PERSPECTIVErnThe Art of Creationrnby Thomas FlemingrnAn Interview With Dean Koontzrn”No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.”rn— Samuel JohnsonrnG K Chesterton was an avid reader of popular fiction, par-rn. ticularly the so-called “penny dreadfuls,” whose everydayrnmorality and concentration on plot and character made themrnmore wholesome reading than the pretentious productions ofrnmodernist literature. Chesterton’s prejudice is shared today byrnmillions of readers who would not beat Donald Barthehne or NormanrnMailer with a stick but cannot board an airplane or go to thernbeach without an 800-page thriller by Dean Koontz or StephenrnKing. Mr. Koontz’s “paranoid style” of fiction has become increasinglyrnattractive to Americans who have begun to suspect thatrnthere is more to government than an honest desire to serve the people.rnNot coincidentally, he is a Chronicles reader.rnI drove away from John Wayne Airport in my rental car andrnturned onto MacArthur Boulevard. The signs for Irvine, NewportrnBeach, and Fashion Island are sinister reminders of governmentrnprojects that engineer monsters and of agents who kill the citizensrnin order to spare them the unhappiness of ordinary life, but thernsun is shining, and the late-November air is warmer in SouthernrnCalifornia than in Illinois. Mr. Koontz and dog Trixie greet mernat the door, and the two of us—Trixie remains at home—go out tornlunch at a good hotel. Drinking a robust but mellow cabernetrnwith my spicy seafood, I ask Mr. Koontz if he is happy to havernturned this bustling part of Southern California into a landscapernas horrifying as one ofLovecraft’s New England villages.rnTF: When I go to Mississippi, I almost expect to see the Mc-rnCaslins on a deer drive, but when I drive to your corner of thernworld I am almost afraid to get out of the car, much less sit onrnthe beach, for fear that a government agent might be waiting forrnDK: I am not anti-government. There is obviously a role forrngovernment in our lives, though not the kind of government wernhave today. The Founders set up a political system that protectedrnthe liberties that we’re rapidly trying to give away. Afterrnthe office building was blown up in Oklahoma City, the NewrnYork Times called up to ask if the author of Dark Rivers of thernHeart felt any responsibility. I said, “There’s nothing in any ofrnmy books that encourages people to blow up buildings or killrnpeople,” and when I asked if he had actually read Dark Rivers,rnhe said no, but he’d been told it was anti-government.rnI tried to explain to him that my novel was anti-totalitarianrnand encouraged individual responsibility, which is the oppositernof blowing up buildings.rnI tell Koontz that these fine distinctions hardly matter to “journalists”rnwho do not hesitate to brand a writer as an apostle of violencernor bigotry without taking the trouble to read anything he hasrnwritten. (Koontz points out the abuse heaped on Carolyn Chute’srnrecent novel— “Some of the most savage things I have ever seen directedrnagainst a writer.” It is not simply that Mrs. Chute hasrndrawn a sympathetic portrait of a militiaman, but that she is gen-rn10/CHRONICLESrnrnrn