NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
There are no rules in the dark, no place to feel safe, no escape from the shadows. But to save the day, you must seize the night.
At no time does Moonlight Bay look more beautiful than at night. Yet it is precisely then that the secluded little town reveals its menace. Now children are disappearing. From their homes. From the streets. And there’s nothing their families can do about it. Because in Moonlight Bay, the police work their hardest to conceal crimes and silence victims. No matter what happens in the night, their job is to ensure that nothing disturbs the peace and quiet of Moonlight Bay.
Christopher Snow isn’t afraid of the dark. Forced to live in the shadows because of a rare genetic disorder, he knows the night world better than anyone. He believes the lost children are still alive and that their disappearance is connected to the town’s most carefully kept, most ominous secret—a secret only he can uncover, a secret that will force him to confront an adversary at one with the most dangerous darkness of all: the darkness inside the human heart.
About the Author
Dean Koontz, the author of many #1 New York Times bestsellers, lives in Southern California with his wife, Gerda, their golden retriever, Elsa, and the enduring spirit of their goldens, Trixie and Anna.
Hometown:Newport Beach, California
Date of Birth:July 9, 1945
Place of Birth:Everett, Pennsylvania
Education:B.S. (major in English), Shippensburg University, 1966
Read an Excerpt
Elsewhere, night falls, but in Moonlight Bay it steals upon us with barely a whisper, like a gentle dark-sapphire surf licking a beach. At dawn, when the night retreats across the Pacific toward distant Asia, it is reluctant to go, leaving deep black pools in alleyways, under parked cars, in culverts, and beneath the leafy canopies of ancient oaks.
According to Tibetan folklore, a secret sanctuary in the sacred Himalayas is the home of all wind, from which every breeze and raging storm throughout the world is born. If the night, too, has a special home, our town is no doubt the place.
On the eleventh of April, as the night passed through Moonlight Bay on its way westward, it took with it a five-year-old boy named Jimmy Wing.
Near midnight, I was on my bicycle, cruising the residential streets in the lower hills not far from Ashdon College, where my murdered parents had once been professors. Earlier, I had been to the beach, but although there was no wind, the surf was mushy; the sloppy waves didn't make it worthwhile to suit up and float a board. Orson, a black Labrador mix, trotted at my side.
Fur face and I were not looking for adventure, merely getting some fresh air and satisfying our mutual need to be on the move. A restlessness of the soul plagues both of us more nights than not.
Anyway, only a fool or a madman goes looking for adventure in picturesque Moonlight Bay, which is simultaneously one of the quietest and most dangerous communities on the planet. Here, if you stand in one place long enough, a lifetime's worth of adventure will find you.
Lilly Wing lives on a street shaded and scented by stone pines. In the absence of lampposts, the trunks and twisted branches were as black as char, except where moonlight pierced the feathery boughs and silvered the rough bark.
I became aware of her when the beam of a flashlight swept back and forth between the pine trunks. A quick pendulum of light arced across the pavement ahead of me, and tree shadows jumped. She called her son's name, trying to shout but defeated by breathlessness and by a quiver of panic that transformed Jimmy into a six-syllable word.
Because no traffic was in sight ahead of or behind us, Orson and I were traveling the center of the pavement: kings of the road. We swung to the curb.
As Lilly hurried between two pines and into the street, I said, "What's wrong, Badger?"
For twelve years, since we were sixteen, "Badger" has been my affectionate nickname for her. In those days, her name was Lilly Travis, and we were in love and believed that a future together was our destiny. Among our long list of shared enthusiasms and passions was a special fondness for Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows, in which the wise and courageous Badger was the stalwart defender of all the good animals in the Wild Wood. "Any friend of mine walks where he likes in this country," Badger had promised Mole, "or I'll know the reason why!" Likewise, those who shunned me because of my rare disability, those who called me vampire because of my inherited lack of tolerance for more than the dimmest light, those teenage psychopaths who plotted to torture me with fists and flashlights, those who spoke maliciously of me behind my back, as if I'd chosen to be born with xeroderma pigmentosum—all had found themselves answering to Lilly, whose face flushed and whose heart raced with righteous anger at any exhibition of intolerance. As a young boy, out of urgent necessity, I learned to fight, and by the time I met Lilly, I was confident of my ability to defend myself; nevertheless, she had insisted on coming to my aid as fiercely as the noble Badger ever fought with claw and cudgel for his friend Mole.
