Describing Dean Koontz as a popular author of suspense novels is an understatement. His books have been published in 38 languages and sold more than 400 million copies worldwide. But what I discovered when I read his book “Brother Odd” a few years ago was that you can enjoy a Koontz story strictly for its engaging writing, characters and plot. But if you read the same story through a spiritual lens, you’ll be able to appreciate it on an even deeper level. I recently had the opportunity to interview Koontz on Christopher Closeup. Here's an excerpt:
TR: Dean, there’s a line in your latest Odd Thomas book “Odd Hours” – it’s spoken by him but I was wondering also if it reflects your own view too. The line is, “I love life because of what the beauty of this world and this life portend.” Where do you see beauty in this world and how does it point you toward the life beyond this one?
Dean Koontz: I see it everywhere in this world. I really feel for people who are depressed or think life is terrible or don’t like the world they’re living in. I just want to say to them, “Stop and look. Look at everything around you. Look at the incredible intricacy of it.” A lot of people think science has explained (everything) but it hasn’t explained anything; it’s described. The intricacy is just awesome and it’s there everywhere you look…There are so many things in the world that are here to make the world a better place that make no sense scientifically or biologically. Flowers don’t have to be beautiful; they just have to attract with pheromones of one kind or another bees that they need. So much in the world is so much more extravagant and delightful than it has to be that it points me to a creative place.
TR: So when you see mystery in the world, whereas for some people that could be a stumbling block to faith, for you it makes it more real or more appealing?
Dean Koontz: Oh yeah. I think if you look around and you say, “The world is a deeply mysterious place,” then you can’t live alone by the materialist viewpoint. You have to say, there’s deep mystery in the world. And that makes it more fabulous…Recognizing deep mystery in the world gives us a great sense of wonder – and it is a sense of wonder that makes life worth living.
TR: Dean, another thing you deal with in your books like “Brother Odd” and “One Door Away from Heaven” – you talk about the dignity of special needs children, you talk about modern bioethics. How and why did these life issues become so important to you?
Dean Koontz: My wife and I have long worked with a charity for people with disabilities – Canine Companions for Independence. They train service dogs for all kinds of people with disabilities. People who are paraplegic or quadriplegic, with one of these dogs, can live on their own when they couldn’t before. They have great effect on autistic children. Working with that and being a part of that, I saw that a lot of these people were shunted aside. There’s a lot of people who think they shouldn’t be given medical care. People like Peter Singer think a disabled child should be allowed to die or should not be give antibiotics because they have nothing to contribute to the world. (He’s) an idiot. If you bring these (disabled) people into your life, I’ve discovered – I’ve never found one who whined or complained like average people do. I’ve never found one who wasn’t grateful for every good thing that comes their way. And I haven’t found one that wasn’t an inspiration to people. If you can inspire other people by your own courage and your own stoicism, you’ve had a very valuable and important life. So they bring a great deal to the world…I’ve featured Down Syndrome kids in books at times and I’ve gotten literally thousands of letters from people who have Down’s children . Every single one of them says, “This was the best thing that happened to me.” They’re not pretending; they’re not trying to make the best of a bad situation. They’re saying it really was a tremendous benefit to their lives. That’s why I wish people would stop thinking that you have to be the perfect physical specimen in order to be worth living. That is far from the truth.
TR: Do you think that addressing those issues in story form may be a more effective way of getting the point across than say, a priest in a homily or an op-ed piece in a newspaper?
Dean Koontz: I think so because you disarm people with a story, you charm them with humor, and then you let them think about these other issues. For me, it’s a wonderful method by which to promulgate at least the thought of these things, at least to make people stop and wonder if they’re really right to think these things.
(To hear the full interview, visit www.christophers.org/closeuppodcast)