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Slaughter with a smile

Dean Koontz, the author, doesn't spend much time signing books: The Newport Beach resident writes new novels for at least 60 hours a week.

January 07, 2011|By Tom Titus

Dean Koontz says that he "hates leaving home." His rear terrace offers a magnificent view of the Pacific Ocean, and on a clear day he can see from Long Beach to San Clemente Island.

But his devotion to home and hearth runs deeper than creature comforts. Koontz doesn't fly and won't go on book-signing tours. That would interfere with the 60 to 70 hours he spends each week creating his new novels — "80 to 90 hours near the end," he says.

Dean and Gerda Koontz contribute to many charities, and one of them — Canine Companions for Independence — contributed right back in 2004 with Trixie, a golden retriever, beloved by the couple. The dog contracted terminal cancer in 2007 and had to be put down. Dogs have since become integral parts of Koontz's stories.

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Two years ago the Koontzes adopted a new golden retriever, Anna, an extremely affectionate companion who "flunked out of disability training school because the birds bugged her." It was later learned that Anna was the grandniece of Trixie, who became the "author" of a few of Koontz's children's books.

A few movies have been made from Dean Koontz novels, perhaps the most recognizable being 1977's "Demon Seed," which stars Julie Christie as a woman impregnated by a rogue computer. Another, "Phantoms," is a 1998 horror flick adapted from the 1983 novel, during the filming of which Koontz formed a lasting friendship with its star, Peter O'Toole, who once phoned him to get his approval on the addition of a comma to the actor's dialogue.

(I checked out both movies on Netflix after our talk. Their fright quotient is through the roof. Don't watch either on a dark night just before bedtime).

Last July Koontz turned 65, an age at which many Americans begin to think about retirement. Not this American, though he hardly needs the extra money.

"I'll go out at my computer," he promises.

Which means there will be many more crime thrillers ahead, with increasingly evil villains and even more creative methods of eliminating characters, always with a sly little grin.

TOM TITUS reviews local theater for the Daily Pilot.

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