How to Write Best Selling Fiction
See Also: Writing Popular Fiction
“Some of the material appearing in this book originally appeared in Writing Popular Fiction, © 1972 by Dean R. Koontz.”
Listed as “Dean Koontz” on the spine.
Mentioned on page 243 of Richard Laymon’s A Writer’s Tale, Deadline Press, 1998.
Featured in an ad for the Writer’s Digest Book Club in The Basics of Writing & Selling Fiction vol. 2, 1984.
Alec Nevala-Lee interviews science fiction author Barry N. Malzberg
June 21, 2021
Nevala-Lee: At this point where you spending time or, you know, interacting with other writers?
Malzberg: Oh yeah.
Nevala-Lee: What were some of the writers you knew best?
Malzberg: The writers I knew best? Oh, Dean Koontz early in his career? Who is an agency client? [Bill] Pronzini, of course, with whom, I, we broke five novels together. Silverberg, of course. A lot of people. Varying degrees of acquaintances. Koontz and I, Pronzini and I, knew each other very well. They were very close friendships. Silverberg was miles ahead of me as a writer. But in Michael Swanwick’s words about about his own relationship with Silverberg, from the beginning [unintelligable] a human being. And we embarked upon in the early, the mid seventies upon a correspondence, which lasted 20 years. And he’s extraordinary.
Nevala-Lee: I wonder if you could talk a bit about Dean Koontz because I don’t think a lot of people realized that he had such a prolific career in science fiction. And, you know, mystery and other genres before he really broke through with novels for which he’s best known.
Malzberg: Yes, he did. Yes, he did and I was there to see all of it. He wanted to be a sicence ficiton writer by his own words in the early, in the early, the mids ’70s and he had published by that time several novels. He said I just realized, you know, it it wasn’t what, it wasn’t where I, what I wanted it to be or where I could go, so I had to go elsewhere. I want to interject, that Demon Seed that it became a movie as you may know. It was adapted from for a big deal movie but it was a novel and that and the other Bantam Novel The Flesh in the Furnace were written when he essentially given up [on Science Fiction], he had closed the doors and, and through mystery and suspense, was working his way out of it. But he was a very good science fiction writer. Better than he thought himself to be, and could have had a major career. And we know what happens to people who [unintellgiible] major careers in science fiction. So he was smart.
Nevala-Lee: One of the first books I ever read about writing was a book called Writing Popular Fiction, which…
Malzberg: Yeah I remeber that.
Nevala-Lee: …which Koontz wrote probably when he was in his late twenties and I still have copy.
Malzberg: He also wrote for Writer’s Digest Press, How to Write a Bestseller. [How To Write Best Selling Ficiton] Which I found amusing because at the time the book was published. He had not written a bestseller. He [eventually] did as we know.
Nevala-Lee: Yeah, the first book though is one that I basically memorized. I read him a lot growing up and I still think about some of the rules that he laid down for writing science fiction in particular.
Malzberg: Yeah. Yeah. He was quite sensible. There is, I agree with Vonnegut, writing cannot be taught, it can be learned, but it cannot be taught, but stipulating that, Koontz’s books were as good as any. No question.
Last updated on April 16th, 2018