How did Star Quest come about and what was the inspiration for the story?
Dean Koontz: As a kid, all I read was science fiction. I started out with probably the Heinlein juvenile, young adult novels and then just read, read, read constantly in the field. So by the time I was graduating college it was very natural for me that that would be the genre I wanted to write it. And I had sold a number of short stories first, but I can’t remember where that idea came from for that novel. All I know is that I wrote it over a summer between teaching jobs. I had no agent, you just sent things over the transom in those days. I sent it to Ace Books and they made me an offer for it.
One thing I vividly remember is that at that time, Ace paid $1,500 for one half of an Ace Double. They came back to me and said, “We can’t pay you $1,500 because your novel is short, so we’re gonna have to pay the guy on the other side of the double, $1,750, so we can only pay you $1,250.” It was the first time I had ever sold anything in book length so I jumped at that and said, alright, I’ll take the $1,250! Some years went by and I was still writing only in the science fiction genre and was somewhere where I ran into the author who was on the other side of that double. I said to him jokingly, that because of you I had to take $1,250 instead of $1,500. And he said, “What do you mean? They told me mine was shorter. I’d have to take $1,250!” I discovered we’d each been chiseled out of $250. Which explained to me why, when I looked at the book, it didn’t seem to me that his was a lot longer than mine. And it was a little warning that there were certain publishers in the world that would save the $500 at the risk of annoying the hell out of the writer down the road. That’s my biggest memory of that. I do sometimes say if I’d just thought of calling it Star Trek instead of Star Quest, maybe I would have been famous long before. (Laughs)
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