I Read/I Wrote: Gigi Pandian

In the I Read/I Wrote series, authors introduce a book they loved–in the genre in which they write–and share one of their own books.

GENRE: Traditional/Adventure Mystery

I READ: The Amelia Peabody Series by Elizabeth Peters

I can’t imagine the mystery genre without the dozens of novels written by Barbara Mertz under her pen name Elizabeth Peters. Her books are what brought me to the mystery genre as a reader, and later turned me into a writer. She inspired many other mystery authors writing today. She pushed the boundaries of the traditional mystery genre, writing novels with globe-trotting adventure, romance, humor, larger than life characters, real history, and incredibly clever puzzles. She was one of the founders of Malice Domestic, the convention that celebrates traditional mysteries, and her books are grounded firmly in that tradition, yet she also transcends it.

I grew up an only child who tagged along on my professor parents’ research trips all over the world, so I entertained myself reading and writing stories. Elizabeth Peters’ novels are what I gravitated towards. In middle school, I discovered her Vicky Bliss mystery series. American art history professor Vicky Bliss traveled to foreign lands on mysterious and romantic adventures that were fun, incredibly clever, and full of intriguing characters and settings. That was the gateway series that led me to the Amelia Peabody Egyptology mysteries set in the late 1800s, and librarian Jacqueline Kirby series.

Recommended Reading:
Borrower of the Night (Vicky Bliss Book 1)
Crocodile on the Sandbank (Amelia Peabody Book 1)
The Murders of Richard III (Jacqueline Kirby)

I WROTE: The Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mysteries

I wanted to capture the spirit of those books I adored, but with my own spin. I created a character who was a Californian with roots in India, like me, and used my childhood travels as inspiration.

In the first Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery, Artifact, historian Jaya Jones discovers the secrets of a lost Indian treasure may be hidden in a Scottish legend from the days of the British Raj. But she’s not the only one on the trail. From San Francisco to London to the Highlands of Scotland, Jaya must evade a shadowy stalker as she follows hints from the hastily scrawled note of her dead lover to a remote archaeological dig to track down both a treasure and a killer.

There are now five books in the series, each going from San Francisco to a different foreign destination as Jaya solves a present-day crime linked to a historical treasure from India’s colonial history. One of the biggest thrills in my writing career has been that reviewers frequently compare my books to those by Elizabeth Peters.

USA Today bestselling and Agatha Award-winning author Gigi Pandian is the child of cultural anthropologists from New Mexico and the southern tip of India. She spent her childhood traveling around the world on their research trips, and now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and a gargoyle who watches over the garden.

Gigi’s novels have been described as a cross between Indiana Jones and Agatha Christie. She writes the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt mystery series (Artifact, Pirate Vishnu, Quicksand, Michelangelo’s Ghost, The Ninja’s Illusion, and The Cambodian Curse & Other Stories), the Accidental Alchemist mysteries (The Accidental Alchemist, The Masquerading Magician, The Elusive Elixir, and The Alchemist’s Illusion), and locked-room mystery short stories.

For more information, please visit http://gigipandian.com.



11 thoughts on “I Read/I Wrote: Gigi Pandian”

  1. Thanks so much for visiting, Gigi! The adventures of Amelia Peabody and Vicky Bliss were family favorites when I was younger too. It’s fascinating to hear how reading Elizabeth Peters’ books and traveling with your professor parents are intertwined. Sounds like you saw a great deal of the world as you were growing up–what a wonderful thing.

    Congratulations on your books–love the Jaya Jones mysteries as well as the Accidental Alchemist books!


  2. Ms. Pandian, thank you for sharing your childhood experiences and what led you to write. What a fascinating story! Are the Jaya Jones mysteries geared towards a younger audience? Do you remember enough about the places you’ve been to write the details or do you revisit when you are writing about a particular location? Is the character Jaya a little or a lot autobiographical? I would love to meet you if you come to Denver or go to conferences. The cover art on your books captures the spirit of exotic places and mystery. Can’t wait to delve in to them, well, after December! Thanks again and congratulations on your success.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for having me, Cynthia!

    Stephanie — The books are for adults, but are kid-friendly traditional mysteries, so they’re appropriate for readers middle school age and up. Jaya is partly autobiographical, but very much her own person. And all the locations are inspired by my own travels, but I’ve gone back to visit each place when I write about it. I hope you enjoy the books!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This series sounds so cool! Also, the Accidental Alchemist series sounds awesome. It seems like you have a great ability to add fantastical elements to the genre.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Hi Gigi! I really like how you added your own childhood experiences into your own books. Were you reflecting while writing, and did you learn more about yourself that you’ve never known before? I would love to read your books when I have time.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Brandy — At the time, I didn’t feel like I was reflecting, but that’s what I was doing. Consciously, I wanted to recapture the fun of those adventures, and I wanted an excuse to revisit and do more research there. I learned more about myself not from the settings I chose, but I learned how important a creative outlet was for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. When you first started writing these, did you know they were going to become a series? Did your publisher ask you to make more or was it your own decision?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Colby — I envisioned the first Jaya Jones novel as the start of a series. It was a combination of factors. I love reading series myself, so I wanted to create something like the books I love to read. I also had a lot of ideas for other adventures, so I wanted to write them. My earlier ideas have shifted over time, but I’ve still got a lot more ideas I’m excited about.

    Liked by 1 person

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