American horror and science fiction author Dean Koontz was born July 9, 1945 in Everett, Pennsylvania. he was regularly beaten and abused by his alcoholic father, which influenced his later writing, as also did the courage of his physically diminutive mother in standing up to her husband” In his senior year at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, he won a fiction competition sponsored by Atlantic Monthly magazine. After graduation in 1967, he 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.
During 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 Catholicism as English writer and Catholic convert G.K. Chesterton did: that it encourages a “joy about the gift of life”Koontz says that spirituality has always been part of his books, as are grace and our struggle as fallen souls
In the 1970s, Koontz began writing 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. As Brian Coffey he wrote the “Mike Tucker” trilogy [Blood Risk, Surrounded, Wall of Masks] in acknowledged tribute to the Parker novels of Richard Stark (Donald E. Westlake). Many of Koontz’s pseudonymous novels are now available under his real name. Many others remain suppressed by Koontz, who bought back the rights to ensure they could not be republished; he has, on occasion, said that he might revise some for re-publication, but only 3 have appeared – Demon Seed and Invasion were both heavily rewritten before they were republished, and Prison of Ice had certain sections bowdlerised.
After writing full-time for more than ten years, Koontz’s breakthrough novel was Whispers. The two books before that, The Key to Midnight and The Funhouse, were written under pen names. 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. From 1979 on, Koontz’s books regularly became paperback bestsellers. His first hardcover bestseller, was Strangers. Since then, 12 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 this often showed the conception of Koontz’s characters and plots from events in his own life Many of his novels are set in and around Orange County, California.
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. Trixie originally was 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 Koontz’s substantial donations, totaling $2,500,000 between 1991 and 2004. Koontz was taken with the charity while he was researching his novel Midnight, which included a black Labrador retriever, named Moose. In 2004 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 with royalties being donated to CCI. Sadly In 2007 Trixie contracted terminal cancer that created a tumor in her heart. The Koontzes had her put to sleep outside their family home on June 30. Following Trixie’s death Koontz continued writing on his website under Trixie’s names in “TOTOS”, standing for Trixie on the Other Side. Trixie was also the inspiration for 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. In October 2008 Koontz revealed that he had adopted a new dog, Anna. It eventually was learned that Anna was the grandniece of Trixie. Sadly Anna died on May 22, 2016 so Koontz then adopted a new dog, Elsa, on July 11, 2016.
Many of Dean Koontz’s novels have been adapted for film and Television including Odd Thomas, starring Anton Yelchin, Frankenstein; starring Adam Goldberg, Parker Posey, Michael Madsen, Vincent Perez, and Thomas Kretschmann, Black River; starring Jay Mohr, and Stephen Tobolowsky, Sole Survivor; starring Billy Zane, John C. McGinley, and Gloria Reuben, Watchers Revorn; starring Mark Hamill, Phantoms (1998); starring Peter O’Toole, Ben Affleck, Rose McGowan, and Joanna Going. Mr. Murder; starring Stephen Baldwin, Thomas Haden Church, and James Coburn. Intensity; starring John C. McGinley, Molly Parker, and Piper Laurie. Hideaway; starring Jeff Goldblum, Christine Lahti, Jeremy Sisto, and Alicia Silverstone. Watchers 3; starring Wings Hauser. Servants of Twilight starring Bruce Greenwood. The Face of Fear starring Pam Dawber and Lee Horsley. Watchers II; starring Marc Singer and Tracy Scoggins. Whispers; starring Victoria Tennant, Chris Sarandon, and Jean LeClere. The Passengers starring Jean-Louis Trintignant (French film adaptation of Koontz’s novel Shattered) and Demon Seed; starring Julie Christie, Fritz Weaver, and Robert Vaughn as the voice of Proteus.
As of 2006 Koontz lives there with his wife, Gerda (Cerra), in Newport Coast, California behind the gates of Pelican Hills. In 2008 he was the world’s sixth most highly paid author, tied with John Grisham, at $25 million annually.