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Dean Koontz: A Writer's Biography Paperback – August, 1998

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Fans of writer Dean Koontz will welcome this full-length biography. Koontz, not known for giving extensive interviews, cooperated in the writing of the book, although it is not an authorized biography. Ramsland, who has previously written studies of Anne Rice (Prisms of the Night, Plume, 1994), presents Koontz's troubled childhood with an alcoholic father and ailing mother, follows him through his years as a teacher, and relates his struggling beginnings, and eventual success, as a writer. In addition to the facts of his life, Ramsland analyzes his fiction extensively, drawing parallels between his life and his fiction. Her central idea is that Koontz's traumas as a child are exorcised, to some extent, in his novels. Some readers may find the extensive summarizing tiresome and would prefer to know more of what makes Koontz tick. Yet libraries should expect heavy demand from diehard Koontz fans.?Ronald Ray Ratliff, Chapman H.S. Lib., Kan.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"An enlightening, in-depth biography of the world's foremost practitioner of psychological terror." -- -- Publishers Weekly

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Eos (HarperCollins) (August 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061053511
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061053511
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 5.8 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,724,184 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Katherine Ramsland began her career as a writer with Prism of the Night: A Biography of Anne Rice. She had a bestseller with The Vampire Companion. Since then, she has published 40 books and over 1,000 articles, reviews and short stories. From ghosts to vampires to serial killers, she has taken on a variety of dark subjects. She holds graduate degrees in forensic psychology, clinical psychology, criminal justice, and philosophy. Currently, she teaches forensic psychology and criminal justice at DeSales University. Her books include The Forensic Psychology of Criminal Minds, The Human Predator: A Historical Chronicle of Serial Murder and Forensic Investigation, Inside the Minds of Serial Killers, Inside the Minds of Sexual Predators, and Inside the Minds of Mass Murderers. Her background in forensic studies positioned her to assist former FBI profiler John Douglas on his book, The Cases that Haunt Us, and to co-write a book with former FBI profiler, Gregg McCrary, The Unknown Darkness, as well as The Real Life of a Forensic Scientist with Henry C. Lee and A Voice for the Dead with James Starrs. She speaks internationally about forensic psychology, forensic science, and serial murder, and has appeared on numerous documentaries, as well as such programs as The Today Show, 20/20, 48 Hours, NPR, Coast to Coast, Montel Williams, Larry King Live and E! True Hollywood.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Michele L. Worley on April 26, 2005
Format: Paperback
Although Koontz and his family and friends cooperated with Ramsland during her research into his life and career, Ramsland has also used tools employed by other biographers studying the lives of writers who are very private people, such as Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers: Ramsland includes much study of Koontz' work, analyzed in terms of revealing truths about the author.

In short, many of Koontz' novels are discussed in some detail in this biography of their creator, which provides an interesting layer of frosting upon going back and re-reading them. Ramsland has a degree in clinical psychology rather than literature, so her analyses tend to be in terms of characters and how they incorporate elements of real people in Koontz's life rather than in terms of, say, literary symbolism. Ramsland does provide some of that, though; Koontz *did* study literary technique, for one thing, and in addition uses some quirks of his characters' behaviour to reflect aspects of their characters, so that symbolism often dovetails with Ramsland's psychological approach.

(Before laughing this off as boring - how many times have you asked yourself, "What *is* it with this man and basements/clowns/snow, anyway?")

This biography therefore includes massive spoilers for most of Koontz' novels up to FEAR NOTHING.

Some tidbits:


Ironheart's hometown is based loosely on Koontz'.


The Shannon house is a copy of Koontz' childhood home, and Joey is a nightmare version of Koontz himself (Joey having taken the wrong road in his twenties, dropped out of college, and failed to pursue his dream of becoming a writer). In real life, the house bordered the fairgrounds, which led Koontz to learn about carnivals.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 30, 1999
Format: Paperback
As a fan of Dean Koontz, I was looking forward to reading his biography. It was interesting to me to find out what influenced his writing, and seeing that didn't take away the magic in his books. If anything, it made me want to read them again for things I might have missed the first time! Warning: She does "give away" some of the endings of his books, but if you come across one you haven't read, then skip that section for now and go back to it after you read that particular story--duh... A great addition to any library. I will read this again!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Stuart Weaver on February 12, 2001
Format: Paperback
If you're looking for a reference work on Dean Koontz, look no further. Ms. Ramsland has written the biography that all others will be judged by. It is loaded with information, and is not a dry read like so many other biographies. It was a valuable tool for me when I was creating my Dean Koontz website as it contains contains chronological listings of all of Koontz's works, almost all of his pseudonyms, and a year-by-year breakdown of highlights in his career. Whether you're tracking down information for a school report or a newspaper article or just searching for more about the life of one of America's most prolific writers, then this book is for you.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Rux on August 3, 2002
Format: Paperback
Disappointing when compared to Ramsland's excellent biography of Anne Rice (Prism of the Night), but definitely worthwhile. This is an authorized biography - almost invariably a euphemism for "friendly and not too deep" - and as such comes off more as a hagiography.
Repeatedly, very interesting stories are given only a cursory glance before being discarded. For instance, Koontz mentions a UFO/meteor encounter he had when very young that actually made the papers at the time, but this fascinating little tidbit is simply tossed-off in one short paragraph and then forgotten. Similarly, Koontz's explanation for how he managed to defer his drafting in Vietnam makes no sense, and is glossed over in as short a space. No mention at all is made of his writing government manuals in the mid-'70s, even though those manuals are still listed even here on Amazon, and surely there is an interesting story behind that.
However, the book's pluses easily outweigh its minuses. There is no better book analyzing the author's works, insightfully and in quite some detail. Koontz's difficult childhood with an alcoholic father is recounted in significant detail, and one comes away with new-found respect for the man in recognizing this unfortunate hurdle he had to overcome that might easily have stunted a less resilient individual beyond repair. His savvy in the business of writing is excellently presented, making the book a useful study in that subject - and the author's stories are very nicely demonstrated reflecting the ups and downs in his alternately grim and rewarding life, to the point that this volume would make an excellent textbook for any college creative writing course.
Not that thorough or penetrating, but a valuable addition to anyone's bookshelf who is interested in Koontz's prolific body of work - or even just someone interested in the business of writing, and the creative process.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Marco Aurelio on July 26, 2000
Format: Paperback
Everytime I want to read a very wonderful biography, I go back and reread this one. Since I read my first book by Dean Koontz, and begun searching for information on him on the net, I was looking forwad to see a biography of him. Then, I discovered the best biography I've ever read some months later.
The book is very well developed. Dean's story is told since the day he was born, passing for the problems of his family with his father, until the day he met the woman who later became his wife until the day he started writing and more, much more, without forget his whole bibliography, the stories of his pen names and an excelent work was done as for telling all about his books.
The author, Katherine Ramsland, knew exactly how to do what she was meant to do. The language is easy and the research was perfect (she talked to Dean to write it, to people related to him, friends, ex-neighbors, etc), which obviously resulted in this wonderful book you now have the chance to read. And don't think twice before buying it. Take it now and dive in this unique world.
Marco Aurelio.
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