Appendix E

Plagiarism & Copyright Infringement

Dawn Pauline Dunn & Suzan Hartzwell

A reader reported to Dean that the book Demonic Color by Pauline Dunn seemed quite similar to his novel Phantoms. Upon further investigation it was found that whole passages had been plagiarized. Dean initiated legal action and the book, along with two others were withdrawn from distribution. Many copies of these books, most commonly Demonic Color were remaindered.


  • New York Times, “Their Book, His Words”, v141 June 24, 92 pB3 col 1, Esther B. Fein
  • New York Times, “They Wrote a Book With His Words”, v141 June 24, 92 pC15 col 4, Esther B. Fein
  • Publisher’s Weekly, “NOTICE”, June 15, 1992 p88
  • Science Fiction Chronicle, “Two Pauline Dunn Horror Novels Plagiarized Dean R. Koontz’s Phantoms”, July/August 1992 p4

Plagiarism, Copyright Violations and Other Thefts of Intellectual Property: An Annotated Bibliography with a Lengthy Introduction by Judy Anderson
McFarland, May 1998
p29: “A fan of Dean Koontz alerted him to copies of Phantoms brought to market under the titles of Crawling Dark and Demonic Colors both published under the pseudonym of Pauline Dunn.
p102: Entry #305 is for Esther Fein’s New York Times article “The Wrote a Book with His Words.”

The Books Involved

Flesh Stealer by Pauline Dunn, Zebra Books, March 1990
Demonic Color by Pauline Dunn, Zebra Books, October 1990
The Crawling Dark by Pauline Dunn, Zebra Books, June 1991

The Bestseller by Olivia Goldsmith
HarperCollins, 1996

A novel about the publishing industry, it mentions Dean Koontz in four separate passages: (Page numbers are for the trade hardcover edition but the passages also appear in the original Book Club and large print editions.)

p.62: “When Sonny Mehta had taken over that venerable firm [Knopf], he acquired Dean Koontz!”

p.128: “‘Spooks’ were all of those Stephen King/Peet Trawley/Dean Koontz scary weird monster books.”

p.150: “Dean Koontz had written under eight names. Since his first book, Star Quest in 1967, he’d churned out sixty novels from science fiction to Gothic romances. He’d called himself Leigh Nichols and Deanna Dwyer. Now he had 150 million books in print, and his three contracts with publishers since ‘89 reportedly earned him $32 million.”

p.452: “‘Did you hear about the Dean Koontz audit? He had them going over the joint with a fine-tooth comb. Backlist, current stuff, everything. Paperwork, computer data, warehouse, printing press, shipping and postage records. They owed him four million in royalties.’”

Dean was not happy with this last passage in the book says he’s never even considered auditing any of his publishers, that his royalty statements are accurate, and that he values his friendships with his editors. In Publishers Weekly (Feb. 24, 1997 p.13) Ms. Goldsmith printed a half-page apology for the passage and promising that the passage will be deleted from the paperback edition.

Related Articles

“An Editor Fills His Empty Mailbag” by David Streitfeld. Washington Post, Tuesday, March 4, 1997, page B1.  Under the sub-section “Reality Check” the author briefly discusses the Goldsmith/Koontz situation.

The Bestseller by Olivia Goldsmith – BCE
The Bestseller by Olivia Goldsmith – Cassettes
The Bestseller by Olivia Goldsmith – Trade Hardcover
The Bestseller by Olivia Goldsmith – Large Print Hardcover

The Book of Counted Sorrows
by Mark Masztal, H&M Publishing

In issue #399 of Locus Magazine (April 1994) Dean published a full-page (page 6) advertisement addressing the publication of “The Book of Counted Sorrows” by H&M Publishing containing the epigrams from Dean’s books. This was published “purportedly in a small quantity and distributed as gifts.” The advertisement goes on to state that no sale on the collector’s market will be tolerated and additional legal remedies will be sought.

No additional details on this publication have been made available regarding this book.




Haute Tension / High Tension directed by Alexandre Aja

Where to begin… I’m going to keep this short and just quote IMDB:
“Influenced by the Dean Koontz novel, Intensity, director-writer Alexandre Aja had read the novel prior to making Haute Tension. Despite the similarities Koontz later elected not to peruse a plagiarism case as Haute Tension only resembles Intensity in the first half of the film.”

Search this site for High Tension and you’ll find several blog posts linking to a number of articles on the subject.