Allan Mayer’s Weblog

Me and Dean Koontz

Posted on: June 27, 2008

Another useful tip I got through confidence coaching was to find a model of excellence- a writer you admire and want to be like.

I don’t know why I struggled so much to find mine. I enjoy the work of Martin Amis, although my writing is not of that literary bent, and I can’t identify with Amis’s background. J.K. Rowling was suggested, but I thought a model who wrote closer to my genre (sort of thriller) would be more appropriate.

Then it struck me- a successful writer who strays between genres, whose technique I admire and sometimes consciously emulate is Dean Koontz.

I told Lynn Grocott, my confidence coach, that I had identified my model of excellence and she said: ‘Right. Now you need to stalk him.’


‘Stalk him. Track him down any way you can, find out what got him where he is and do what he did.’

There are websites which will give you, sometimes at a small cost, addresses of celebrities including writers or their agents. When I found Dean Koontz’s address it looked sort of familiar- and I realised that I had actually seen it before in several of his books. Dean actually wants people to write to him- this was going to be easy stalking. But would he reply?

I wrote my letter, beginning ‘Dear Mr. Koontz…’ (I don’t think overfamiliarity is respectful,) thanked him for the pleasure I’d derived from his work and commented on his positive portrayal of people with learning disabilities.

I then went on to explain that I had written a novel, would appreciate any advice, and would he maybe like to see a section…

Then I posted it.

About three weeks later an envelope arrived from the States. It was packed with articles and pamphlets about writing and about Koontz’s work, and contained not only one but two letters.

The first leter said that he was busy so had to send out a standard response, although the signature (‘for what it’s worth’) was his. But under the signature, in the same handwriting, was a note to see attached letter.

The second letter explained that his attourney forbade him to comment on anyone’s writing. That is understandable- I would be the first to submit to a publisher with a letter which said Dean Koontz liked it.

The rest of the letter advised that anyone writing their first book is better to concentrate on the ‘High Concept novel.’ The high concept novel is something which can be described in two sentences which will make a publisher salivate. The example he gave was ‘Jurassic Park’:

Scientists have created dinosaurs. Now they are loose.

One example of a high concept Dean Koontz novel is ‘Velocity,’ although he admits that at his level he is free to experiment.

So that is the advice from the master: the high concept novel. I am currently working on one: ‘Legion’s Daughter,’ at the same time as trying to publish ‘Tasting the Wind.’

Since writing to Dean Koontz I have also discovered his excellent website. Amongst other things it contains podcasts of Dean talking about his experiences as a writer, and they are well worth a listen. Although the cynical would say that it is excellent marketing and self-promotion I would like to think that this is a writer who looks after his fan base.

Someone once said that successful people are not to be looked up to, but looked into. Choose your model of excellence, find out all that you can, write to them, if possible interview them, then do what they did.

They made it. Why shouldn’t you?

My Zimbio
Top Stories

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

My Latest Twitterings

%d bloggers like this: