PW: For years your fans have been clamoring for The Book of Counted Sorrows. Why now, and why as an e-book?
DK: When people write to us, they get a FAQ. One of the questions has been, "Where can I find this book?" And for those who know that it's not real, "When are you going to publish this?" Over the years, as we've updated the FAQ, I've said, "I'll be publishing this in about two years." But years went by, and I hadn't published it. Then my agent, Robert Gottlieb, called and said, "There is this opportunity at Barnes & Noble." They wanted to do something with me and e-books. Robert said, "What would be perfect is The Book of Counted Sorrows." Robert is very persuasive. So I said, "Oh, okay."
PW: Why did you write funny for this book?
DK: When I talked to the people at B&N, they suggested some sort of introduction that would give the history of this book as if it were a real book. But I didn't prepare them for what it would be. I know they were expecting a kind of spooky thing, but I always rebel against the "spooky guy" label, so I decided to make this funny. Happily, they responded well.
I've been including humor in a number of books, more and more as the years go by. Every book I've had at Bantam has had humor in it, especially the last one, From the Corner of His Eye. So far, this year we're closing in on 20,000 fan letters, and about 18,000 of them have been about From the Corner of His Eye. One of the things people respond to in that novel is the humor. No writer I've ever met has more self-doubt than I do, and one of the things I struggle with is, "can I push the envelope and do this humor?" In The Book of Counted Sorrows, I thought, "Here's an opportunity to do whatever I want." I went over the top with it. Also, it seemed to me incredibly pompous to sit there and write about myself, and yet, they did want a 12,000-word introduction. I ended up doing 22,000 words because I was having so much fun with it.
PW: Now that The Book of Counted Sorrows has been published, does that mean we will see no new adult poems from Dean Koontz?
DK: You know, it's an extremely strange book. It seems entirely possible to me that one day I could walk down to the vault where we keep it and discover that the book seems to be twice the size it used to be. Who knows? It is, after all, a mysterious, magical book. So I don't think I've forever put an end to it.
PW: Are you thinking of a paper edition down the road?
DK: Barnes & Noble has, I think, a one-year exclusive. Then the opportunity is there for us to explore this as a paper book.
PW: Tell us about The Paper Doorway, more verse from Dean Koontz due out this month from HarperCollins Children's.
DK: I've always written amusing verse for my own pleasure or the pleasure of friends. Everyone seems to enjoy it, but maybe they're lying to me because they're my friends. Maybe when the general public sees these verses, I'll be beaten up on the street. Nonetheless, it was an opportunity to work with [illustrator] Phil [Parks] and to see if there's an audience out there. I've signed for a second book of verse with HarperCollins Children's. Phil and I are getting to work on that one right now.
PW: I noticed that you gave a book critic a particularly nasty fate in your intro to The Book of Counted Sorrows.
DK: I do believe we don't have to wait for the next world to get our comeuppance. We usually get it multiple times in this one. I know that I have over the years. He just ultimately got it. Not that I took any pleasure in that...