From best-selling authors to Pulitzer prize winners, many of the greatest authors have chosen to use Orange County as the location for many of their literary pieces. The inspiration for many comes from their connection to the vibrant Southern California region as natives or from giving back to a location that helped build their writing careers. Many of the novels mentioned have also been adapted to films or television series. Here are the best books are based in Orange County.
T. Jefferson Parker
Southern California native T. Jefferson Parker spent most of his formative years in Orange County, even earning his bachelor’s degree at the University of California, Irvine in Orange County. It was during his time as a reporter for the Daily Pilot that he gathered stories and information for his first novel, “Laguna Heat,” a mystery novel based out of the popular destination in the OC. The book was later picked up by HBO to be turned into a series. “California Girl,” another book that Parker claims to have “spent a lifetime preparing to write,” is also based in Orange County in the Southern California towns of Tustin and Laguna Beach where the writer grew up.
Kim Stanley Robinson
American science fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson is best known for his Orange County-based Three California trilogy, “The Wild Shore,” “The Gold Coast” and “Pacific Edge.” Each novel delves into the life of individuals in Orange County in three different near-futures. “The Wild Shore” tells the story of survivors of a nuclear war, “The Gold Coast” enters Southern California in 2027 with its “endless sprawl of condos, freeway and malls,” and “Pacific Edge” is set in a utopian El Modena, California of 2065. Robinson has been labeled by reviewers as “the gold-standard of realistic, and highly literary, science-fiction writing,” and has been recognized on numerous occasions for his science fiction work.
Philip K. Dick
American novelist Philip K. Dick was also an essayist and philosopher that explored the sociological, political and metaphysical themes in his novels; almost his entire work is considered to fall into the science fiction genre. His 1977 novel, “A Scanner Darkly,” is set in the then-future 1994 dystopian Orange County. As with all of Dick’s novels, there is an underlying thread of paranoia and dissociation with multiple realities perceived simultaneously, which was highly influenced by personal experience. It explored the drug culture and use and it is one of Dick’s best-known novels that was then adapted into a film in 2006.
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Best-selling fiction and horror author Dean Koontz cemented his status as a best-selling author with a series of novels that include one based in Orange County, “Watchers.” A story of a former Delta Force operative was later adapted into a series of horror films that were loosely based on the novel in 1988, 1990, 1994 and 1998. Koontz currently lives in the Southern California region with his wife and his novels are described by many as suspense thrillers that have appeared on the New York Times bestseller list with 14 of his books reaching the number one spot.
Pulitzer prize-winning American author Michael Chabon has been dubbed as “one of the most celebrated writers of his generation,” according to The Virginia Quarterly Review. His collection of short stories in 1991, “A Model World,” are set in Orange County. Chabon studied creative writing at Southern California’s University of California, Irvine and was a roommate to novelist Louis B. Jones where he developed his writing discipline. The New York Times bestselling author currently resides in Berkeley with his wife and children.
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