We Chicks have a very special treat for you today: magical mystery author, locked-room expert and our good friend Gigi Pandian, whose latest Under Lock & Skeleton Key has just hit the shelves. Take it away, Gigi!
Thanks so much to Lisa and Ellen for inviting me to join the Chicks today!
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about something that’s not a new idea, but it’s worth reiterating—and celebrating. My latest novel was published last week, and it’s exciting that it’s getting more buzz than any of my previous books—but I’m keenly aware that there’s no way I’d have gotten here without my writer pals.
Writing isn’t necessarily the solitary profession it might look like from the outside. It’s fun and fulfilling, but can also be challenging and frustrating, so I know I’d never have stuck with it if I didn’t have such a wonderful support system of other authors—friends who are kindred spirits, who understand the frustrations of writing, and who I can brainstorm with.
Of course, my writing journey didn’t begin like this. I didn’t know a soul in the writing community when I finished a draft of my first novel, Artifact. But the mystery writing community welcomed me with open arms—something I found baffling at the time, but I now understand as I try to welcome new writers into the community.
I bet that many of you are fans of Juliet Blackwell’s books. I’ve been a fan of hers from her first novel, Faint of Art, which she wrote with her sister under the pseudonym Hailey Lind. I was thrilled to meet her at my first Malice Domestic mystery convention. I told her what a big fan of hers I was, and we got to chatting. It turned out she lived just a few miles away from me in Northern California, so she invited me to join her local chapter of Sisters in Crime. We became good friends, became part of the same writers group, and remain close friends today. (She interviewed me for my first book launch event last week!)
I began working on the book that became Under Lock & Skeleton Key on a writing retreat with my writers group, and they pushed me to write the book I wanted this to be, even though it was tougher than my previous books.
Chicks Lisa and Ellen are in my weekly brainstorm group, which is a terrific combination of camaraderie and writing craft, and Ellen is the one who came up with the final title for Under Lock & Skeleton Key! Friendship is a strong thematic element inthe book, so I love that one of my cherished friends named the book. (Ellen also interviewed me for my second book launch event last week!)
I haven’t even touched on the many terrific writing organizations that provide community, but I’ve already rambled on long enough, so I’ll stop now and continue the conversation in the comments!
Authors, do you go it alone, or do you have a writing community?
Readers, I’m guessing since you’re a part of the Chicks on the Case community that this is no big surprise that writers are friends! Do you have a community of readers, like a book club? How do you like to connect with other mystery readers?
About the Book:
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
About the Author:
Gigi Pandian is a USA Today bestselling and award-winning mystery author, breast cancer survivor, and accidental almost-vegan. The child of cultural anthropologists from New Mexico and the southern tip of India, she spent her childhood being dragged around the world on their research trips and now lives outside San Francisco. She writes the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt mysteries, Accidental Alchemist mysteries, and Secret Staircase mysteries, kicking off with UNDER LOCK & SKELETON KEY. She’s been awarded Agatha, Anthony, Lefty, and Derringer awards, is currently an Edgar finalist, and is a co-founder of Crime Writers of Color.
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