Although slender, she is mighty. Only five feet four, she appears to tower over any adversary. She is as formidable, fearless, and fierce as she is graceful and good-hearted.
This night, however, her usual grace had deserted her, and fright had tortured her bones into unnatural angles. When I spoke, she twitched around to face me, and in her jeans and untucked flannel shirt, she seemed to be a bristling scarecrow now magically animated, confused and terrified to find itself suddenly alive, jerking at its supporting cross.
The beam of her flashlight bathed my face, but she considerately directed it toward the ground the instant she realized who I was. "Chris. Oh, God."
"What's wrong?" I asked again as I got off my bike.
"No." She turned from me and hurried toward the house. "This way, here, look."
Lilly's property is ringed by a white picket fence that she herself built. The entrance is flanked not by gateposts but by matched bougainvillea that she has pruned into trees and trained into a canopy. Her modest Cape Cod bungalow lies at the end of an intricately patterned brick walkway that she designed and laid after teaching herself masonry from books.
The front door stood open. Enticing rooms of deadly brightness lay beyond.
Instead of taking me and Orson inside, Lilly quickly led us off the bricks and across the lawn. In the still night, as I pushed my bike through the closely cropped grass, the tick of wheel bearings was the loudest sound. We went to the north side of the house.
A bedroom window had been raised. Inside, a single lamp glowed, and the walls were striped with amber light and faint honey-brown shadows from the folded cloth of the pleated shade. To the left of the bed, Star Wars action figures stood on a set of bookshelves. As the cool night air sucked warmth from the house, one panel of the curtains was drawn across the sill, pale and fluttering like a troubled spirit reluctant to leave this world for the next.
"I thought the window was locked, but it mustn't have been," Lilly said frantically. "Someone opened it, some sonofabitch, and he took Jimmy away."
"Maybe it's not that bad."
"Some sick bastard," she insisted.
The flashlight jiggled, and Lilly struggled to still her trembling hand as she directed the beam at the planting bed alongside the house.
"I don't have any money," she said.
"To pay ransom. I'm not rich. So no one would take Jimmy for ransom. It's worse than that."
False Solomon's seal, laden with feathery sprays of white flowers that glittered like ice, had been trampled by the intruder. Footprints were impressed in trodden leaves and soft damp soil. They were not the prints of a runaway child but those of an adult in athletic shoes with bold tread, and judging by the depth of the impressions, the kidnapper was a large person, most likely male.
I saw that Lilly was barefoot.
"I couldn't sleep, I was watching TV, some stupid show on the TV," she said with a note of self-flagellation, as if she should have anticipated this abduction and been at Jimmy's bedside, ever vigilant.
Orson pushed between us to sniff the imprinted earth.
"I didn't hear anything," Lilly said. "Jimmy never cried out, but I got this feeling. . . ."
Her usual beauty, as clear and deep as a reflection of eternity, was now shattered by terror, crazed by sharp lines of an anguish that was close to grief. She was held together only by desperate hope. Even in the dim backwash of the flashlight, I could hardly bear the sight of her in such pain.
"It'll be all right," I said, ashamed of this facile lie.
"I called the police," she said. "They should be here any second. Where are they?"
Table of Contents
What People are Saying About This
"His masterwork."—Publishers Weekly
"Dean Koontz finally got me....A rock-'em, sock-'em, knock-your-socks-off thriller that's not just a page turner, but a page burner."—New York Post
On Friday, January 8th, barnesandnoble.com welcomed Dean Koontz to discuss SEIZE THE NIGHT and ^%=ucase(title2)%^.
Moderator: Welcome, Dean Koontz! Thank you for taking the time to join us online this evening. How are you doing tonight?
Dean Koontz: I'm alive, and that's as good as it gets.
Hanne Skovby from Denmark: Don't you ever make yourself paranoid by writing these sick -- though absolutely amazing -- books? You're the best -- but you scare me...!
Dean Koontz: My job is to make you paranoid. My own madness is more complex than that.
Cindy Fichthorn from Kittanning, PA: Reading a transcript of an earlier chat, it seems you have quite a sense of humor, which is not always evident in your books. The exception being TICKTOCK, which had me laughing out loud. Will we be seeing more of this side of you in the future?
