Supernatural Evil and Good in the Novels of Dean Koontz: 
Toward a Theology of Hope

by Steve W. Lemke
for the Art, Literature, and Religion Section
of the Southwest Regional Meeting of the American Academy of Religion


Introduction

Over the last two decades, Dean Koontz has become one of the most popular writers in the suspense genre. His novels have met with enormous success, selling over 200 million copies, translated into 38 languages, with 17 number one best sellers.(1) In his best seller suspense novels such as Intensity, Icebound, Sole Survivor, Tick Tock, Hideaway, and Strange Highways, author Dean Koontz portrays a number of images of God. Koontz's novels usually portray people attempting to deal with incarnate evil in virtually hopeless situations, perhaps in part due to his own negative experiences as a child. Koontz's most typical religious theme, that of good being confronted with radical evil, is very evident in Hideaway, Sole Survivor, and Strange Highways.

I first discovered Koontz's work through some audio tapes of his novels. Several questions arose in my mind, which I will seek to answer in this paper:

(a) Is there in fact an identifiable and distinguishable Dean Koontz theology?

(b) If so, what is the theology that emerges in the novels of Dean Koontz? Can it be described and systematized?

(c) If so, how appropriate is the genre of popular suspense fiction to advance theological claims?

Developing a Koontzian Hermeneutic

The Psychological Interpretation

One obvious approach to interpreting Koontz is to read him in the light of his experience. His upbringing in a home dominated by an alcoholic, neurotic father apparently colors his perception of reality. Dean's father was diagnosed with both degenerative alcohol syndrome and schizophrenia, and twice tried to kill Dean with a knife. It is no wonder, then, that Dean could say, "It's so sad to say, but I cannot remember a single pleasant moment involving my father from over forty years of memories. They're all dark."(2) Perhaps Koontz's most direct reference to his father was in Dark Rivers of the Heart, in which a sociopathic murderer, Steven Ackblom, kills his wife and attempts to stab his son Spencer with a knife.(3) Sociopathic men (like his father) and heroic women (like Dean's mother and his wife Gerda) are frequent in his novels. For example, in The Voice of the Night, Koontz describes a fourteen year old boy named Colin who "is exactly like I was as a boy,"(4) while the sociopath Roy (very close to Ray, his father's name) threatens Colin, the unprotected child. A girl Heather comes to Colin's aid, just as Gerda helped rescue Dean's life.(5) In another example, Koontz describes how his father's action impacted his writing of Whispers:

My childhood was a nightmare . . . . Anyway, throughout my childhood and adolescence, I saw my own father betray me and my mother in all the most fundamental ways, again and again, times without number, and that is why Whispers deals with children betrayed by their parents and with betrayal in general . . . . And somehow the strongest of us are made stronger by being betrayed, and we go on -- like Hilary in Whispers. And those who can't handle it are sometimes transformed into men like Bruno Frye. How could a writer not be fascinated by that theme?(6)

So if Koontz is indeed writing out of his own experience, as he claims, it would suggest that there are confessional elements in his novels. The spiritual struggles which he enunciates through his characters are to some degree Koontz's own struggles. But it would be a mistake to denigrate Koontz's theological claims because of the confessional nature of his writing. Truth discovered through experience and adversity is truth to be taken seriously.

The Genre Issue

Dean Koontz's novels have been variously classified as science fiction, horror, suspense, technothriller, parapsychological drama, popular romance, police procedural, or mystery. Indeed, in his early novels Koontz experimented with each of these genres under a different pseudonym. But his mature style, which began with the publication of Whispers in 1980, Koontz consciously wrote cross-genre works which included elements of all these genres.(7) The cross-genre approach was against the advice of his agent and publisher, who sought to pigeon hole him in just one genre in order to achieve reader loyalty. So, for his mature works, Joan Kotker is right when she affirms that since Koontz calls himself a cross-genre writer, it seems best to accept "the revolutionary assumption that very possibly the author knows best what kind of books he writes."(8)

