At book 78 and counting, Dean Koontz has no drought of ideas

NEW YORK (AP) — Dean Koontz admits it was “kind of frustrating” a few months back when an idea that he predicted the coronavirus in his 1981 novel, “The Eyes of Darkness” took on a life of its own online.

“It was one of those internet things that’s mostly bogus,” said Koontz. “I had a book 40 years ago mention the Wuhan virus and it came from a lab in China. I didn’t make a prediction of a pandemic, it was a totally different story. My first strategy was just, ‘don’t engage in this and it will go away.’ And it just didn’t go away. Social media has got a light side and its dark side.”

The author, 75, has a new book out called “Elsewhere” about Jeffy and Amity — a single father and his 11-year-old daughter — moving through life as best they can after their wife and mother, Michelle, disappeared seven years prior. Dad meets an eccentric scientist who presents Jeffy with what’s described as a “key to everything,” holding the ability to time jump among among parallel universes. The discovery opens up a bevy of possibilities for Jeffy and Amity (including meeting up with Michelle) but also danger — because there are people who really want that key, and would kill to get it.

In a recent interview with The Associated Press, Koontz talks about his well of untouched ideas, adapting his writing for Hollywood and publishing with Amazon. Answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.

AP: You’ve written more than 100 books. Do you ever have trouble coming up with new ideas?

Koontz: I have a drawer in my office that when I get an idea that’s not too horrendous, I scribble it on a piece of paper. I put it in that drawer. And I’ve always said, “When I run out of ideas for my next book, I’ll pull one out.” I’ve never had to. There’s always new ideas. I think imagination is like a muscle and the more you use it, the more ideas come to you.

AP: “Elsewhere” paints such a vivid story. You haven’t had your writing adapted in awhile. Would you be open to that again?

Koontz: I am open to it but I never have any high expectations. My film agent has “Elsewhere” out to market. I just haven’t had a lot of luck with that. After the 1995 film “Hideaway” (starring Jeff Goldblum), I considered tying an anvil around myself and leaping off a bridge… Stephen Sommers made a very nice version of “Odd Thomas” (starring Anton Yelchin in 2013) but it was crimped by the fact that about halfway through the money ran out and he had to cut the budget, but it was still good.

AP: You now have a publishing deal with Amazon. What’s that like? A lot of authors have a love-hate relationship with Amazon.

Koontz: It always comes down to the people you deal with. It’s astonishing that everyone that I’ve been working with at Amazon have been very creative, very efficient, just fun to work with. A lot of it is it’s a younger group and that sort of astounded me, too.

AP: Do you see a point where you would want to stop writing? (Koontz has already delivered book No. 79 to his publisher.)

Koontz: I’ll probably stop when I fall dead and hit the keyboard. Time will stop everybody but I’ve had some reviews saying that the books are almost better than ever and that’s gratifying. As long as it’s still play and it’s still fun and I get positive letters from people, that’s better than sitting by the pool with an umbrella.

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