Dean Koontz: Well, I think FEAR NOTHING, and especially SEIZE THE NIGHT, have quite a lot of humor in them. And most of my arguments with former publishers had to do with the humor in such books as LIGHTNING, THE BAD PLACE, MR. MURDER, and DARK RIVERS OF THE HEART. There is a myth that suspense and humor don't mix. If that were true, I would be working as a plumber instead of a writer.
Karagen from Keizer, Oregon: What is STORM FRONT going to be about? I heard that it was a reprint of an old book of yours. Is this true, and why did the publishers push the release date on it?
Dean Koontz: Against my wishes, the publisher announced the book. It is not even written yet. And I don't know when it will be. But, like TICKTOCK, it isn't a revised old book; it would be a new book of a shorter length, done as a paperback original.
Chris Fraker from Orlando, FL: What type of books do you read?
Dean Koontz: Anything in English.
Amy from Bourbonnais, IL: Hi, Dean. (May I call you that?? :) ) Although my sister and I think that Ralph Fiennes would make a wonderful Stefan if LIGHTNING were to become a movie, we believe that Dolph Lundgren would do a great job, too. We think he has the looks, can do the accent, and can be "tough" -- yet gentle and trustworthy -- without seeming "mean." Does that make sense? Thanks. Take care!
Dean Koontz: First, yes, please call me Dean. It would be odd if you called me Bob. I stay out of casting fantasies for movies, because I know that when it's finally filmed, the male lead will probably have been transformed into a role that can be played by Anne Heche.
Steve from Tacoma: Hello, Mr. Koontz. You are a master at creating the most believable characters. How do you go about fleshing out your characters? (You include so many details about them, so I'm wondering if you develop them from extensive character sketches.) Also, do you develop your stories in outline form before you begin them? Thanks.
Dean Koontz: Story outlines are too limiting for me. I start the book with a premise, and one or two central characters, then start to write with no idea where I'm going. I never use character profiles, but I do spend time thinking about character before starting page one. If the character comes alive, he presents to me details of his life that I would never have come up with by creating an artificial profile.
Kat Chilly from Salisbury, MD: Which authors frighten you?
Dean Koontz: Do you mean their work, their personal appearance, or their general attitude?
Rotenhausen from Gropfurt: How can one subscribe to Useless News other than to write to you consistently?
Dean Koontz: If you are an American, you get on a mailing list by writing once and receive every issue. The cost of sending it overseas is so great that we only send it once each time that an overseas fan writes. However, only insane people really want to know so much about me that they need to see every issue.
Susan K. Cherepon from Oswegatchie, NY: I really admire your books because you have such strong female lead characters. I was wondering if there were any women on whom you have based your characters?
Dean Koontz: Most of the female leads in my books have a considerable basis in my wife, Gerda. There have been other strong women in my life, my mother principle among them. So I do write out of example.
Cindy Fichthorn from Kittanning, PA: How do you determine who to ask for help when writing a story? The resuscitation scene in HIDEAWAY was right on the button (from a paramedic standpoint). It's not something a layman knows. Your writing is so varied -- how do you find the right people to assist? What kinds of research do you do...are you a library kind of guy?
Dean Koontz: I am amazed that I have become such a fussbudget about research. In high school and college, I was a slacker's slacker. Now I absolutely must get every detail right. A high percentage of what I need to know, I can find from books and other research sources, but I also have lots of cards on my Rolodex of readers who have written me, offering their expertise in a lot of exotic subjects. So, of course, I diligently exploit these fans.
Michelle from Oak Island, NC: Did you have an overactive imagination as a child, or did all your story ideas come after you were older?
Dean Koontz: I had an overactive imagination in the womb.
Marcia B. Payton from Carmel, California: What inspired this latest novel? Was there a particular instance of kidnapping that got you thinking about it?
Dean Koontz: The inspiration for SEIZE THE NIGHT is really the same one as for FEAR NOTHING. I was fascinated by two things: XP, the condition with which the lead character is afflicted; and surfing culture. The kidnapping plot and everything else in these books of a suspense nature really just serves my obsessive interest in these two subjects.
Noah from New York: In your afterword to "A Mouse in the Walls of the Global Village," you discuss your now-obscure mainstream novel, HUNG, calling it a variation on the global village theme. If the novel is a take on "Fall of the Dream Machine" without the sci-fi element, why do you have such a desire to prevent this book from ever surfacing again? Despite your own opinions of them, I thoroughly enjoyed all of your early works, even the AP/Cameo/Oval books, and was overjoyed to see the reappearance of an early theme, that of the alternate probabilities, in Seize The Night.