The primary motif in Koontz's later novels, however, is dark suspense. Koontz distinguishes two subgenres in his novels --supernatural fiction novels and psychological suspense novels. In the supernatural fiction novels, a supernatural spirit or alien being torments the hero. Koontz's supernaturalism is much more evident in this genre. He counts among his early works Darkfall, The Funhouse, The Mask, Hideaway, and The Servants of Twilight as examples of the supernatural fiction category. Because of the emphasis on supernatural beings, this subgenre would seem to be closer to the horror genre, but Koontz does not write these as traditional horror stores because he tends "not to write about vampires, werewolves, haunted houses, or house pets that die and then return from the Other Side with a maniacal determination to wreak vengeance . . . ."(9) The psychological suspense novels have no obvious supernatural intervention, and tend to be character driven. These novels usually involve a sociopathic killer or mad scientist who create the plot of the story. The evil protagonist is skilled, powerful, and insidious, but is merely a human who acts without supernatural intervention. Most of Koontz's more recent novels such as Intensity, Icebound, and Sole Survivor fall into this category.

It might seem that the supernatural fiction subgenre would be the place to begin in developing Koontz's theology, but I believe that these works should be approached with considerable hermeneutical suspicion. The evil spirits in works such as Tick Tock and some of the shorter novels in Strange Highways are so surrealistic as to call into question the suspension of disbelief usually accorded an author. I doubt seriously that Koontz believes that such supernatural spirits terrorize unsuspecting persons, at least to the degree presented in the horror suspense genre. Like most works in the horror genre, these novels are written essentially in the genre of divine comedy, with an aspect of morality play and Aristotelian catharsis. The reader of a horror suspense novel is drawn into a desperate and hopeless world, and then returns to a normal world which somehow looks much brighter. The spirits are not literally real, but symbolic of evil. So, with regard to understanding Koontz's theology, the supernatural fiction genre will be considered as an affirmation of the supernatural, but this study will focus on the more realistic accounts in his psychological suspense novels.

Suspense and Theology

Dean Koontz's pilgrimage of faith is a rocky one. He attended a Protestant church (United Church of Christ) during his youth, but was converted to the Catholicism of his beloved Gerda. He had a period of anger against God following the death of his mother, in which his science fiction novels often portrayed God in very negative ways. However, Koontz returned to belief (if not expressed in organized religion) through his reading of physics: " . . . one cannot be aware of many recent developments in physics and still cling happily to agnosticism or atheism," and he acknowledges that his books are not only optimistic but "crammed full of faith."(10)

Clearly, Dean Koontz writes within a theological framework. A few of his works make minimal theological claims, but most address a number of theological issues. In Intensity and Icebound, people with minimal religious convictions reach out to God for hope in the midst of desperate situations. The religious symbols in his novels are usually Christian, but in Tick Tock Koontz portrays an angry spirit from Vietnamese religion. His most overt theological works are two novellas in the Strange Highways collection, "Strange Highways" and "Twilight of the Dawn," which recount the pilgrimage of two persons back to God. In The Bad Place, a boy suffering from Down's syndrome named Thomas is a Christ figure because he sacrifices himself for Julie and Bobby, while another protagonist, Frank (whose middle name is Ezekiel) sacrifices himself for Candy. Using also obvious Christian symbols such as the stigmata, Koontz boldly declares, "This book is based on the Christian mythos. Thomas was Christ."(11) Similar images infuse Sole Survivor, in which the protagonists Joe Carpenter (reminiscent of Joseph the carpenter, Jesus' father) and Rose Tucker (who, like Mary, helped without sexual intercourse to create a holy child) are the protectors of the Christ figure Nina (meaning "grace" in Hebrew and "little child" in Spanish.(12) Some of Koontz's other works express biblical allegories such as the Garden of Eden.(13) Nonetheless, few critics have noticed the religious symbolism in Koontz's works.(14)

