Author Elaine Russell on IRDA Winner “Martin McMillan and the Secret of the Ruby Elephant”



1.      What is the name of the book and when was it published?

Martin McMillan and the Secret of the Ruby Elephant — published July 2012

 What’s the book’s first line?

“Martin racked his brain for something clever to say.”

What’s the book about?  Give us the “pitch”.

In the second Martin McMillan book, thirteen-year-old Martin and his friend Isabel skate their way through this fast-paced adventure, traveling from Chicago to Thailand to solve the theft of the Ruby Elephant. The 15th century Thai statue is part of a mysterious legend that holds the secret to a hidden treasure. The friends must decipher a complicated puzzle of clues based on Buddhist symbols and artifacts at archeological ruins, as they track down the thieves and try to stay out of harm’s way.

What inspired you to write the book?  A particular person? An event?

I began writing the Martin McMillan series when my son was ten years old. He was a good student, but it was hard to find books that held his attention. I used his interests in skate boarding and our family’s love of travel to write stories that would appeal to reluctant readers, particularly boys. These fun and exciting stories also introduce kids to the history, art, and culture of other countries. My family in Spain provided the inspiration for Martin’s friend Isabel.

What’s the most distinctive thing about the main character?  Who-real or fictional-would you say the character reminds you of?

Martin is a somewhat hapless and not overly brave kid who Isabel leads into unexpected situations. But he rises to the occasion to solve the mystery and save the day. There are aspects of my son at that age in Martin’s character.


What’s the main reason someone should really read this book?

Martin McMillan and the Secret of the Ruby Elephant is a fun, fast-paced adventures that will capture kids’ interest while also introducing the history, art, and culture of Thailand.

3 replies
  1. avatar
    Anne Pfeffer says:

    This sounds really cute and seems like it would in fact interest those young reluctant readers. Plus Thailand and Buddhism,, wrapped up in a mystery — I’d read it myself! I’m curious how you’re marketing an indie book to middle graders — care to expand on that? I’m working on a middle grade book myself.


    • avatar
      Elaine Russell says:

      Hi Anne,

      It is a little hard marketing self-published books, but getting good reviews and awards from organizations like Indie Reader, Foreword Reviews and other indie organizations help. If you can get out and meet some teachers and do a few school visits then they can help recommend the book as well.

      There are many articles, book etc on how to market. I’m still learning!

      Good luck with your book. Let me know when it comes out. Thanks, Elaine

  2. avatar
    Greg Mannix says:

    I read the first of the Martin McMillan series, which took place in the Peruvian Andes, several years ago and enjoyed sharing it with my kids, who happened to be about the age of Martin at the time. It was really great that a novel held their attention while widening their horizons. Elaine has a way of narrating that is clever and entertaining for both young teenagers and adults alike. Really great! I can’t wait to read “Ruby Elephant”!


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