existence and the cruelties of life
    • a theme that right-leaning and conventional ideas are virtuous
    • one or more subplots that are, at first, seemingly parallel but later merge, usually as the plot's romantic element emerges
    • a happy ending for the main character or characters

Film adaptations

Though many of Koontz's works have been adapted either as motion pictures or for television, Koontz is generally unhappy with most of these adaptations of his books--he has even denied (tongue in cheek) that the adaptations ever occured.

According to a 1996 interview, the so-called final straw occurred with the film adaptation of his book Hideaway. Koontz was so unhappy with the final cut that he had his standard contract modified to give him creative control over all subsequent films based on his books. Despite this fact, most later films over which he exercised creative control failed to garner his approval.

Adaptations that Koontz reportedly approves of include Watchers 2 in 1990 (not really a sequel to Watchers, but actually a much better adaptation more closely following the book), Watchers 3 (1994), Watchers Reborn (1998), Haute Tension (2003), and Frankenstein (2004). Koontz himself partly contributed to the screenplays of the last two films.

However, with the release of his newest novel "The Husband" in the summer of 2006 and its rights already having been optioned for the big screen, Koontz is optimistic. His confidence for this adaptation even prompted him to state, "It now does seem as if I’ll live long enough to see a first-rate film based on one of my books."



Out of print

  • Dragonfly as K. R. Dwyer)
  • The Long Sleep (1975, as John Hill)
  • Nightmare Journey (1975)
  • Wall of Masks (1975, as Brian Coffey)
  • After the Last Race (1974)
  • Surrounded (1974, as Brian Coffey)
  • Blood Risk (1973, as Brian Coffey)
  • Dance with the Devil (1973, as Deanna Dwyer)
  • Hanging On (1973)
  • The Haunted Earth (1973)
  • A Werewolf Among Us (1973)
  • Children of the Storm (1972, as Deanna Dwyer)
  • The Dark of Summer (1972, as Deanna Dwyer)
  • A Darkness in My Soul (1972)
  • Demon Child (1972, as Deanna Dwyer)
  • Starblood (1972)
  • Time Thieves (1972)
  • Warlock! (1972)
  • The Crimson Witch (1971)
  • Legacy of Terror (1971, as Deanna Dwyer)
  • Anti-Man (1970)
  • Beastchild (1970)
  • Dark of the Woods (1970)
  • Dark Symphony (1970)
  • Hell's Gate (1970)
  • The Fall of the Dream Machine (1969)
  • Fear That Man (1969)
  • Star Quest (1968)

Children's books


Essays and introductions


Short fiction

  • "Black River" (1999)
  • "Pinkie" (1998)
  • "Trapped" (1989) {re-issued as a graphic novel in 1992}
  • "Graveyard Highway" (1987)
  • "Twilight of the Dawn" (1987)
  • "Miss Atilla the Hun" (1987)
  • "Hardshell" (1987)
  • "The Interrogation" (1987)
  • "The Black Pumpkin" (1986)
  • "The Monitors of Providence {collaboration}" (1986)
  • "Snatcher" (1986)
  • "Weird World" (1986)
  • "Down in the Darkness" (1986)
  • "Night of the Storm" (1974) {re-issued as a graphic novel in 1976}
  • "We Three" (1974)
  • "The Undercity" (1973)
  • "Terra Phobia" (1973)
  • "Wake Up To Thunder" (1973)
  • "The Sinless Child" (1973)
  • "Grayworld" (1973)
  • "A Mouse in the Walls of the Global Village" (1972)
  • "Ollie's Hands" (1972) {revised and re-issued in 1987}
  • "Altarboy" (1972)
  • "Cosmic Sin" (1972)
  • "The Terrible Weapon" (1972)
  • "Bruno" (1971)
  • "Unseen Warriors" (1970)
  • "Shambolain" (1970)
  • "The Crimson Witch" (1970)
  • "Beastchild" (1970)
  • "Emanations" (1970)
  • "The Mystery of His Flesh" (1970)
  • "The Good Ship Lookoutworld" (1970)
  • "Nightmare Gang" (1970)
  • "A Third Hand" (1970)
  • "Muse" (1969)
  • "The Face in His Belly" Part Two" (1969)
  • "Dragon In the Land" (1969)
  • "The Face in His Belly" Part One (1969)
  • "Where the Beast Runs" (1969)
  • "Killerbot" (1969) {revised and re-issued in 1977 as "A Season for Freedom"}
  • "Temple of Sorrow" (1969)
  • "In the Shield" (1969)
  • "Dreambird" (1968)
  • "The Twelfth Bed" (1968)
  • "The Psychedelic Children" (1968)
  • "To Behold the Sun" (1967)
  • "Love 2005" (1967)
  • "Soft Come the Dragons" (1967)
  • "A Miracle is Anything" (1966)
  • "Some Disputed Barricade" (1966)
  • "This Fence" (1965)
  • "The Kittens" (1965)


