Ellen here, and I’m so thrilled to welcome Gigi Pandian. Gigi was one of my first mystery pals and we’ve shared some adventures together. Today she shares about the silver lining of a terrifying health ordeal.
June 2021 is a strange anniversary for me. Ten years ago this month, my life turned upside down when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had just turned 36, and I learned I’d have a year of aggressive cancer treatments ahead of me.
For all the wretchedness I endured that year, there were more silver linings than I could have imagined. There’s nothing like a scary health diagnosis to knock things into perspective. I was living on auto-pilot. I was spending time with my friends and family, but not appreciating them. I was traveling but grumbling about delayed flights instead of savoring walks through Old Town Edinburgh. I was writing, but not fully committing.
Shortly after my diagnosis, my writers group took me wig shopping and bought me an amazing, red-streaked wig that became my favorite cancer hair. I promised myself that I was going to finish writing the books I wanted to write, and that I’d treat my writers group to a writing retreat in Edinburgh, Scotland once I beat cancer.
For my 40th birthday, I made that trip happen.
It was that post-cancer celebratory writing retreat six years ago when I began working on the novel that would become UNDER LOCK & SKELETON KEY. I knew I wanted to tell Tempest Raj’s story, but I didn’t yet know how to do it. It’s taken me several years, off and on in between other books, to figure out how to write this novel. It took this year of COVID quarantine, when my book research trips were canceled, for me to sit down in isolation in my writing nook at home and write the book.
My original title was THE VANISHING ACT OF TEMPEST RAJ, but it didn’t fit what the book had become, so Ellen Byron suggested the perfect title! (Thank you, Ellen!) UNDER LOCK & SKELETON KEY will be coming out from St. Martin’s Minotaur in March 2022 and is available for pre-order now.
Readers, Have you experienced a challenge that you turned into something better than you ever imagined?
An impossible crime. A family legacy. The intrigue of hidden rooms and secret staircases.
After a disastrous accident derails Tempest Raj’s career, and life, she heads back to her childhood home in California to comfort herself with her grandfather’s Indian home-cooked meals. Though she resists, every day brings her closer to the inevitable: working for her father’s company. Secret Staircase Construction specializes in bringing the magic of childhood to all by transforming clients’ homes with sliding bookcases, intricate locks, backyard treehouses, and hidden reading nooks.
When Tempest visits her dad’s latest renovation project, her former stage double is discovered dead inside a wall that’s supposedly been sealed for more than a century. Fearing she was the intended victim, it’s up to Tempest to solve this seemingly impossible crime. But as she delves further into the mystery, Tempest can’t help but wonder if the Raj family curse that’s plagued her family for generations—something she used to swear didn’t exist—has finally come for her.
More about the book: https://www.gigipandian.com/secret-staircase-mysteries
Gigi Pandian is the USA Today bestselling and multiple award-winning author of the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt mysteries, the Accidental Alchemist mysteries, and locked-room mystery short stories. Her works have won Agatha, Anthony, Lefty, and Derringer awards, and her debut novel was awarded the Malice Domestic Grant. She’s the child of professors from New Mexico and the southern tip of India, and spent her childhood traveling around the world on their research trips. She now lives in Northern California. UNDER LOCK & SKELETON KEY is the first in a new series.
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