Guest Chick: Gigi Pandian

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:

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.

Sign up for Gigi’s email newsletter for a free mini cookbook and free novelette:

33 thoughts on “Guest Chick: Gigi Pandian

  1. Gigi, we are truly honored to have you as our guest today. Just saw Under Lock & Skeleton Key featured prominently under “New Fiction” (literally, directly under the sign) at the B&N here in Naples and I was so thrilled for you. (And for me too, lol: Wow, I actually know this amazing author!) In addition to your wonderful new book that is sure to light up the charts, thank you for all the support and wise advice you offer to all members of the writing community.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks so much for having me today! The Chicks are such a wonderful group of authors who I’m happy to have as part of my wonderful writer community. I’m traveling this week to do a few book events, and I’m so happy I get to see Ellen *in person* for the first time in ages!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. For a weird situation, I do not have a local readers. All of my reader friends live across the country and thank goodness for conventions like Left Coast Crime, Malice Domestic, and Bouchercon where I can sit and chat with them about books.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Three huge cheers to you, Gigi, on the new release! It’s in my TBR group. I’m pretty solitary in my writing process, but I rely on the mystery community as a whole to keep me going in this crazy business. Mystery writers, like you and The Chicks, as such kind, giving folks!

      Liked by 2 people

    2. YES. I love that I get to see folks from all over at those conventions. They provide such a great community, and I’m so looking forward to getting back to them this year. Looking forward to seeing you soon, Dru Ann.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. For a weird situation, I do not have a local readers. All of my reader friends live across the country and thank goodness for conventions like Left Coast Crime, Malice Domestic, and Bouchercon where I can sit and chat with them about books.


    1. Dru Ann, I’m not sure if my first reply went through, so I’m popping back to add that I’m so looking forward to seeing you soon as conventions are resuming this year.


  5. Thanks for your inspirational post and good luck with your new book, Gigi. No, thank God, I don’t go it alone. I have a local beta readers group for my Natalie McMasters Mysteries that I’ve been part of for several years. Like you, I’ve made friends with other mystery authors by travelling to conferences. This blog has also been a big part of my support system. Finally, I want to shout out my friends in the Baker Street Irregulars, who’ve provided great support with my Sherlock Holmes stories, and helped me become a traditionally published author. I’d love to correspond with you if you’re up for it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. First off, congrats, Gigi! Super excited to read your book!

    As for your questions: I used to belong to an in-person and an online book club. Now, I’m a solitary reader.

    But I love being a part of the mystery writing community! Everyone is very warm and welcoming. Groups like Crime Writers of Color (thanks for being a co-founder, Gigi!) & Sisters in Crime as well as MWA and more, have been so helpful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve never been good at being part of a book club. I find myself unable to read books I don’t enjoy (which might be why I was a terrible graduate student as well…) so I seek people out to discuss a book only *after* I’ve read it 😉

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Oh my gosh, I’ve always felt like a bad book club person. One of my Ladies books has a book club premise (basically, my sleuths take over the murderee’s book club, which is a disaster. I wrote a promo post once called “There’s No Crying in Book Club.” I swear (most of) it was true!


  7. Gigi, so thrilled for you!! It’s such a good book. And I so value our friendship. Like you, I came into the mystery world knowing no one. And found my tribe. I’ve made more mystery author friends in my brief time in the community than I made in my 25 year tv writing career. Too many to count! But our Fearsome Foursome really inspires and motivates me. Xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Gigi! *waving madly* Can’t wait to see you at both LCC and Malice! As to your question, I can’t imagine not having at least a few trusted writing pals. I’ve been haunting writer’s conferences and reader conventions since the late 1990s which broadened my world in a marvelous way. Almost all my friends these days are writers in various stages of their careers, and my friends who aren’t writers are readers who teach me things and give me different perspectives every day. I’d be lost without all of them!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Community is wonderful, period. And I love how supportive the writers community is of each other. It always warms my heart.

    My copy of your new book arrived last week. Looking forward to reading it.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I definitely have a community – or communities, I should say. My critique group, my Sisters in Crime chapter, SinC National and all the various blog communities – I wouldn’t be anywhere without them.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Yay about your new book, Gigi! (And I love the title!) And thanks so much for visiting the Chicks, today!

    There’s no way I’d be where I am in my writing career if not for the fabulous, warm, and endlessly generous crime writing community. Chick Ellen was one of the first people I met in the community, as we both had debut mysteries being released around the same time with Crooked Lane Books, and it’s been non-stop welcoming and friendships ever since! And I so look forward to seeing you, Gigi, as well as the Chicks and all my other crime writing community pals soon at LCC and Malice! xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Gigi, it’s so great to have you here!!

    I love to fangirl about the mystery writing/reading community. I don’t think I’ve ever known a warmer, kinder, more beautiful group of humans. You were one of the first people to welcome me into this community and make me feel at home, and I’m forever grateful! ❤


  13. Hi Gigi: Congratulations on your latest–very excited about it. And oh, the mystery writing and reading community is amazing, and I’m so grateful for all the kind people I’ve gotten to know. ❤️


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