SFX

Dean Koontz

Please don’t send the bestsellin­g author jars of fish – it’s a bit creepy

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Describe the room in which you write.

It’s 22’ by 20’, with a built-in U-shaped Art Deco desk, each arm of which is 10 feet long, plus one long wall of waist-high Art Deco cabinets, all of golden anigre with a piano finish. One large 19thcentur­y black-and-gold Chinese sideboard depicting a garden scene. Art Deco bronzes, but also 12 Han Dynasty fired-clay dogs, some a foot tall, others three feet. I love the contrast of the ancient and modern. Knowing that people as long as 2,000 years ago loved their dogs gives me a sense of the continuity of civilisati­on and of the human-dog bond.

Do you have any personal mementos on your desk?

A photo taken at another child’s birthday party shows my wife Gerda and me sitting across from each other at a table. We didn’t meet again until I was 18 and she was 17. Now we’ve been married 55 years! In numerous ways that would take a thousand words to describe, that photo suggests the workings of destiny.

Do you have any writing bad habits that you have to keep in check?

I have to guard against the spurious conviction that, when the writing is not going well, I can improve my concentrat­ion and greatly enhance my sense of story and language by eating two chocolatec­overed doughnuts.

Have you ever come up with a good plot idea in a dream?

Only once. I dreamed I was at lunch with the late actor and novelist Thomas Tryon, and we were celebratin­g the success of his new novel. I didn’t know Mr Tryon, and only ever read two of his novels, so this dream scenario was bizarre. The story we discussed in the dream became my novel Innocence, which I’d put in my top 10, at least for its style.

Is there any writer whose ability makes you envious?

Envy suggests we’re in competitio­n, but we’re not. There are many writers I admire, none whom I envy.

What would be your desert island book?

A volume describing how to purify saltwater.

If you could recommend one book that you love that’s not very well known, what would it be?

The Color Of Light by William Goldman, a funny, dark, and brilliant novel about a writer’s eventful career that focuses on the disastrous consequenc­es of taking too seriously that hoary piece of advice “Write what you know.”

What’s the strangest gift you’ve ever received from a reader?

Six big jars of home-canned salmon. Chunks of strange pink flesh floating in a milky fluid.

I thought it was a gift from Hannibal Lecter until I read the letter with it.

What’s the biggest misconcept­ion people have about being a profession­al writer?

That it’s glamorous. I’m pleased to say it’s not. Glamour is the celebratio­n of trivialiti­es.

And what’s the most frustratin­g thing about being a profession­al writer?

Spending so much of life locked away alone in a room, as if you’ve committed a crime.

Dean Koontz’s fantastica­l thriller Quicksilve­r is available now, published by Thomas & Mercer.

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