Anthony M. Strong - Books That Give You The Chills

Anthony M. Strong - Books That Give You The Chills
author of the day

Bestselling author, Anthony M. Strong, is best known for his John Decker series of novels, where an ex-cop has to deal with some very strange situations. Strong typically finishes a draft within three months, but when he isn't writing, he also enjoys playing the saxophone or doing some acting work. As our author of the day, Strong explains exactly how reading about a town that lives in an old office tower inspired Cold Sanctuary, tells us more about the Qalupalik and talks about how dreams influence his work.

Please give us a short introduction to Cold Sanctuary

Cold Sanctuary is set in a small Alaskan town cut off from the world, except by boat. An old Navy base, the town inhabits one of two towers, the other one crumbling away and abandoned. Into this bleak setting comes John Decker, called in by town officials to find out who, or what, is killing the residents one by one. 

What inspired you to write about the Qalupalik?

The Qalupalik is a creature believed by the Inuit to come out of the sea and steal away their children. It was used as a tale to keep children away from the water and to stop them misbehaving.

Tell us a bit about John Decker. Who is he and what makes him so special?

Decker is an ex-cop, used as a scapegoat after the events of the previous book, and is now somewhat of a laughing stock. Still, he knows what he encountered during the events of What Vengeance Comes, and refuses to change his story. This makes him the perfect person to deal with situations that are outside of the normal.

Cold Sanctuary is the third book in the series. How does it tie in with the previous books?

Each book can be read as a standalone story, but there is the overarching theme of Decker that ties them together. Decker has his own demons, and these are slowly revealed over the course of the books, and of course his story is far from resolved, leaving room for many more Decker books.

Why did you pick Alaska as the backdrop for your book?

I was looking for a remote place to put Decker into, and I read about a real town in Alaska that lives in an old office tower and is pretty much cut off from the rest of the world. The office building has become a self contained system, with shops, a movie theater and a school all within its walls. There are people in the real town who haven't left the building in years. Of course,  I changed the book town to suit my own ends, but it seemed like the perfect place to set a Decker novel. It's cold, isolated, hard to reach, and if trouble happens, no one is coming to the rescue.

How have your travels across the world influenced your writing?

I love to travel, and the people are so different in each region and country, it really allows me to add depth to the characters in my books..

Your work takes you to some very dark places. Do you ever get nightmares while writing your books?

No. I actually find that some of my best ideas come from dreams, but I don't view them as nightmares, and they happen before I write the book.

Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?

I play saxophone (although I haven't picked it up in a very long time) and I did a stint as an actor, appearing on stage and (very briefly) in a few films.

What was your greatest challenge when writing Cold Sanctuary?

Getting the setting right. The town had to be a place people would want to live, but also a place so remote and desolate that they were cut off.

Tell us about your writing habits. Are you a disciplined writer? Do you write during the day/night? Do you plot out your books before starting?

I write every day, mostly at night, although I do have days when I do nothing but write, and I love those. I have a room in my house specifically for writing, lined with bookshelves of course. I do some plotting. I will start the book, get an idea of where I want to go, and then, once the characters and situations are set in my head, will write out a brief one line description of each chapter, all the way to the end, so that I can see if the story arc works before getting into too much trouble. 

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

I like to complete a first draft within three months, and then it goes out to the editor, and the revisions begin, which can take a couple more months.

What are your three all-time favorite movies, and why?

Alien, because it is such a perfect horror movie.  The characters are trapped in a setting they can't escape, with an unseen and unstoppable force stalking them.

The Lost Boys, because it strikes a good blend of horror and comedy, and also because it's the only movie based on the Peter Pan story that says, what if Peter Pan was really a vampire?

Christmas Vacation, because, well... It's Christmas Vacation!

What are you working on right now?

I have two books in the works. The Haunting of Willow House, which will be out in January, and a new Decker book set in Florida provisionally titled Crimson Deep.

Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?

The best place is my website,, and of course on Just search my name and my stuff will come up.

This deal has ended but you can read more about the book here.