Amazon Exclusive Essay: Destiny and Odd Hours
Odd Thomas came to me as a gift, the entire first chapter of his first book having poured out of me as I was in the middle of writing The Face
. I wrote it by hand, though I never work that way, and I never hesitated to think what should come next. He was fully-realized in my mind from the moment I began to write in that lined legal tablet. With other stories and characters, I can identify the source of the inspiration, but not with Oddie and his books. He just suddenly was. When I write about him, his narrative voice is so clear to me that I almost hear him in my head.
For those among you who long have thought that I should be institutionalized, just relax: I said I almost hear him.
Many times over the years, I said I would never write an open-ended series. Then along came Oddie, and he proved me wrong. Or so I thought. As I wrote the first chapter of Odd Hours
, the fourth featuring my fry-cook hero, I realized that this was not an open-ended series, after all, but that it would conclude with six or seven novels. I now think seven.
I suddenly saw the end point of his journey, the arc of it to the final book, and I was stunned. Beginning with this fourth story, the stakes were being raised dramatically; Oddie was going to face far more physical and moral danger than previously; and he was going to mature toward the fulfillment of a destiny that I had not seen coming until that moment.
Initially, I tried to argue myself out of the direction that Odd Hours
was taking. I didn't believe that the first three books had put down a sufficient foundation to support the formidable architecture that I saw rising from it in the next three or four novels.
When I began to reread the first three books, however, I quickly discovered that I had unconsciously paved the road that the series was now taking. I had thought I was writing a series with an overall theme about the power and beauty of humility. Indeed I was, but it was also something more than that; and Oddie's ultimate destiny will not be merely purification to a state of absolute humility, but will be that and something else I find quite wonderful.
What lies ahead will be a challenge to write--or perhaps not. The character of Odd Thomas was a gift to me, and now I see that the entire architecture of a seven-book series was another gift that came to me complete on the same day Oddie arrived, although I needed time to recognize it.
This world is a place of wonder, and life is a mysterious enterprise; but nothing in all my years has been more mysterious than Odd Thomas's origins and my compulsion to write about him. -- Dean Koontz
The fourth adventure of Odd Thomas, the young man haunted by the deceased who can also foresee potential murderous disaster, may not be the best—his eponymous initial outing is—but darned if it isn’t the most purely entertaining. Observing Koontz’s SOP, it starts with a bang and goes like a house afire straight through to the penultimate chapter (the last chapter cleans up). Odd goes out for a walk on the boardwalk to find the Lady of the Bell, a pregnant girl roughly his own age (21), who has appeared to him in a troubling dream. He succeeds, but then a blond gorilla and two skinny redheaded guys packing heat show up. When Odd touches the gorilla, he gets a flash of the dream. So does the gorilla, who is immediately, murderously suspicious, so Odd, after sending the girl packing, takes a header off the boardwalk. For most of the rest of the book, Odd flees the three baddies, discovering that the local police chief and a liberal minister are in cahoots with them, until he reverses the procedure to prevent very serious destruction, indeed, aimed at regime change in America. Choosing so grandiose an objective for Odd, Koontz forges the kind of sweeping melodrama, complete with screwball laughs, nail-biting moments, and surprises, that is the bedrock of American narrative entertainment. --Ray Olson