Throughout Koontz's later works, his allusions to Christian terminology are too numerous to ignore. While many of the theological terms he uses are applied by analogy to secular situations, at the very least Koontz employs the "language of the kingdom" to convey his thoughts. For example, in Dark Rivers of the Heart, nearly one hundred different theological and ecclesiastical terms appear, as are enumerated below. It must be emphasized that in this novel, none of the major characters are actively religious, and no scenes take place on church property. Yet all of the following theological terms appear, many of them multiple times. Many of the theological terms express half of a dualism of good and evil: "heaven" and "hell," "paradise" and "hades," "light" and "darkness," "Jesus" and "Satan," "angels" and "devils," "saints" and "demons," "state of grace" and "sinful act," "righteous" and "evil," "innocence" and "culpability," "mercy" and "judgment," and "salvation" and "sin."(15) Other theological words used include "God Almighty," "Christlike," "holy ground," "sacred," "reverence," "believe," "trust," "faith," "hope," "belief in God," "evidence for God's existence," "evil," "creation," "God's high table," "Biblical," "miracle," "divine power," "spirit," "spirituality," "spiritual being," "souls," "preordained," "destiny," "peace," "hope," "forgiving," "compassion," and "purged."(16)

A number of ecclesiological terms appear, including "church," "cathedral," "temple," "monastery," "seminary," "confessional," "reliquary," "priest," "confessor," "Pope," "monks," "Carmelite nun," "novice," "Christian," "Nazarene," "sermon," "confession," "penance," "votive candles,"and "gospel singing."(17) A number of eschatological terms are mentioned, including "heaven," "hell," "new Eden," "life beyond this one," "perfect world," "that far and better shore," "celestial waiting room," "judgment documents," "a better world," "apocalypse," "destiny," "paradise," "eternal peace," and "eternity."(18)

There are a number of biblical allusions in the novel, including an enticing Eve and Eden, Noah and the flood, Jesus walking on the water, the need to let one's candle light shine into worldly darkness, God's watchfulness over even the sparrow, the parable of the good Samaritan, and the salvation of St. Peter. From Christian history, Koontz develops motifs from both the catacombs of the persecuted early church and from C. S. Lewis' idea in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe that there are entry and exit points between parallel worlds. In addition, Koontz has no less than seven separate prayers to God voiced by individuals in crises.(19) The frequency and conjunction of all these theological terms would rarely be found outside of a systematic theology text!

Suspense fiction might appear at first blush to be a surprising medium for theological discussions. How apposite is a suspense novel as a medium for conveying theological truths? In some ways Koontz reminds one of Søren Kierkegaard, an author whom Dean read and appreciated.(20) Both began their writing careers with pseudonymous authorship, only to write under their actual names later. Both utilized humor and satire. Both communicate their message (if there is one) by rather indirect communication, especially in presenting theological claims not by self-assured preachers but by flawed persons who have little relation to the church. It may be that Kierkegaard was more intentional in communicating a specifically Christian message than Koontz appears to be. If so, Koontz might be closer to William Shakespeare or Fyodor Dostoievsky, who likewise utilized a number of biblical, theological, and ecclesiastical terms and motifs without making their novels an overtly religious work. However, literary critic Bill Munster argues that although Koontz's works have been praised as exciting and interesting reads, "it's clear that at the same time Koontz is also using the horror/suspense novel as a vehicle for another purpose."(21) Koontz's own comments that he wanted "to write a thriller that transcended the genre . . . . I wanted not only to thrill and spook, but to engender a really overwhelming sense of mystery, wonder, awe, and a sense of pride and excitement in the whole . . . human race."(22)

Although it might not appear so at first, a suspense novel might actually be an effective means of communicating theological claims. The experience of being over against the extreme evils of life is frequently a time that many people begin to ask theological questions. Some of Frank Peretti's novels and the thrillers of Jefferson Scott, (another nom de plume), use the suspense genre as a medium for conveying Christian values more explicitly.(23) Although a suspense novel may not be the usual place one encounters God, the crisis created in a suspense novel certainly creates a situation in which divine hope can uplift and deliver the novel's wounded heros.

