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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read!
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...
Published on June 30, 1999

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Recommended for fans of Koontz' work
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...
Published on April 26, 2005 by Michele L. Worley


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Recommended for fans of Koontz' work, April 26, 2005
By 
Michele L. Worley (Kingdom of the Mouse, United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Dean Koontz: A Writer's Biography (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:

COLD FIRE

Ironheart's hometown is based loosely on Koontz'.

STRANGE HIGHWAYS

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.

THE VOICE OF THE NIGHT

Colin is a self-portrait of the author; Heather is based on Koontz' wife, Gerda.

TWILIGHT EYES

One character's background reflects the town where Koontz had his first teaching job.

Ramsland's approach to Koontz's work isn't pedantically dry, and in fact meshes well with his particular style; in creating books such as WHISPERS, he himself deliberately incorporated a lot of personal research into aberrant psychology to make some of his more frightening characters as realistic as possible. (His approach to characterization changed over the years, though.)

Not that Ramsland restricts herself to analyzing Koontz' work; she incorporates discussion of it when it helps illustrate aspects of his life, rather than restricting herself to discussing the stories in chronological sequence. Koontz has real-life experience of coping with people with frightening depths; Ramsland provides a great deal of illumination of his relationship with his family, particularly his smooth-talking alcoholic father. (TWILIGHT EYES-style, Ramsland includes periodic descriptions of what was going on in the world at various points, for perspective.)
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read!, June 30, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Dean Koontz: A Writer's Biography (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
5.0 out of 5 stars Almost everything you need to know about Dean Koontz, February 12, 2001
By 
Stuart Weaver "noneyet" (Saint Augustine, Florida USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Dean Koontz: A Writer's Biography (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
4.0 out of 5 stars Koontz Lite, August 3, 2002
By 
This review is from: Dean Koontz: A Writer's Biography (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
5.0 out of 5 stars Wanna know everthing bout Dean Koontz? That's your book, July 26, 2000
This review is from: Dean Koontz: A Writer's Biography (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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Informative Biography of a Bestselling Author, August 13, 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Dean Koontz: A Writer's Biography (Paperback)
I found this book to be well written and interesting. Despite Dean Koontz being one of the most popular authors in the world today, before I read this, the only bit of information that had stuck with me previously was that he was from a very poor family.
This situation is expanded on substantially in the course of the novel and gives one a view of the human spirit that allows someone like Dean to go from rags to riches through hardwork and driving ambition.
However the main aspect I drew from Ms Ramsland's biography is the interpretation behind each and every novel Dean writes. To me his books are pure entertainment mainly focusing on good versus evil scenarios, however with the authors observations and contributions from Dean Koontz himself, there is a story behind every story. With the turbulent relationship with his father as a key component, one really does see how great authors such as Dean Koontz get inspiration and find writing to be such a cleansing of the soul.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth every minute to a Koontz fan, January 14, 1999
By A Customer
This is an excellent visit with Dean Koontz! His life is detailed, and throughout the chronological tour of his life are sprinkled his books, with explanations and examples. The down side to this is that occasionally too much of a book's detail is revealed to one who has not yet read the book. I have found this intriguing, but others may feel it is too revealing.
The feeling at the end of the book is that I had just visited with Mr. Koontz and he had explained his novels in relation to his life. Thoroughly enjoyable reading, and I don't usually enjoy "biographies."
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dated, Detailed, but Fully Dean, October 23, 2010
By 
Eric Wilson "author" (Nashville, TN United States) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Dean Koontz: A Writer's Biography (Paperback)
In "Dean Koontz: A Writer's Biography," Katherine Ramsland takes on the task of capturing the life and thoughts behind one of our generations most popular storytellers. Readers of Dean's books know they are full of psychological twists, foreboding images, and dark places, and yet these stories often end on a note of optimism, even hope. What inspires this man to write books with such vivid juxtapositions of evil and good? Ramsland does a fine job of trying to answer that question.

From his early years in a small Pennsylvania town to his courtship with the thin and beautiful Gerda (and the humorous setting of their first date), this biography lets us peek into the surface normalcy of Dean's childhood. He read sci-fi, loving Heinlein and Bradbury, and he enjoyed the classic monster stories. He was well-liked, humorous, if not somewhat quiet. Behind the scenes, though, his family was a place of intense unrest, suffering under the sociopathic ways of his alcoholic father. Later in the book, Dean admits that he cannot remember even a two-minute stint with his father in which there was not stress involved.

The book dives into Dean's years as a teacher, and into the period during which his wife agreed to support him for five years while he pursued his writing. If, after that, he was not on his way then clearly he never would be. As we know now, he was definitely on his way! His career started in the sixties and has spanned into five decades, with tens of millions of his books sold every year worldwide. Ramsland tracks this journey for us, not only in the slow-rising success and escalating sales under different pen names and genres, but in the shift from his Catholic thinking to agnosticism to atheism and back to a view of life and God based on a belief in personal good and personal evil. In fact, she gives detailed descriptions of many of his books and their plots to demonstrate this, and while it's fascinating, I skimmed a good 1/3 of the book to avoid spoilers and/or the magic that went into some of the titles I've enjoyed. In the past decade, the underpinnings of his writing seem to have shifted even more, and unfortunately this biography only covers his life into the late nineties.

Dean is described by many as a genuinely nice, hardworking, salt-of-the-earth type of guy. He's reclusive yet friendly. And this book shows us the struggles he faced with his own deteriorating father, and with his mother who said she had something to reveal to Dean about his father but died before doing so. With his wife's help, Dean has ballooned a literary career into a multi-million dollar career, but he says he never wrote for money. If so, he would've quit early on. He writes because he enjoys it, finds it cathartic, and even healing at times. In conclusion, he urges his readers: "Take my hand. We're going to go through this terrible place . . . but it's going to be all right at the other end. There's going to be meaning and a purpose to this. Trust me."
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for any Koontz fan!, March 3, 1999
By A Customer
This is simply must reading for Dean Koontz fans, and is also a great reference to everything he ever wrote. I use the "Chronology of Books" section to help pick the next work to read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Katherine Ramsland Chronicles The Life and Career of DEAN KOONTZ, October 12, 2011
This review is from: Dean Koontz: A Writer's Biography (Paperback)
I was a little late coming to this great biography of Dean Koontz, but it really gives an amazing portrait of the author who has thrilled and terrorized readers all over the world. His success even after this book was completed is really astounding, but author Katherine Ramsland also takes us into the making of Koontz, and the life that in effect made his success as an author possible.

I found out so much that I didn't know, but it goes to the heart of why so many are drawn to Koontz's work: they can relate to some aspect of it. Whether it was his father's quest for fame and fortune or dealing with what so many told Dean that he wouldn't be able to do, what stands out is that he never gave up. Doesn't mean that everything turned out exactly like he planned, but sometimes those things that didn't seem to work were really for the best.

Katherine added Dean's voice and that of those who knew him and his literary ride in a way that helped narrate the story of his life, but it really felt as though you were just sitting around the table with them and enjoying the reflections of his career. Though another decade has come and gone since the book was originally released, this is a great chronicle of how his worldwide domination began. It deserves your attention.
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Dean Koontz: A Writer's Biography
Dean Koontz: A Writer's Biography by Katherine Ramsland (Paperback - Aug. 1998)
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