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The Sirens of Suspense




Gigi Pandian is a mystery writer, photographer, and graphic designer in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is the child of two cultural anthropologists, one from the southern tip of India, the other from Albuquerque, New Mexico. She tried to escape her fate when she left a PhD program for art school, but adventurous academic characters wouldn’t stay out of her head. Thus was born the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery Series.

Gigi was awarded a Malice Domestic Grant for her debut mystery novel, ARTIFACT, which was released in August of 2012. Suspense Magazine named ARTIFACT one of the best books of 2012 in their “Best of 2012” awards.

“ARTIFACT is witty, clever, and twisty…Do you like Agatha Christie? Elizabeth Peters? Then you’re going to love Gigi Pandian.”
— Edgar-winning author Aaron Elkins

Find Gigi on Twitter and Facebook.

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Do you live in southern California? Gigi will be doing two events there next week: Thursday, November 29 from 6 – 8 p.m. at Traveler’s Bookcase in Los Angeles, and Saturday, December 1 from 3 – 5 p.m. at Mystery Ink in Huntington Beach. item9

Thank you to the Sirens of Suspense for inviting me! Since I know one of the reasons the Sirens enjoyed my debut mystery novel, ARTIFACT, was because it paid homage to Elizabeth Peters, I thought I’d talk about the influence the female sleuths in those mysteries had on my writing—and the writing of many other mystery writers.

Since 1972, Elizabeth Peters has written dozens of books across three series’ about adventurous academic women: Amelia Peabody, a Victorian era English woman who becomes an Egyptologist; Vicky Bliss, a present-day Midwestern professor of art history who goes on all sorts of adventures in Europe; and Jacqueline Kirby, an American librarian who becomes a romance novelist. The books are adventures with a touch of romance and humor woven into clever mystery plots.

I’ve devoured Elizabeth Peters books since I was a teenager, and they’re a big part of why I became a mystery writer. The heroines of her series’ are unapologetically brilliant, but they also have a hell of a lot of fun in their lives. I didn’t want to be girl detective Nancy Drew. I wanted to be historian Vicky Bliss. I know that might sound like blasphemy to many mystery fans, but honestly, Vicky was having more fun.

When I began writing mysteries, it was a given that I’d write about a kick-ass female academic in some form. I’d briefly started a PhD program (having more to do with my upbringing than those books, though I’m sure they didn’t hurt) but quickly realized I should be using the creative side of my brain instead. I left for art school and also kicked my writing into high gear.

I created Indian-American history professor Jaya Jones, and I wanted to capture the spirit of the Elizabeth Peters novels with my own voice and stories. As soon as I started meeting other female mystery writers, I learned what a big influence her books had on so many of us. When I would mention her name, stories would immediately pour out of people about their favorite books and why a certain character was their favorite. item10

Elizabeth Peters (real name Barbara Mertz) was honored with a new award at last year’s Malice Domestic mystery convention. The line to have her sign books was so long that we had to draw numbers to get in line. I had her sign my beloved, beaten-up paperback copy of BORROWER OF THE NIGHT that I’ve had since I was thirteen.

When ARTIFACT came out earlier this year, I was thrilled that reviewers compared the book favorably to Elizabeth Peters. I see it as short-hand for an adventurous, light-hearted, twisty, female-led, character-driven puzzle that weaves in history and has just enough romance—which is a mouthful!

In each book in my series, historian Jaya Jones and friends travel from San Francisco to a different foreign destination. In ARTIFACT, Jaya Jones travels from San Francisco to London to the Highlands of Scotland, piecing together the secrets of a lost Indian treasure hidden in a Scottish legend from the days of the British Raj.

Next week, the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery novella FOOL’S GOLD comes out in OTHER PEOPLE’S BAGGAGE, a collection of three interconnected mystery novellas. In FOOL’S GOLD, when a world-famous chess set is stolen from a locked room during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Jaya and her magician best friend must outwit actresses and alchemists to solve the baffling crime. The novella anthology also includes the mysteries MIDNIGHT ICE by Diane Vallere, and SWITCH BACK by Kendel Lynn. Vallere and Lynn are two new mystery authors who have entertaining kick-ass heroines of their own, so I’m honored to be part of the collection.

Recommended Elizabeth Peters starter reading:

The Murders of Richard III (Jacqueline Kirby)

Borrower of the Night (Vicky Bliss)

Crocodile on the Sandbank (Amelia Peabody)





WHO IS AN AUTHOR WHO MADE A BIG IMPACT ON YOUR LIFE? Tell us, or ask Gigi a question by commenting below or on our Facebook page and you’ll be entered to win an Advance Reader Copy of OTHER PEOPLE’S BAGGAGE with Gigi’s new novella that comes out next week!

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