Koontz's Theology of Hope

The following points sketch out an outline of the theology which emerges from Koontz's novels:

(a) The worldview which emerges in Dean Koontz's novels is one infused with supernaturalism. One sees this emphasis most readily in his supernatural fiction novels, but in virtually all of his works. Earthly decisions have eternal import, reminiscent of the supernaturalism in Frank Peretti's popular religious novels. Although Koontz himself was a professing atheist for spent about a year, he now finds atheism untenable and disingenuous:

It's always been interesting to me that of all the atheists I've ever known, I have seen them react to issues as if they believe there's a God. And I've never seen an atheist who fails to have a sense of the uncanny, but they never recognize it as being at odds with their professed lack of belief. They have an appreciation at the unconscious level of the wonder of the universe that is hard to explain in a mechanistic manner. I've heard atheists, enraptured, talk about the wonders of nature, using words like "miraculous."

I'm always amazed at how many people will argue against God by saying that evolution proves there is no God. I don't discount the theory of evolution, but I don't think it throws out the idea of a created universe. Evolution could be the mechanism by which God works.(24)

Although impatient with both organized religion and New Age subjectivism, Koontz's

theism insists on a transcendent source of meaning.

(b) Koontz's supernaturalistic worldview is framed in a dualism of good and evil. This is not a body/soul dualism of Greek thought or the yin/yang dualism of Taoism, but a good/evil dualism which reminds one of Zoroastrianism and Manichaeanism. The forces of evil are not benign and innocuous, but sinister and powerful. If anything, the forces of evil appear to overwhelm the forces of good. For example the germinal idea behind Koontz's best selling novel Hideaway was "to write about people confronted with genuine evil in an antireligious age that denied the existence of Evil with a capital E, that insisted on Freudian shades of gray. How would a modern couple cope and adapt to the sudden possibility of the uncanny and the spiritual?"(25) For Koontz, evil is a pervasive and dangerous reality.

Some of Koontz's characters raise basic questions about the problem of evil -- why does God allow suffering? For example, protagonist Spencer Grant in Dark Rivers of the Heart poignantly raises classical theodicy questions:

Where is God? What does God care? Why has He abandoned them all here? Why has He abandoned me?(26)

In Winter Moon , Koontz raises through the voice of a child the question of why God would create cats and mice to be involved in their endless life and death battle.(27) Usually the theodicy questions are answered either by an appeal to mystery (that there is no logical explanation on this side of eternity for the extent and malevolence of evil and suffering) or to a soul-making solution (that suffering is of disciplinary and soul-building value). In Winter Moon, for example, Koontz inserts the following commentary: "It was a cold and uncaring universe, either because God had made it that way as a test to determine good souls from bad, or simply because that was the way it was."(28) But as Koontz's protagonists struggle with evil, they often call upon God to deliver them in their time of crisis. These prayers do not go unanswered, even if the means of the deliverance is the intelligence and will to live that God has given them. The protagonists also do in fact achieve a more meaningful life through the crucible of their trials.

(c) We have access to Koontz's anthropology through his predominant use of the third person omniscient perspective, which allows us to see the motivations and thoughts of each character.(29) The anthropology which emerges Dean Koontz's novels is both realistic and optimistic, one which takes both the possibility of human depravity and the imago dei very seriously. Humans are capable of unthinkable evil. We are also susceptible to the vicissitudes of fate. The psychological suspense novels depict madmen antagonists who are not merely psychologically flawed or acting out of compulsion. These are men who knowingly and willingly choose evil. They are not in need of therapy; they are in need of salvation. Nonetheless, Koontz maintains an essentially optimistic anthropology. Humans are created in the image of God, and thus are capable of doing great good:

