The Secrets of El Dorado by Dominic G. K. Royston

Daniel’s unexciting life is shattered when his father’s journal is returned, revealing a hidden family secret. The truth behind Sir Walter Raleigh’s final expedition for the legendary City of Gold. 


Teaming up with his estranged brother Jacob, the Laigher brothers must overcome their personal feelings towards one another, as they soon become entangled in a race for Raleigh’s long-lost treasure as they hunt for the fabled ‘El Dorado’.

About the Author

Born in Portsmouth, Dominic has grown up surrounded and influenced by history. Never seen without a book in his hand, reading was a passion and writing a hobby; until he took a chance and pursued his ambition to become an Author. Graduating from Bath Spa with a BA in Creative Writing with English Literature, he was given the opportunity to join the MA in Writing for Young People, writing and completing his first Daniel Laigher Adventure, The Secrets of El Dorado. Having spent the last four years in beautiful Bath, it was time for the next adventure and now lives in Exeter. When he isn’t scribbling in a notebook or reading, he can be found exploring Dartmoor, or often near or in the sea.

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The Secrets of El Dorado by Dominic Royston, introduced by Freya Norley, Jessamy Corob Cook, Marine Brenier and Ellie Halls

Dom takes a classic boy’s adventure story and adds a depth of emotion that carries the action to a new level. His characters are brothers who each have their reasons to take on their father’s treasure-hunting quest, yet ultimately it is their differences that bring them together. An adventure with a lot of heart and soul. FN

One of my favourite elements of Dom’s writing is his ability to combine a thrilling adventure with authentic emotion and complex relationships. I’ve particularly felt this in his protagonist, Daniel, a character with a lot going on beneath the surface, who I’d be thrilled to journey to the ends of the earth with. JCC

Dom’s passion for The Secrets of El Dorado is clear, and his work developing it has paid off. The Laigher Brothers’ adventure is full of fast-paced action, with school fights, house fires, and lots of mysteries. It’s a novel that teenage boys are sure to enjoy. MB

This story balances the thrill of action-packed treasure-hunting with the heartache of losing a parent, coping with the fallout of that loss, and how the boys can find strength in their brotherly bond no matter their differences. EH

What was your inspiration for this story?

In 2016, during a writing exercise in my first year of university, we had to come up with a list of ‘What If’ questions for plot scenarios. I jotted down a few ideas and thought nothing of it, until two years later, when I was sitting in an airport, waiting for my flight home after a long summer working abroad. I hadn’t been to sleep at this point and I had been there since midnight. So, at 4am, in an effort to stay awake, I was flicking through my notebook, waiting for my gate to open, when I came across an idea that I had scribbled down in the margins. What if El Dorado was real? By the time my flight was in the air, I was unable to sleep, busy writing what would eventually form the basis of my novel.

What was your most memorable moment on the MA?

Has to be Lucy’s racehorse, Frankel, that she used to explain trimming the excess off your writing. It was especially helpful and funny when it was referred to or brought out during the workshop.

What is the most important thing you learned on the MA?

I could be here all day singing the praises of the MA tutors and how much they all taught me; the calibre of teaching is unmatched. But if I was to single one thing out, it would be that your greatest ally is workshopping and feedback; it spurs you to improve and do better. Writing can be solitary, so letting someone glance over your work might mean they spot something that you miss or confirm what you’re doing is working. I’m going to miss our weekly workshops.

What’s your favourite part of the writing process?

Taking your ideas that you scribbled down in a notebook, on the back of a napkin or on a Post-it note, and seeing those same ideas come to life on the page; there is no better feeling.

What do you like doing when you’re not writing?

I spend a lot of time inside when I’m writing and reading, so when I’m not, I love to be active and outside whenever I can. I am happiest when I am by the sea, and I can often be found in or near the water.

What is your top piece of advice for aspiring writers?

I’ll pass on something someone once told me. Don’t ever think you’re not good enough. There is always something you can do to get better and improve because ultimately, no one was ever born a writer.

What was your favourite book as a child?

Dr Seuss being read to me by my grandmother is a particularly fond memory, or poring over my copies of Hergé’s Adventures of Tintin. But my favourite book series as a child has to be the Alex Rider series, as it is what got me into reading and writing in the first place.

What place in fiction do you most want to visit?

That is a tough one, but I’d have to say the Oasis from Ready Player One or maybe Camp Half-Blood.