DEAN KOONTZ TOPPED KING FOR ICKY BUG
Back in the early to mid nineties, in my mind, there were two major players when it came to icky bug. Though there were, to be fair, plenty of other authors out there plying their trade, the two heaviest hitters were Dean Koontz and Stephen King. I haven’t read every detail on Koontz, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he listed King as an influence. I could be put on a hit list for saying so but there you go.
I’ve already gone over my opinion of Mr. King’s writing, though I’m a great admirer otherwise. As for Dean Koontz, I saw one of his books in the Hastings in Altus, Oklahoma. It was on a shelf with a bunch more that told me he must be rather prolific and popular. The other thing that drew me came from the section where his titles were located. Horror (icky bug). Even back in the early nineties, he had quite a few titles to choose from. Despite other authors such as Robert McGammon and Clive Barker, I was more intrigued with his back cover blurbs and the scans I did inside each book.
It didn’t take long to become hooked on tha’ Koontz. He wrote some mean icky bug! Though he often wrote supernatural rather than out-and-out monster stories, he kept them interesting. I went through a stack of them until things came to a screeching halt with Mr. Murder. That one had nothing supernatural. It was a plain, mean-spirited evil killer, with nothing even vaguely icky or buggish about it. That was the first of Koontz’s novels I didn’t enjoy. From that point on, the novels became hit or miss.
Things took a turn for the worse in the late 2000’s when he started the Odd Thomas series. I forced myself through one of them only because I’d been such a dedicated fan. Unfortunately, he ruined everything by writing first-person. I’ll never read another Odd Thomas book. It sucked! Around that same era, he spit out a few other novels. Some of them were third and others first-person. I avoided the first-person but the third-person choices were nothing like the old Koontz I remember. Some of the quirks I used to enjoy became annoying. He turned sappy and in one glaring case, he drew unrealistic characters.
Despite the recent downturn, Dean Koontz was a big inspiration for me. He used to write some great icky bug. He has his quirks. Like King, he can get wordy, but not as bad as the master. He loves Jacaranda trees, having intelligent dogs in almost every story, and loves to throw the dictionary at the reader. There also isn’t an adverb he hasn’t liberally used. Unfortunately, as his book blurbs usually preach ad-nauseum, each story is full of hopes and dreams and some of his later ones have become almost too sappy to tolerate. That has become a quandary for me. I love his usually positive endings. That was one thing that drew me to his work. On the other hand, he gets a bit heavy-handed with the sap factor, enough to make me cringe.
He’s one of my writing heroes. I still monitor whatever he puts out, though if it’s first-person, I automatically put it down. Though I’ve been disappointed in some of his later novels, I’m not disappointed in the outcomes. The man is a master. I would love to shake his hand one day and thank him for all the reading pleasure he’s given me. His influence on my writing is subtle but came more in inspiration than actual style.