I am a raving optimist. There are those among us who are vile and wicked, yes, but they're the genetic freaks, the failures in the species. I thing for the most part that the human species is indeed a reflection of something godlike and that within us is the potential for wonders. I like people.(30)

Trained in college to develop his characters with Freudian analysis, Koontz's early novels used this technique. But two factors -- one experiential and one stylistic-- led him to abandon the Freudian approach to characterization. Experientially, Koontz's rejection of exclusively Freudian interpretations began with his coming to grips with his father's role in his unhappy childhood. Ray Koontz was not deranged or mad due to traumatic events in his childhood; he was simply evil. Other people (such as Dean's mother or Dean himself) were victimized with unhappy circumstances, yet they did not respond in the same way. In fact, almost all of Koontz's heroes were survivors of traumatic events, and yet they still were seeking fulfillment and meaning in life. So, Koontz reasoned, there must be another factor besides early childhood events which determine one's character. Dragon Tears was one of his first novels which could be classified as anti-Freudian, but it was in Dark Rivers of the Heart, the novel in which he deals most specifically with his abusive father, that Koontz assaults the "lie of Freudian theory."(31) A similar line of thought is developed in Intensity, in which the female protagonist Chyna finds her graduate training in criminal psychology to be inadequate to account for the raw evil she encounters in the sociopath Edgler Vess. Vess did not have a traumatic childhood or any other obvious precipitating event for his criminality; he simply loves to kill. The error of Freudian theory is, for Koontz, that it absolves us of responsibility for making good or evil choices by placing that responsibility on parents and society.(32) But evil is too real and too devastating to be so easily excused. Koontz speaks this concern through the female protagonist Connie Gulliver in Dragon Tears:

These days, if your life is screwed up, if you've failed your family and friends, it's never your fault. You're a drunkard? Why, maybe it's a genetic predisposition. You're a compulsive adulterer, have a hundred sex partners a year? Well, maybe you just never felt loved as a child, maybe your parents never gave you all the cuddling you needed. it's crap, all of it . . . . You just blew some shopkeeper's head off or beat some old lady to death for twenty bucks? Why you're not a bad guy, no, you're not to blame! Your parents are to blame, your teachers are to blame, society is to blame, all of Western culture is to blame, but not you, never you, how crass to suggest such a thing, how insensitive, how hopelessly old-fashioned.(33)

Stylistically, Koontz's rereading of Charles Dickens led to the discovery that in Dickens' characterization, "life is a test," and "character is built out of adversity, not diminished by it," --

So I had this revelation: Good and interesting characters grew not out of flashbacks to how they were formed by their childhood experiences. Good characters evolved out of basically two things: their actions and operative beliefs.(34)

This realistic anthropology applies not only to Koontz's villains, but also his heroes. The heroes of his stories are not knights in shining armor; they are consistently persons who have been wounded, abused, and damaged. His heroes are not supermen, but wounded everyman or everywoman. Many have been orphaned or have experienced extreme trauma or grief of some kind. The heroes are extraordinary not in their skill or nobility, but only in their determination to survive, and in the extraordinariness of their circumstances in the midst of an unremarkable (if fated) life. These life challenges are not limited to Koontz's heroes, however, but are the norm of human life. As both the male and female heroes of "Chase" enunciate on several occasions in the novella, "Everyone is damaged."(35)

In most of his novels, Dean Koontz breaks the mold of a suspense genre hero by having heroines as protagonists. These heroines often echo the strength in the face of adversity he saw in his mother or the creative intelligence of his wife Gerda. These are not weak women waiting passively for a male hero to rescue them from their desperate circumstances. In fact, in stories such as Dark Rivers of the Heart and Sole Survivor, it is the female protagonist who rescues the male protagonist. The female protagonists in his various novels work in nontraditional female roles -- particle physicist, psychologist, film producer, computer software designer, heart surgeon, scientist, National Transportation Safety Board inspector, and body building policewoman. So Koontz's works easily admit of a feminist interpretation.(36)

What distinguishes all Koontz's heroes is their dogged determination and grit to live, to survive despite all the evil things that have befallen them. It is this rugged determination to live which fuels the hope that survival and meaning are attainable.

