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Our Laguna: Koontz keeps audience enthralled

April 03, 2012|By Barbara Diamond
(Courtesy Laguna…)

Not all writers have the gift of gab.

Dean Koontz does. From the moment he stepped on the stage of the Laguna Playhouse on Monday, he captivated his audience.

Koontz was hosted by the Playhouse Women, a support group started in 2007 to raise funds for the theater.

The event drew fans from all around Orange County to hear Koontz talk about his work and life, some lugging as many as 35 books (Jim Tucker from Tustin and Jeramie Anderson from Covina) and some buying books from Laguna Beach Books at the event to be autographed.

Koontz had the sold-out audience in stitches as he described his childhood, which looked at another way could have been called dreary at best. He lost his mother at an early age and described his father as a drunkard, womanizer and ne'er-do-well, who had 44 jobs in 25 years.

Ah, but his dad had a sense of the absurdity of life, which he passed onto Koontz, who explores the darker realms in his books, leavened with some laugh-out-loud passages tucked in among the shivers.

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How many authors name a character "Odd"? His parents claimed it was supposed to be Todd.

Shades of Koontz's dad, an inventor who never crossed his Ts. He invented the first electric jump rope.

"He said it was for people who wanted to exercise, but not too much," Koontz said.

Another invention was a doggie bed he called the Koontz Komfy Kot.

"KKK — think about that for minute," Koontz said. "It was designed to offend just about everyone on the planet."

When it didn't sell, his dad used a friend's dog to demonstrate the efficacy of the kot, which was a foot off the floor. Fluffy didn't cooperate, so Dad flung the pup onto the kot. The dog was so scared, he urinated and just exploded off the kot, never again to trust a living soul, Koontz said.

About that time in Koontz's reminiscences, he was startled by bright spotlights suddenly beamed on him. He asked to have them dimmed.

"I feel like I might get melanoma," he said, but to no avail.

He was ready to give up after his second request. Then the spotlight not only dimmed, it went out, along with all the lights in the theater.

"Somebody has a sense of humor — or a smart ass," said the unflappable Koontz.

He went on to tell the story of an editor who thought Koontz's 900-plus-page manuscript needed to be reduced by one-third and proposed cutting out three characters to achieve his goal, an action that Koontz declined.

After struggling with cuts, the editor sent the manuscript back.

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