Turning a Page on Mystery and Intrigue


An Evening with Dean Koontz at Laguna Playhouse


Among best-selling contemporary American authors, Newport Beach’s Dean Koontz, whose books have sold 400 million copies translated into 38 languages, nearly tops the list. The author’s success even translates into other media, serving as the platform for audio books, films and television shows.

Koontz is moving to yet another medium on Monday, April 2, at 7 p.m., where he will showcase his talent with the spoken word at Laguna Playhouse at the invitation of Playhouse Women, a support group.

Introduced and moderated by author Barbara DeMarco-Barrett, “An Evening With Dean Koontz” is a presentation for an audience intrigued by an insider’s view from the top-tier of published authors and a rare glimpse into past and recent projects and those coming up in the near future.

DeMarco-Barrett is the best-selling author of “Pen on Fire: A Busy Woman’s Guide to Igniting the Writer Within” and host of KUCI radio programs Writers on Writing and the Pen on Fire Writers Salon.

Designed in a Q&A format, the evening may also offer insight into Koontz, who after winning a fiction award from Atlantic Monthly as a college senior turned writing into a career.

If the hair-raising plots typical of Koontz’ novels serve as a guide, the evening promises suspense and intrigue as well.

Asked by one reader how much his work revealed of himself, Koontz, 66, wrote: “Everything I believe about life and death, culture and society, relationships and the self, God and nature–everything winds up in the books, not in one more than another, but equally, title after title. A body of work, therefore, reveals the intellectual and emotional progress of the writer, and is a map of his soul. It’s both terrifying and liberating to consider this aspect of being a novelist.”

After graduating from Pennsylvania’s Shippensburg State College, Koontz worked as a children’s counselor, taught English and wrote in his spare time. After less than two years teaching, Koontz’ wife Gerda offered to step in as the breadwinner so he could write full-time,  wagering if he wasn’t successful after five years fate had other plans. It turned out that she quit  her job to manage his career.

The presentation is one of two annual fundraisers to finance theater improvements as well as representing the Playhouse’s effort to expand its audiences by offering more diverse programming under its roof. The theater now welcomes presentations by local arts groups such as Laguna Beach Live, the Community Concert Band and coming next weekend, the Laguna Dance Festival. “The Playhouse is looking for more variety in terms of performing arts and intellectual presentations,” said the theater’s development director, Elizabeth Pearson

For its part, Playhouse Women hope to raise $90,000 to makeover theater restrooms and is more than halfway to its goal, said Pearson. “To open the group up to an even wider audience, we just lowered our membership dues from $500 to $125,” she said.

The evening begins with a 5:30 p.m. reception and book signing. Jane Hanauer, proprietor of Laguna Beach Books, will be on hand with store manager Lisa Childers to sell Koontz’ most recent fiction, “77 Shadow Street,” which topped the New York Times’ bestseller list last December. She will also make available the best-selling “Odd” Series (“Brother Odd,” “Odd Thomas” and others)  and “Big Little Life: A Memoir of a Joyful Dog.”

“Dean has written more than 60 books, so we are concentrating on his most successful ones,” said Hanauer.

The presentation begins at 7 p.m. “I hear his talks are very witty and highly enjoyable,” said Pearson.


Laguna Playhouse Women Presents An Evening with Dean Koontz. Tickets: $50. LP Box Office 949-497-2787 or online www.lagunaplayhouse.com

Registration, reception and book signing 5:30 p.m.  Koontz presentation 7-8 p.m.  606 Laguna Canyon Rd.

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