They struggle against almost impossible odds with a desperate hope and will to live. This reflects the other pole of Koontz's anthropology, an incredibly optimistic hope that things will get better for humanity. As Koontz said in one interview,

My books are about the great value of the individual . . . . With this philosophy, I am of course a thoroughgoing optimist, a believer in people and in the future, and my optimism makes my fiction considerably different from that of nearly anyone else I can think of in the dark suspense and dark fantasy genres, where misanthropy of one degree or another colors the work of virtually every writer.(37)

It is in fact this anthropological optimism which most clearly distinguishes the

pessimism of Stephen King's supernatural horror from the more realistic and optimistic

approach of Koontz.(38)

While holding an optimistic view of individual persons, Koontz tends to distrust societal institutions. An idealistic political liberal in his college days, Koontz became a teacher in the Appalachian Poverty Program soon after graduation. Despite his good intentions and commitment to this social welfare program, Koontz discovered that the program's bureaucracy was impersonal, uncaring, and wasteful. He also found that the program killed initiative and created a feeling of entitlement in the very persons whom the program was designed to benefit.(39) So Koontz came to adopt a somewhat libertarian philosophy which was distrustful of government, especially when power is concentrated in secret agencies. The horror plot in many of his works is driven by some madman entrusted by the government to do some special project, for "the government, particularly the military and intelligence agencies, provides a petry dish in which madness can thrive, and madmen can attain high seats of authority."(40) Koontz's anthropology is thus much nearer (an admittedly more circumspect and realistic version of) Jean-Jacques Rousseau, with his Romanticist faith in the individual and distrust in society, than he is to Thomas Hobbes's negative view of individuals and elevated view of the state. Like Rousseau, Koontz appears to believe that if left uncontaminated by the state, individuals at least have the choice of choosing good and achieving a meaningful life.

The quest for life and meaning which Koontz's heroes have usually drives them toward religious commitments. Almost without exception, the heroes had an early Christian upbringing but have long since fallen into unbelief. The heroes are frequently engaged in a quest for meaning and purpose in life which they have not yet achieved. These heroes do not necessarily find salvation or reconciliation to the church, but are moved back toward God. The soteriology which arises in Koontz's work is seen best in Strange Highways. The hero, Joey Shannon, is given several chances to right the wrongs earlier in his life. Only when he takes up a crucifix is he able to quiet the demons of his past. The battle that the heroes fight is not against flesh and blood, but against supernatural evil. The heroes characteristically find even various firearms and other weapons ineffective against these principalities, powers, and spiritual wickedness in high places. Ultimately they are saved by grace, not by their works, or at least a concurrence of divine and human effort.

Koontz's characters are both free and determined. The characters in his novels are confronted by incredible natural and supernatural forces, and yet they still have a measure of free choice. Koontz appears to resolve this dilemma by simply asserting without argument "the parallel rails of free choice and destiny"(41) Both freewill and predestination are true. The characters move toward their destiny, but in some way their choices helped shape that destiny.

The theology one might surmise from Dean Koontz's novels is one which emphasizes hope and faith. Yet this hope and faith are directed toward a God who is not imminent, but rather distant, transcendent, and inaccessible. This God is not unknowable, however, but can be known through faith-guided intelligence. As Koontz wrote to one of his readers,

I believe there is a certain pattern to the universe and that life has meaning, and I think that our species' intellect is the link with God by which we will approach a state of grace here on Earth . . . . If God exists, He provided us with high intelligence so we could question, reflect, and struggle to find and understand Him; the application of that intelligence in probing the world around us is perhaps a more sincere expression of faith than endless hours of prayer.(42)

Hope and Real Life

Perhaps Dean Koontz's novels are meant to do nothing more than to entertain. They do that well. But the consistent message of Koontz's later work is the value of faith, hope, and life. Those themes are obviously consistent with the Christian message. The catharsis of suspense salted with hope is a recipe Dean Koontz uses effectively to express his own faith, and to evoke the faith his readers. In a world filled with despair, there is encouragement in a message of hope.

