Off the Shelf: Koontz talks Odd Thomas

Known for his bestselling suspense thrillers, Dean Koontz has incorporated elements of science fiction, horror, and fantasy into his books.

Known for his bestselling suspense thrillers, Dean Koontz has incorporated elements of science fiction, horror, and fantasy into his books, along with spiritual grounding.

When Koontz writes about the battle between good and evil, he speaks from experience.  He endured a frightening childhood with a violent alcoholic father, but found happiness and stability in his long-term marriage.  He also converted to Catholicism, and though he later went through a period of questioning that faith, he has returned to it.

No matter how dark a path his characters travel, good usually triumphs, and every life is shown to have value and meaning.  This is evident in his most popular character, Odd Thomas, a humble fry cook who “sees the lingering dead” and is called upon to do battle against evil forces to help those in need.

Odd Thomas returns in Odd Apocalypse, the fifth book of seven planned in a series with Odd’s name.  Publishers Weekly recently interviewed Koontz about his life and work. What follows are excerpts:

PW: You weave spiritual themes into your books that are integral to your own beliefs, correct?

DK: The spiritual element has been in my work for a long time, but I don’t write from a religious perspective so much as from a point of view that says life has meaning and that this meaning makes life precious.

PW: How has Odd Thomas evolved for you?

DK: When I wrote the first Odd book, I knew only that he was extremely humble – you don’t see humility in male action-series characters – and that his psychic gift required him to lead a simple existence. He is on a journey to ultimate humility, exploring the features and strengths of that quality over seven books.

PW: You have not been happy with film and television adaptations of your work, but you are excited about the upcoming Odd Thomas movie. Why is this different?

DK: Odd is as vivid to me as if he were a real person. I have had such bad luck with Hollywood, I thought I would never allow anyone to put him on film. Then Stephen Sommers (The Mummy) called and walked me through what he thought the character was about. He didn’t strike a false note. And then he wrote a perfect screenplay. It’s exhilarating. I’ve seen the finished film, and I am finally able to rave about a movie based on my work.

Odd Thomas, the film adaptation of Koontz’s series, stars Willem Dafoe (Anton Yelchin portrays Odd), and is projected to be released in 2013. The first five titles in the Odd series are available in regular print, large print and on CD through the Okanagan Regional Library. Odd Apocalypse is also available as a seven-day quick read.

–– Maureen Curry is the chief librarian of the Vernon branch of the Okanagan Regional Library.