Review Blog

May 14 2011

Interview with Elaine Ouston, author of The mystery of Nida Valley

cover image

Today I am hosting Elaine Ouston on her blog tour. Elaine Ouston's latest fantasy book, The Mystery of Nida Valley, a tale of magic, time-travel and adventure for readers aged 10+ has just been released. It is the first book in a series about a hidden valley full of ancient animals, dinosaurs, and much more.

What authors/books did you read as a child?
As a beginning reader, I loved the fantasy of Enid Blyton's books like The Magic Faraway Tree, but by about ten, I had switched to her adventure stories. I read most of the series of The Famous Five, The Secret Seven, and anything I could get my hands on in the same ilk. From my teens on my taste changed and I started to read fantasy. The Lord of The Rings is my all time favourite.

When did you first become interested in being a writer?
At school, I loved writing compositions (short stories) in English class, and would send hours dreaming up interesting plots for them.

Did you consider a career in writing?
In year eight - the year we finished lower school then - I was told by the guidance office that I had the potential to study either art or writing - to become a graphic artist or journalist. It was a hard decision, but I choose art and worked in the industry for over twenty years. But I never lost my desire to write. During this time I also studied creative writing. My writing at that time was advertising related - advertising copy writing, newsletters, press releases etc.

Name authors or books that have influenced or inspired your own writing in some way?
As I have already mentioned, J. R. R. Tolkien is my all-time favourite author. Enid Blyton, C. S. Lewis and The Bronte sisters, follows him closely but there are so many current novelists who also inspire me. I am fortunate enough to have most of them as my Facebook friends. The few I haven't yet met are Maria V. Snyder, Matthew Reilly and Tim Winton.

If you were travelling and were told you could only take one book with you, what book would it be and why?
I wouldn't be able to decide - that's why I'm taking an eBook reader to Europe with me - so I can take a whole library.

What do you hope your readers will take away from reading your books?
Except for knowledge of the megafauna, I want my readers to be totally absorbed in the world I've created, as if they too have journeyed to the valley. To share the laughter, tears and fears my characters feel. To remember the courage of my protagonists as they faced danger and take that courage into their own lives. I want them to finish reading my book with a satisfied feeling, but with a desire to share more adventures with my characters. I want them I want them like it so much they recommend it to their friends. Is all that too much to hope for?

What advice could you give aspiring authors about the process of writing and self-publishing?
I believe writing fiction is 70% imagination and 30% knowledge and skill. However, that 30% is vital to have before you start your story. Be sure to read anything that you can get your hands on about writing or do some formal study. If you decide to self-publish, make sure that you have the manuscript appraised and edited to ensure it is ready. I had two published authors, and many friends read my story first. I listened to their advice and re-wrote the scenes that weren't working, then sent it off to an editor and a proof-reader before publication.

Why did you decide to offer your books as e-books?
As many children are more interested in electronic gadgets than books, I hoped it would pick up a few more readers. I think it is the way of the future, unfortunately.

Where can we buy your book The Mystery of Nida Valley?
Hopefully, in your local bookshop. Dennis Jones and Associates is distributing it so if it is not in stock, just ask the store to order it for you. Or, you can get a cheaper, signed, dedicated printed copy from my website. eBooks in many formats are also available there. Payment is via PayPal.

In conjunction with this blog tour, you can go in the draw to win one of three copies of the book. Go to and check out the Collector Cards page. Then answer this question: What megafauna animal would you like to see in the flesh and why?

The competition will close at midnight on May 15th 2011. The answers will be assigned a number, and that number will be put in a draw. The winners will be notified by email. The winners will also be eligible to enter the Code Cracker Game.
Pat Pledger

Archived Blog Entries