Bibliography

Works by Dean Koontz

Koontz, Dean. Dark Rivers of the Heart. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1994.

_______. Dragon Tears. New York: Berkley Books, 1993.

_______. Fear Nothing. New York: Bantam Books, 1998.

_______. Hideaway. New York: Berkley Books, 1992.

_______. How to Write Best-selling Fiction. Cincinnati: Writer's Digest Books, 1981.

_______. Midnight. New York: Berkley Books, 1989.

_______. Mr. Murder. New York: Berkley Books, 1993.

_______. Sole Survivor. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1997.

_______. Strange Highways. New York: Warner Vision Books, 1995.

_______. The Door to December. New York: Penguin Books, 1985.

_______. The House of Thunder. New York: Berkley Books, 1982.

_______. Watchers. New York: Berkley Books, 1987.

_______. Winter Moon. New York: Ballentine Books, 1994.

Works about Dean Koontz

Greenberg, Martin H., Ed Gorman and Bill Munster, eds. The Dean Koontz Companion.

New York: Berkley Books, 1994.

Kotker, Joan G. Dean Koontz: A Critical Companion. Critical Companions to Popular Contemporary Writers series, ed. Kathleen Gregory Klein. London: Greenwood Press, 1996.

Landsdale, Joe R. "Dean of Suspense: An Interview with Dean R. Koontz," Twilight Zone Magazine (December 1986).

Munster, Bill, ed. Sudden Fear: The Horror and Dark Suspense Fiction of Dean R. Koontz. Starmont Studies in Literary Criticism, #24. San Bernadino: Borgo Press, 1988.

Ramsland, Katherine. Dean Koontz: A Writer's Biography. New York: HarperCollins, 1997.

1. Katherine Ramsland, Dean Koontz: A Writer's Biography (New York: HarperCollins), 442.

2. Martin H. Greenberg, Ed Gorman, and Bill Munster, eds., The Dean Koontz Companion (New York: Berkley Books, 1994), 8-9.

3. Ramsland, 420-422.

4. Dean Koontz, How to Write Best-selling Fiction (Cincinnati: Writer's Digest Books, 1981), 70.

5. Ramsland, 253-255.

6. Bill Munster, ed. Sudden Fear: The Horror and Dark Suspense Fiction of Dean R. Koontz. Starmont Studies in Literary Criticism, #24 (San Bernadino: Borgo Press, 1988), 18-19.

7. Greenberg, Gorman, and Munster, 34-37. Koontz experimented with several different genre in his early writing career. He write under a dozen different pseudonyms, each identified with a particular genre, on the advice from his agent and publisher that the public would not accept an author who wrote in different genres. Many of Koontz's pre-1980 works were in the science fiction genre, dealing with supernatural or alien beings invading the earth. However, after 1980 he began writing cross-genre works which tended to be more realistic and psychological.

8. Joan G. Kotker, Dean Koontz: A Critical Companion. Critical Companions to Popular Contemporary Writers series, ed. Kathleen Gregory Klein (London: Greenwood Press, 1996), 11-19.

9. Dean Koontz, "Notes to the Reader," in Strange Highways (New York: Warner Vision Books, 1995), 610-611. The one work which I might question Koontz's classification system is the novella "Strange Highways," since no supernatural beings appear, while Koontz counts it as supernatural because of the supernatural intervention which allows the wounded hero, Joey Shannon, repeated chances to straighten out his life.

