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Dean Ray Koontz (born July 9, 1945) is an American best known for his novels which could be described broadly as suspense thrillers. He also frequently incorporates elements of horror, science fiction, mystery, and satire. Several of his books have appeared on the New York Times Bestseller List, with ten hardcovers and fourteen paperbacks reaching the number one slot. Early in his career, Koontz wrote under an array of pen names.

Koontz describes his youth as one of poverty under the abuse of a tyrannical father. He graduated from Shippensburg State College (now called Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania) in 1967, and went to work as an English teacher at Mechanicsburg High School. In his spare time he wrote his first novel, Star Quest, which was published in 1968. Koontz went on to write over a dozen science fiction novels.

In the 1970s, Koontz began to grow a magnum publishing mainstream suspense and horror fiction, under his own name as well as several pseudonyms. Koontz has stated that he began using pen names after several editors convinced him that authors who switched back and forth between different genres invariably fell victim to "negative crossover" (alienating established fans and simultaneously failing to pick up any new ones). Known pseudonyms used by Koontz during his career include Deanna Dwyer, K. R. Dwyer, Aaron Wolfe, David Axton, Brian Coffey, John Hill, Leigh Nichols, Owen West, Richard Paige, Leonard Chris, and Anthony North. Many of Koontz's pseudonymous novels are now available under his real name.

Koontz's acknowledged breakthrough novel was Whispers, published in 1980. Since then, ten hardcovers and thirteen paperbacks written by Koontz have reached #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List.

In 1997, psychologist Katherine Ramsland published an extensive biography of Koontz based on interviews with him and his family. Titled Dean Koontz: A Writer's Biography, this "psychobiography" (as Ramsland called it) often showed the conception of Koontz's characters and plots from events in his own life.

Early author photos on the back of many of his novels show a balding Koontz with a mustache. After Koontz underwent hair transplantation surgery in the late 1990s, his subsequent books have featured a new clean-shaven appearance with a fuller head of hair. Koontz explained the change by claiming that he was tired of looking like G. Gordon Liddy.

Since 1988 Koontz has contributed almost $73,000 to conservative Republican candidates and causes, of recent notability to the US Presidential campaigns of Mitt Romney and John McCain.

As of 2006, Koontz resides in Newport Beach, California, where many of his novels are set. He lives with his wife Gerda. In 2008 he was listed as the sixth highest-paid author, in a tie with John Grisham.

In August, 2009, Phillip Craig Garrido, the pædophile rapist kidnapper of Jaycee Lee Dugard, was discovered to be a fan of Dean Koontz, with many of his novels featuring in press photographs of bookshelves at Garrido's home, where he confined Dugard and her children.

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