Sunday, January 11, 2015

Interview with Gigi Pandian

Gigi Pandian, the author of the Accidental Alchemist, is answering our questions today. That's her in the photo above with a Notre Dame Gargoyle in Paris. Her main character's sidekick is a gargoyle brought to life. Don't forget to comment below for a chance to win an Accidental Alchemist mug (pictured below). 

Here's a little about The Accidental Alchemist: 
    Unpacking her belongings in her new hometown of Portland, Oregon, herbalist and reformed alchemist Zoe Faust can’t help but notice she’s picked up a stowaway. Dorian Robert-Houdin is a living, breathing three-and-a-half-foot gargoyle—not to mention a master of French cuisine—and he needs Zoe’s expertise to decipher a centuries-old text. Zoe, who’s trying to put her old life behind her, isn’t so sure she wants to reopen her alchemical past... until the dead man on her porch leaves her no choice. The book includes recipes.
And now, Gigi answers our questions: 
  • What was your favorite book growing up and why? 
When I was little, I loved Scooby Doo. Spooky, fun adventures with rational explanations is a mix I love to this day. To supplement the TV show I adored, my mom bought me a big book of Scooby Doo stories that she would read to me. Once she’d read the stories countless times, I declared that I wanted more. But there weren’t any more books, so my mom made up new Scooby Doo stories for me. But she tells me I would inevitably take over telling the story, because I didn’t like the direction her stories were going. Scooby Doo was my first foray into mystery storytelling. 

  • How long did it take you to get your first draft done of this book?
I wrote a first draft of The Accidental Alchemist during NaNoWiMo -- National Novel Writing Month -- where you sign up to write a 50,000-word draft of a novel in 30 days. I like to write first drafts quickly, because it allows me to get to the heart of the story. A first draft is never going to be well-written, so NaNoWiMo gives me permission to let go of my inner editor and write the story that wants to be told. Revising comes later. (NaNoWriMo is what helped me complete my first novel, Artifact, before it went on to receive a Malice Domestic Grant. Before then, I was never able to get to THE END.) 

  • What did you do to research the book?
Research is one of my favorite things about writing! Since all of my mystery novels are adventures that involve history and foreign destinations, I have to do a lot of research to get facts right. My parents are anthropologists, plus my dad is originally from India, so I got to travel to several foreign countries with them, starting when I was quite young. Now that I’m writing fiction in destinations including Scotland, India, and France, I travel back to the countries where I’ll be setting a book, plus read up on the history involved in my stories. 

The Accidental Alchemist is set in Portland, Oregon, and also involves a mystery from Paris, France. Alchemist Zoe Faust was born over 300 years ago, still alive today after accidentally discovering the Elixir of Life, and her sidekick is a gargoyle who was accidentally brought to life in the 1800s by French stage magician Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin. So there’s a lot of history to explore. Even though I write fiction, it’s important to me to get the historical details right. 

  • What was the last mystery novel you read, other than your own, that you LOVED? Why did you love it?

Marisha Pessl’s Night Film. It’s a difficult book to characterize, but literary mystery is probably the closest fit. I love the book because Pessl is a master at creating mysteries with thoroughly satisfying endings that are simultaneously open to the reader’s interpretation. 

Check out the smoothie recipe that Gigi recommends that you drink with her book

Bio: Gigi Pandian is the USA Today bestselling author of the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt mystery series (Artifact, Pirate Vishnu, and the forthcoming Quicksand) and the new Accidental Alchemist mysteries. Gigi’s debut mystery novel was awarded a Malice Domestic Grant, and her short fiction has been short-listed for Agatha and Macavity awards. A cancer diagnosis in her 30s taught her two important life lessons: healing foods can taste amazing, and life’s too short to waste a single moment. Gigi spent her childhood being dragged around the world by her cultural anthropologist parents, and now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with an overgrown vegetable garden in the backyard. Visit her at and connect with her on Facebook ( and on Twitter (@GigiPandian). 


  1. What a cool mug! Sounds like a great book!

    littleone AT shaw DOT ca

  2. Yea Scooby Doo! I didn't realize he had books-and how wonderful to create your own! I love when real history gets mixed with fiction! I really enjoyed reading The Accidental Alchemist and I adore the cover-especially the detail of Dorian holding a whisk!

    cozyupwithkathy @ gmail dot com

  3. Nice interview

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  4. Our winner is bn100 - Look for an e-mail shortly.