Every Day's a Holiday: Amusing Rhymes for Happy Times (2003)

  • "Holiday Gifts"
  • "Stop The World! It's Your Birthday!"
  • "Holiday Data Glitch"
  • "New Year's Eve"
  • "New Year's Day"
  • "Appropriate Holiday Entertainment"
  • "Carnival!"
  • "Gravity Day"
  • "Martin Luther King, Jr. Day"
  • "Snow Day"
  • "Valentine's Day"
  • "Abraham Lincoln's Birthday"
  • "George Washington's Birthday"
  • "Saint Patrick's Day"
  • "The First Day of Spring"
  • "Every Day's A Holiday"
  • "Easter: The Danger of Improving Holiday Traditions"
  • "April Fool's Day"
  • "Sakura Matsuki (Cherry Blossom Festival)"
  • "Dino Day"
  • "Cinco de Mayo"
  • "Teacher's Day"
  • "Annual Animals' Day in Court"
  • "Mother's Day Is Every Day, Thanks to Us"
  • "Cat Day"
  • "Memorial Day"
  • "Things That Can Spoil a Good Holiday"
  • "Father's Day"
  • "The Eighteen Acceptable Excuses Not to Celebrate a Holiday"
  • "Toad Day"
  • "The Last Day of School, the Saddest Day of the Year"
  • "Graduation Day"
  • "The First Day of Summer"
  • "Me Day"
  • "Independence Day: Free to Be Ignorant Old Me"
  • "Dog Day"
  • "Friendship Day"
  • "Holidays on Other Planets"
  • "Labor Day"
  • "Grandfather's Day"
  • "Grandma's Day or Why One Day There Will Be Good Cookies on the Moon"
  • "The First Day of Autumn"
  • "Lost-Tooth Day"
  • "Rosh Hashanah"
  • "Troll Day, Whether You Like IT of Not"
  • "Yom Kippur"
  • "Holiday Dinner"
  • "Columbus Day"
  • "How to Get to Sleep Before a Holiday"
  • "Mr. Halloween"
  • "What Should Go into a Holiday Pie"
  • "Día de los Muertos"
  • "Praise the Chicken Day - or Else"
  • "Diwali by Golly"
  • "National Book Week: Why Paper Tigers Are the Preferred Breed"
  • "Holiday, Holinight"
  • "Thanksgiving Turkey Dresses in Hand-Me-Downs"
  • "The First Day of Winter"
  • "The Shortest Day of the Year"
  • "Christmas Eve"
  • "Christmas Day"
  • "Up-Is-Down Day"
  • "Kwanzaa"
  • "Not the Stuff of Holidays"

The Paper Doorway: Funny Verse and Nothing Worse (2001)

  • "A Bad Cat"
  • "A Beverage with Antlers"
  • "A Cure for Ugly"
  • "A Long Day of Rhyming"
  • "A Short Trip"
  • "A Skeleton's Hotel"
  • "A Strange Day on the Farm"
  • "Advice"
  • "Ages of a Toad"
  • "All Families Are Not the Same"
  • "An Accident at the Pole"
  • "An Angry Poem by a Dragon's Mother"
  • "An Interesting Fact About Dogs"
  • "At War with Wood"
  • "Auntie"
  • "Balance"
  • "Baseball is Safer"
  • "Being Me"
  • "Better Than Money"
  • "Boogeyman"
  • "Cats in Spats"
  • "Crime and Punishment"
  • "Dangerous Music"
  • "Dinner with Jilly"
  • "Do Trees Sneeze?"
  • "Dogs and Hogs"
  • "Fashion-Plate Fido"
  • "Food Psychos"
  • "Frankenbunny"
  • "Handyman"
  • "Head Number Two"
  • "Horse Thief"
  • "I Don't Share"
  • "If I Were a Potato"
  • "Insults"
  • "Listen to the Wind"
  • "Lucky Skunk"
  • "Mary Thinks She Wants a Puppy"
  • "My Words"
  • "Peace Through Hopping"
  • "Peg-Leg Zeg"
  • "Plurals"
  • "Poem by My Dog"
  • "Princess with a Tail"
  • "Rain"
  • "Red Hair"
  • "Rocks"
  • "Rumor"
  • "Safe Household Accidents"
  • "Sick"
  • "Silly"
  • "Snowland"
  • "So There"
  • "Stars, Mars, and Chocolate Bars"
  • "The Bear with One Green Ear"
  • "The Cabbage Feels No Pain"
  • "The Fearful Bee"
  • "The Man With Four Eyes"
  • "The Monstrous Broccoli Excuse"
  • "The Paper Doorway"
  • "The Pig with Pride"
  • "The Prettiest Butterfly I Will Ever See"
  • "The Reliable Bunny"
  • "The Seasons of a Toad"
  • "The Shark in the Park"
  • "The Threat"
  • "The Wart"
  • "The Woggle Wrangler"
  • "The Young Musician - Or Maybe Thug"
  • "Them and Us"
  • "Thinking About Me"
  • "Those Weird Guys in Nursery Rhymes"
  • "Toast and Jam"
  • "Up"
  • "Wally the Werewolf"
  • "What I Like"
  • "What Will We Do, What Will We Do?"
  • "Why Good Manners Matter"
  • "Why I Find It So Hard to Learn"
  • "Why Most People Prefer Cats and Dogs"
  • "Why?"
  • "Wishes"
  • "You Get the Pickle You Ask For"