Dean Koontz: Listen, I know when an early piece of mine stinks. And on a couple of the titles you mentioned, the very thought of them requires me to pinch my nose shut.
JWC901@aol.com from NJ: Do you feel mounting pressure with each novel to maintain the expected Dean Koontz excellence?
Dean Koontz: Oh, my, you are sweet! The only pressure I feel is to push the envelope farther each time. That is not because of other people's expectations, but because of my own. If I weren't pushing harder each time, I would get bored. I bore easily. More easily than a three-year-old.
Chris Fraker from Orlando, FL: My mother introduced me to your writing about six years ago after I moved from southern California to Florida. I enjoy your stories because most of them are based in Orange and L.A. counties and you use real places and roads. So when I become homesick, I like to pick up a Dean Koontz book and remember how wacky California is and then come back to reality. Kinda. So thank you for reminding me why I moved from Los Angeles.
Dean Koontz: Thanks, Chris. But please don't tell me that Florida is a paradise of sanity.
Margaret Smith from Choctaw, Oklahoma: Dean, could I have the address so I could receive the mailing of Useless News?
Dean Koontz: The address to write to me is the same one printed in recent books: P.O. Box 9529, Newport Beach, California 92658
Gareth from Adelaide, Australia: Do you already have a working title or even a story line in mind for the last in the Christopher Snow trilogy?
Dean Koontz: The story is coming along nicely, but I'm still choosing between several titles. It won't be called MONKEY SEE, MONKEY DO.
Laura Wyatt from Waco, Texas: Who is your favorite female lead out of all your wonderful books?
Dean Koontz: Chyna Shepherd in INTENSITY. Number two, Laura Shane in LIGHTNING.
Arthur from Seattle, WA: Christopher Snow is a fascinating character. What intrigues you most about him? What part of him is the most difficult to write?
Dean Koontz: What intrigues me most is that he has such tremendous limitations because of his XP, but turns his limitations into advantages. Nothing about Chris has been difficult to write. Chris, Sasha, and Bobby have become so real to me that I've been setting three extra places at the dinner table.
Steve Peart from Bakersfield, CA: Do you believe we will ever have the technology to communicate with dogs, à la WATCHERS?
Dean Koontz: I just had a lovely two-hour conversation with my golden retriever. Isn't this technology available where you live?
Chris Fraker from Orlando, FL: A couple of your books have been made into movies. Why do you think that a good book does not necessarily make a good movie?
Dean Koontz: 'Cause Neanderthals run too many of the studios. There is also a problem with complexity of story line and theme in a lot of my books. What translates easiest to the screen are simple stories about haunted houses, gangland murders, or alien destruction of the earth. If I could write simpler stories, they would more easily translate to film, because film is essentially a short story. But I do what I do, and I don't wish to change.
Hanne Skovby from Denmark: I love it when you write hypnosis scenes. Are you into that stuff yourself, or is it all research?
Dean Koontz: It's all research, although when I was a kid, teachers often accused me of being in a trance.
Kevin Poore from Madison, MS: I got my first exposure to your work when I saw the TV movie of INTENSITY. What did you think of their adaptation?
Dean Koontz: I thought it was terrific. I had sufficient control to pick the writer, Stephen Tolkin, who is enormously talented. And as executive producer, I saw that all of my notes throughout the production were addressed. The actors were also superb.
Chris Fraker from Orlando, FL: A lot of your titles are one word -- is there a reason?
Dean Koontz: I used to have a publisher who insisted that all titles be one word after WHISPERS was such a success. I would often put different titles on the book only to see them shortened into one word. That no longer applied. But once in a while, even these days, one word still is best, as with INTENSITY.
Christine Garber from Mount Joy, PA: I read some time ago that ODDKINS was going to be made into an animated film. I think it is a lovely, touching story...although I had to dig through the local library for over an hour to get my hands on a copy. Is this still in the works?
Dean Koontz: For a while, Tim Burton was developing this at Warner Bros. But then, like so many things, it all fell apart.
Tom Allen from Chattanaooga, TN: Mr. Koontz. I haven't read all of your books, but I have a good leg up on them. In TICKTOCK, you use a repeated phrase, such as "tick, tock, tick, tock," and I have noticed in other works, including the one I just read, SEIZE THE NIGHT...you use "tick, tick, tick." Is this a signature phrase, since it appears so often? No adverse comment, just curious.
