Guest Blogger Gigi Pandian
Thanks so much for inviting me, Lesa. It’s especially exciting to be here today, the day my debut mystery novel Artifact is officially on sale! Since it’s book launch day, I thought I’d share how this book came to be.
I grew up traveling with my anthropologist parents and devouring mystery novels featuring adventurous academics, like the Vicky Bliss and Amelia Peabody mysteries by Elizabeth Peters. In junior high, I created a comic book about the adventures of Minnesota Smith, a female Indiana Jones.
As I grew up, I realized I didn’t want to be an academic myself, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t have fun writing about them. When I set out to write a mystery novel, I wanted it to be a traditional puzzle-plot like my favorite mysteries, and to have the same sense of adventure and similar strong female protagonist as my Minnesota Smith creation.
The idea behind the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery Series is that in each book, Indian-American history professor Jaya Jones solves a present-day mystery linked to a historical treasure. In Artifact, Jaya travels from San Francisco to the British Library in London to a Pictish archaeological dig in the Highlands of Scotland, piecing together the secrets of a lost Indian treasure that are hidden in a Scottish legend from the days of the British Raj.
My dad is from India and my mom did a lot of her research in Scotland, so those were two countries with fascinating histories where I’d spent time. So when it came to creating a character who could connect those histories, I found myself with Jaya, a woman born in India to an Indian mother and American father -- a character bridging two cultures who would understand the connections of countries with overlapping histories. In an early draft of her character, I thought she might be a journalist rather than a historian. Both are truth-seeking professions, but as I developed ideas for stories, I knew she was a history professor.
For years, I filled notebooks with story ideas and miscellaneous research. It was a fun hobby, but I was never sure it would amount to more than that. Then I discovered National Novel Writing Month. Signing up for NaNoWriMo and agreeing to write a 50,000-word novel in the space of a month is what helped me finally finish a novel, not just talk about doing so.
I liked what I’d written, so I submitted it to the Malice Domestic Grants competition that awards grants to unpublished writers who are writing in the traditional mystery genre. I couldn’t quite believe it when I received the phone call telling me that I’d won. It was time to start taking the novel seriously! I used the grant to finance a research trip back to the UK, joined my local Sisters in Crime chapter, and got involved with a wonderful writers group. It took me another few years to learn to craft a good mystery, and it’s been a lot of fun every step of the way.
Gigi Pandian is a mystery writer, photographer, and graphic designer in the San Francisco Bay Area. She was awarded a Malice Domestic Grant for her debut mystery novel, Artifact: A Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery, which was released August 28, 2012. To sign up for Gigi’s newsletter or connect with her on Facebook or Twitter, visit http://gigipadrian.com
Thank you, Gigi! And, good luck with Artifact and future books.
ARTIFACT: A Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery
by Gigi Pandian
Gargoyle Girl Productions