Koontz and his wife, Gerda (pronounced "Jerda"), a grade-school buddy and high school sweetheart, now lead a supremely comfortable life in a home that's part mansion and part museum, the walls lined with glass-encased posters from film noir movies. There's even a fair-sized movie theater on the premises.
A third part of the house — a comparatively small area — is Koontz's office space. It's basically a desk and a computer, where he turns out novels that make The New York Times bestseller list. A dozen of his hardcover books have reached No. 1, along with 14 that reached that spot in paperback.
His latest project, "What the Night Knows" (which he sent me prior to our interview), is perhaps his best. I say "perhaps" because I've only read about 15 or 16 of his works. He's written more than 100 since he got his start as a teenager, selling a short story to the Atlantic Monthly for $50.
In this latest one, the hero is a police detective who, at 14, killed the madman who had murdered the rest of his family. Now, 20 years later, the spirit of that killer has returned to inhabit and control others with a murderous bent, and the detective's own family is targeted. How, you wonder, do you dispatch an evil spirit from a previous generation?
How, indeed. And how does Koontz keep coming up with all these intricate story lines over a period of 42 years?
It's a matter of record that he was raised under the thumb of an alcoholic and abusive father who, the author says wryly, "had 44 jobs in 34 years."
The hardships of Koontz's early life served as inspiration for some of the nastier characters he went on to create.