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When The Reading Light Went On

November 15, 1998|LIZ SEYMOUR

Dean Koontz, Author

Living in a house without books didn't stop Dean Koontz from falling in love with reading.

"I was just 3 or 4," he said, "and my mother was ill for about six months."

A family friend came over to help out. Every night, she would fix young Dean an ice cream soda, cocoon him in sheets and blankets, and read him a story from a book she had brought.

The combination of warmth and treats associated with reading got him hooked on the magic within books. "And by the time I was old enough to read, there was no stopping me," he said.

"I started writing little books when I was about 8," he said. It was early inspiration, no doubt, to a successful career writing more than 60 novels and three or four screenplays.

"Now I like to read everything, especially Jim Harrison, Anne Tyler, Elmore Leonard and the late John D. MacDonald," he said. "I read a lot of nonfiction for research."

The 53-year-old Newport Beach resident still remembers a favorite book from adolescence: "The Wind in the Willows," by Kenneth Grahame. "It's about friendship and the power of friendship," Koontz said.

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