10. Ragsland, 297; c.f. 26, 64-66, 76-77, 81-92, 104, 111, 113, 125-128, 147-150, 171-179, 187, 200, 276, 291-297, 313, 316, 325-326, 334-335, 369, 377; and Greenberg, Gorman, and Munster, 51.

11. Ibid., 368-372. Kotker also compares The Bad Place to the Christian allegory in the Pilgrim's Progress of John Bunyan. See Kotker, 117-120.

12. Ramsland, 448.

13. Ibid., 172-177, 446-448.

14. Kotker, 117-120.

15. Dean Koontz, Dark Rivers of the Heart (New York: Knopf, 1994). Representative examples of usages of these terms are on pp. 36, 41, 59, 82, 93, 96, 109, 111, 127, 145, 155, 167, 225, 230, 237-238, 270-271, 291, 321, 367, 385, 392-393, 414, 427, 452, and 459.

16. For representative examples of the usage of these theological terms, see Ibid., 5, 8, 30, 36, 41, 46, 58-59, 76, 93, 125, 128, 143, 155, 167, 192, 198, 210, 241, 269-270, 302, 335, 364, 392-393, 405-406, 414, 435, 440-441, 447, 459, and 461.

17. For representative examples of the usage of these ecclesiastical terms, see Ibid., 4-5, 59, 77-78, 128, 133, 143, 151, 180, 23, 266, 342, 357, 371, 428, 441, 447, and 459.

18. For representative examples of the usage of these eschatological terms, see Ibid., 32, 35-36, 82, 109, 123-124, 127, 167, 210, 237, 270, 291.

19. Representative examples of Koontz's usage of these biblical and theological references and prayers are in Ibid., 29-30, 57-58, 82, 145, 158, 189, 205-206, 211, 238, 268, 405, 414, 427, 441, 451-452.

20. Ragsland, 187-188.

21. Stan Brooks, "Dark Genesis: Watchers and Shadowfires," in Munster, 104.

22. Joe R. Landsdale, "Dean of Suspense: An Interview with Dean R. Koontz," Twilight Zone Magazine (December 1986), 24.

23. Frank Peretti, This Present Darkness (Westchester: Crossway, 1986); Piercing the Darkness (Westchester: Crossway, 1989); and Jefferson Scott, Virtually Eliminated (Portland: Multnomah, 1996); Terminal Logic (Portland: Multnomah, 1997), Fatal Defect: A Genetic Thriller (Portland: Multnomah, 1998).

24. Dean Koontz, cited in Ramsland, 325-326.

25. Ibid., 386.

26. Koontz, Dark Rivers of the Heart, 448.

27. Dean Koontz, Winter Moon (New York: Ballentine Books, 1994), 24-27.

28. Ibid., 111.

29. Kotker, 32, 52-53, 65-66, 81, 98-99, 116-117, 134-135.

30. Munster, 29.

31. Ragsland, 82, 158, 170, 172, 214, 241, 243, 263-264, 395, 414; c.f. Gorman, Greenberg, and Munster, 48-49.

32. Ragsland, 434-436.

33. Dean Koontz, Dragon Tears (New York: Berkley Books, 1993), 213.

34. Ramsland, 264.

35. Dean Koontz, "Chase," in Strange Highways, 572, 601.

36. Kotker, 54-57, 155-157, 169-171; and Elizabeth Massie, "Femmes Fatales? The Women Protagonists in Four Koontz Novels," in Munster, 155-170.

37. Dean Koontz, cited in Stan Brooks, "The Mutation of a Science Fiction Writer," in Munster, 81.

38. Michael R. Collings, "Dean R. Koontz and Stephen King: Style, Invasion, and an Aesthetics of Horror," in Munster, 63.

39. Ramsland, 100-111.

40. Dean Koontz, cited in Stan Brooks, "The Mutation of a Science Fiction Writer," in Munster, 78.

41. Koontz, Dark Rivers of the Heart, 428.

42. Dean Koontz, cited in Ramsland, 334-335.