An Interview with Dean Koontz about The Book of Counted Sorrows
First published at BN.com and reproduced with the permission of Barnes & Noble.
You left two poems out of your reproduction of The Book of Counted Sorrows as a kind gesture to the reader so that we don't turn to butter or explode. How did you decide which poems to leave out?
As you know, all men and some women who read every poem in this book meet sudden, strange, explosive ends shortly after completing the tome. A few courageous, treasured, highly esteemed employees here at the Koontz manor--whose exquisite good taste I trusted and admired, whose taste in fact I would like to see adopted by our entire society through the use of armed force if necessary--read all the poems. Then, quickly, before either of their heads exploded or they convulsively spun themselves into butter, each shouted out the titles of two poems he thought should be excised to protect the public. I made my decision based on these people's heroic efforts. Their sacrifices will never be forgotten: We have erected lavish monuments to them here on the vast Koontz estate, so lavish as to require building permits from NASA, which was afraid that the uppermost portions of the spires might interfere with shuttle flights, and their families have been given large picnic hampers filled with cheeses and fine jams.
As you tell the long history of the The Book of Counted Sorrows, you refresh us with stories of your own refreshments. After reading these delightful asides, the question that burns in the minds of all your readers is probably: What does lemon beer taste like?
Lemon beer tastes like beer but also like lemons, as you might expect: sweet yet pleasantly malty, as if it had been brewed in the sticky old socks of laborers working in the molasses-gathering industry. Immensely refreshing. Lemon beer is an acquired taste. One can learn to love lemon beer either by spending decades in the careful development of the palate and the acquisition of enormous amounts of culinary and brewery knowledge--or by admitting oneself to the Joseph Stalin Institute for Lifestyle Change, where one can spend a week in a cell full of mutant rats and be tortured into a deep appreciation for this unique beverage. Because time is the most valuable thing we possess, I chose the latter course.
Everyone is probably also wondering about the poems that are missing, including "Where God Goes on Vacation." If you had to guess, where would you say that vacation spot might be?
God has a low tolerance for neon and lounge singers and, because of a waistline program, prefers not to vacation where low-priced, all-you-can-eat buffets are common; therefore, I'm confident that He wouldn't want to spend a week or two in Las Vegas. But He loves cheesesteak sandwiches and bowling, so I'd suspect he could be found in the Philadelphia area sometime each summer.
What made you think that The Book of Counted Sorrows, an ancient text, would make a good eBook?
You made me think it would. The blame for this is yours. I have no culpability in this matter. Had executives of Barnes & Noble not stood over me, guns to my head, threatening also to blow up my pet bunny, this book would never have been written. My bunny is still in therapy.
Do you think that, if one were to read the whole text of The Book of Counted Sorrows on the screen rather than from a printed book, it would have the same disastrous results? If so, would there be a modern, updated way to die? If so, what do you think it would be?
If you read the entire book on the screen, including the two poems that I have wisely deleted, you would implode both mentally and physically. The imploded entity--not a pretty thing--would be sucked into the screen, travel via the Internet to Seattle, and be absorbed into the gestalt mind that serves as the operating system for all the electronic and electrical systems in Bill Gate's new mansion, where you would spend eternity monitoring the function of his dishwasher or perhaps his six-slice toaster.
Women (at least those without a high level of testosterone) are immune to the powers of The Book of Counted Sorrows. Do you think this could be because whatever it is that men learn from the book, women already know?
Yes, it might be something that women already know. Or it could be that men are just more sensitive.
The Book of Counted Sorrows begins with "No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means without permission in writing, in blood, from the publisher." Do you really have a bloody document stating that you can reprint this text, or are you willing to take your chances at being hunted down by savage pigs for disobeying the copyright requirement?
I have merely written the introduction to this book and provided the poems. You have published (therefore reproduced) it, and the savage pigs already loose and lusting for blood--as only savage pigs can lust for it--are seeking you.
This is a totally new kind of book for your readers, both in its content and format. Do you think you'll try more experiments like this in the future?
Perhaps I will, assuming that savage readers, lusting for blood, don't track me down. I'm always looking for new and interesting work to occupy myself, because I've learned the hard way that without work to fill my time, I end up in trouble with the police, the FBI, the National Security Agency, the Brotherhood of Boilerworkers, the Alliance Against Mollusks, and numerous other organizations
Unless otherwise stated, this interview was conducted at the time the book was first published, and is reproduced with permission of the publisher. This interview may not be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the copyright holder.
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