Dean Koontz on Staying Engaged and Staying Off The Internet
This Week on The Literary Life with Mitchell Kaplan
On this edition of The Literary Life, my guest has published over 105 novels and has sold over 450 million copies of his books. That’s right, 450 million copies. That’s the output of Dean Koontz and my revealing conversation with him covers lots of territory: his book collection, his love of reading, his new works, his thoughts on artificial intelligence, his writing process, how he researches, his openness about overcoming his difficult childhood, the impact of his early teachers, and the incredible bond with Gerda, his lifelong love and partner. Dean spoke to me from Southern California while I was at Books and Books in Coral Gables, Florida.
From the episode:
Mitchell Kaplan: You have such a fertile mind and such a creative mind, and you write at least two books a year — and then some, with some of your novellas and other things. What is your process for being able to keep up with being on the cutting edge of everything that is being talked about? Do you read a lot of magazines? I know that you’re not on the internet at all or that much — what is the nature of your reading these days, I guess is my question.
Dean Koontz: I subscribe to a number of publications in areas of interest to me, and uh, and I’m always reading about these things. I read a few different newspapers and if I hit on something, some subject in it that interests me, then it’s: what else can I find about this? Then I — you’re right, I don’t go online. That was a decision I made right at the beginning, because I know I’m an obsessive compulsive personality, and I could see that you could get into that. It triggers the dopamine response in your brain, and I know what that’s like because anything I’ve become obsessive about that pleases me, I can’t let go of, although fortunately not drugs. A little bit of red wine.
But I stayed away from it. I don’t go on, I have an assistant I can go to and say, here’s something I’d like to get information on, and what can you find for me? So the internet is there for me, but I don’t have to go out and surf it and go through the hours of time on it that would take me to get what I want.
Then, if something I see triggers something in my head that’s very interesting, and if I could talk to readers about that in an interesting way in the context of fiction, that would probably be an engaging story. And that’s sometimes what drives me to more research and sometimes actually to the story. Although stories come to you from so many sources that sometimes you can’t even identify where the idea came from.