Author Dean Koontz on Odd Thomas, rough childhood, California home

Dean Koontz is one of the best-selling authors of all time. He just released "Saint Odd," the final book in one of his most popular series -- a series filled with stories inspired in part by troubles in his own life, CBS News' Ben Tracy reports.

"I'm just the guy who lives down the street, and I do books instead of sell cars," Koontz said.

If that's true, then Koontz is the Henry Ford of authors. He's written around 100 different books from sci-fi and suspense to horror with a touch of satire.

"When I write a novel, I don't move from page one to page two until I've written 20 or 30 drafts. I have to polish it until I think it can't be any better. Then I can move on," Koontz said. "This comes out of a very deep self-doubt. And that comes out of my childhood."

Right now, Koontz is mourning a loss. He's just released the eighth and final installment in his series about his everyday hero, Odd Thomas, a fry cook who sees dead people. The books have sold 20 million copies.

"He came to me in the most amazing way. I was working on another book, and into my head came the line, 'My name is Odd Thomas. I lead an unusual life,'" Koontz said.

Koontz has also led an unusual life. He grew up poor in Pennsylvania and calls his mother Florence a saint, his father a sinner who once tried to stab him.

"My dad had 44 jobs in 34 years. He was a violent alcoholic," Koontz said.

When Koontz's father was 81 years old, he tried to kill his son.

"I ended up putting it in a novel. We're merciless, us writers. We use everything," Koontz said. "You know, it's a terrible thing to say about your own father. I have no happy memories. I literally cannot think of one."

He said while those memories were something he had to overcome, they also helped define who he is today.

"I have said sometimes that I would not have had my career if not for my father because that's where all the creativity comes from," Koontz said. "When I write about sociopaths, I'm writing from the trenches."

Those experiences have helped Koontz sell 450 million copies of his books. Fourteen were number-one bestsellers, making him one of the richest authors alive.

It's the kind of success that enabled Koontz to purchase his home high above California's Newport Coast. He shares it with his wife of 48 years, Gerda. They first met at a neighborhood birthday party in 1949 and now have a home theater bigger than the homes they grew up in. They named it after the movie house in their Pennsylvania town.

"We both grew up so poor, and we wanted to create a place that was perfect for us, and I think we didn't know where to stop, so we just kept going," Koontz said.

He uses that same unstoppable drive in his writing, which he does for about 10 hours each day. Koontz still uses a two-decade-old computer.

Koontz is aware that the size of his name on his books is now much larger than the book's title. But he doesn't consider himself a celebrity author -- he's just the guy who lives down the street who knows how to tell a story.

"Writing talent is a gift. It's nothing I ever earned," Koontz said. "The only thing I can earn is the craftsmanship with which I do it, but I can't take pride in the fact that I can do it because that's something I was born with."