Dean Koontz: I am completely unaware of my tendency to tick.
Ray and Dolores from Wheeling, IL: Are you planning any tours that will include the Chicago area? My wife and I are big fans. Our favorite is WATCHERS. After that we differ -- I like THE BAD PLACE and she likes PHANTOMS. We read SEIZE THE NIGHT in four days.
Dean Koontz: I hope eventually to get out of California for signings, but that isn't going to happen until we make it safely through the millennium, and I can be sure that I won't find myself on the road during Armageddon.
Temi from New York: Who are your favorite horror writers?
Dean Koontz: I don't like to answer such questions, because I'm sure to inadvertently leave out the name of a friend and wake up in the morning to find all my tires slashed.
Niki from Niki_palek@yahoo.com: I really think your books would carry over well to the big screen. Do you currently have any projects in motion?
Dean Koontz: Currently MR. MURDER is finished as a two-night miniseries for ABC airing in April. It is flat-out terrific. We're working on other miniseries, a one-hour series, and a series of two-hour TV movies, details to be announced later. But no feature film is in the works at this time, largely because I've been made wretchedly ill by most previous feature films. In TV I seem to be able to get more control.
Chris Fraker from Orlando, FL: SANTA'S TWIN is a bit of a departure in style for you, and now a Christmas classic. Are there plans to do any more books similar?
Dean Koontz: Phil Parks and I are working on a very unusual book that would probably be published in the year 2000, unless we're all dead.
Jenny from Chicago, Illinois: I'm actually writing to thank you for all the responses you have written to me and my former students. I wrote to you about five years ago when I was teaching English in Louisiana, and you responded. Following that, dozens of my students wrote to you after reading your books, and they all received responses. For some who considered themselves nonreaders, your books (and your letters) inspired them to read -- some for the first time in their lives. I no longer teach English in Louisiana -- I moved to Chicago. But I still continue to read everything you write. And when I visit Louisiana and see former students, they always tell me which book of yours they have recently read. Thanks.
Dean Koontz: I used to be a teacher myself, so I have a soft spot in my heart for other teachers. I'm glad I could help.
John Gugie from Bethlehem, PA: Do you ever go online and find web sites about you and your books? I belong to a Dean Koontz mailing list, and I recently created a web site about your books with a copy of your Useless Newsletter for everyone to read.
Dean Koontz: I am an obsessive person. Consequently, I do not go online. I know that if I did, my obsession would ultimately lead to having my keyboard jacked directly into my cerebral cortex.
Pam from Chicago: What kind of writing schedule do you hold yourself to? Do you work on one book at a time or several?
Dean Koontz: I sit down at the keyboard at 7:30 in the morning, 8:30 if it's my turn to walk the dog, and I stay there until dinner, without taking lunch. I like long work sessions, because the characters become more real to me when I'm with them for long periods of time. I rarely can work on two novels simultaneously, but I can work on a novel and a screenplay at the same time, because they are such totally different forms.
Sally Garber from Mount Joy, PA: My daughter talked me into reading LIGHTNING. I was very moved by it, until you killed Danny. Why did you have to go and do that? I've never finished the book....
Dean Koontz: LIGHTNING is really three love stories. One is a tragic love story. One is a story of love but with great anguish -- that would be the one between Laura and Stefan. And the third is the love story of two friends, Laura and Thelma. Because the book explores all the variations of loving relationships, I could not conceivably have all three of these turn out happily. But you might like to know that I am tentatively developing this book with a movie producer, and we've come up with a version in which Danny lives.
Cindy Fichthorn from Kittanning, PA: Most people tend to hide a difficult past. You seem to have risen above it. Do you feel you would be where you are today without all the sum parts of your existence? Could you have done it without the strong partner you chose?
Dean Koontz: The dark parts of my childhood are key factors that have motivated me to do what I've done. Though there has been darkness in my childhood and adolescence, I've always been happy. I've always believed that happiness is a choice, and that you can choose to be happy even when bad things are happening to you. But it sure has helped that Gerda came along. The hardest thing in life to deal with is not abuse, not death, not illness, but loneliness.
Moderator: Thank you, Dean Koontz! Best of luck with SEIZE THE NIGHT. Do you have any closing comments for the online audience?
Dean Koontz: I would just warn everybody never to take a vacation in Moonlight Bay.