The Reflector (1965-67)

  • "The Day"
  • "Growing Pains"
  • "Sing A Song Of Sixpence"
  • "This Fence"
  • "Cellars"
  • "Cloistered Walls"
  • "Flesh"
  • "For A Breath I Tarry"
  • "Hey, Good Christian"
  • "Holes"
  • "It"
  • "I've Met One"
  • "Mold In The Jungle"
  • "Once"
  • "The Rats Run"
  • "Sam: the Adventurous, Exciting, Well-Traveled Man"
  • "Something About This City"
  • "The Standard Unusual"
  • "A Trio Of Possible Futures"
  • "You Dirty Jap, Said The Jap"
  • "Where No One Fell"



  • The Book of Counted Sorrows (2003)
  • Trapped (1993, Graphic Novel)

Film and television adaptations

  • Frankenstein (2004) - USA
  • Black River (2001) - USA
  • Sole Survivor (2000) – Fox - Billy Zane
  • Phantoms (1998)- Peter O'Toole, Rose McGowan, Liev Schreiber, Ben Affleck and Joanna Going.
  • Watchers Reborn (1998) – New Horizon – Mark Hamill, Lisa Wilcox
  • Mr. Murder (1998) – ABC – Stephen Baldwin, James Coburn
  • Intensity (1997) – Fox – John McGinley, Piper Laurie
  • Hideaway (1995) – Tristar – Jeff Goldblum, Christine Lahti
  • Watchers III (1994) – New Horizons – Wings Hauser, Lolita Ronalos
  • The Servants of Twilight (1992) – Trimark – Bruce Greenwood, Belinda Bauer
  • The Face of Fear (1990) – CBS – Pam Dawber, Lee Horsley
  • Whispers (1990) Cinepix – Victoria Tennant, Jean LeClere
  • Watchers II (1990) Concord – Marc Singer, Tracy Scroggins
  • Watchers (1988) – Concord - Corey Haim, Barbara Williams
  • The Funhouse (1981) [Movie first then book – Movie written by Larry Block Universal – Elizabeth Berridge, Cooper Huckabee
  • The Intruder (circa 1979) - MGM - Jean-Louis Trintignant (French version of “Shattered”)
  • Demon Seed (1977) - MGM - Julie Christie, Fritz Weaver


"Haute Tension" is not a Dean Koontz movie. It's simply a plagarized version of Intensity. Koontz states that a lawsuit would not be worth the expense.

Books about Dean Koontz

  • A Collector's Guide to Dean Koontz by Michael Sauers
  • Dean Koontz: A Reader's Checklist and Reference Guide
  • Dean Koontz: A Writer's Biography by Katherine Ramsland
  • Dean Koontz: A Critical Companion by Joan G. Kotker
  • The Dean Koontz Companion by Martin H. Greenberg,[Ed Gorman, Bill Munster 1994
  • Sudden Fear: The Horror and Dark Suspense Fiction of Dean R. Koontz (Starmont Studies in Literary Criticism, # 24) by Bill Munster

Common collecting errors

These titles/authors are not Dean Koontz:

  • Heartbeeps by John Hill
  • Stolen Thunder and Sharkman Six by David Axton
  • anything by Owen Brookes
  • anything by Frank Coffey
  • anything by the Irish poet Brian Coffey

External links

Part of this article consists of modified text from Wikipedia, and the article is therefore licensed under GFDL.