Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Interview with Gigi Pandian

Gigi Pandian returns to Mystery Playground today to answer our nosy questions about her new book, Quicksand. You can see which drink she paired with her last book here. Don't forget to sign up for the rafflecopter giveaway below. Gigi is giving away some great prizes. 

Where did you get the idea for this book? How did you know that was the book you wanted to write?

On May 3, 1998, an art heist took place at the Louvre in Paris. The theft took place in broad daylight, on a crowded Sunday afternoon, and the thieves made off with a valuable Corot painting. 

On that day, I was a recent college graduate backpacking through Europe. The Louvre offered free admission one Sunday per month. That Sunday was May 5, 1998. I was there at the Louvre during the art heist. 

The museum was locked down for hours, but the painting was never recovered. We were all corralled into the large main lobby beneath the pyramid, presumably to be searched, but it was chaos. It was fascinating to watch! 

I didn’t yet know I’d become a mystery novelist, but once I did, I knew I’d write about that experience one day. In QUICKSAND, history professor Jaya Jones visits Paris for the first time and finds herself part of an art heist at the Louvre that’s much more than it seems.   

How long did it take you to get your first draft done of this book?

I write quickly and intensely, but in many stages that build out the book from a messy idea into a polished manuscript. So it’s fair to say that this book took me one month to write, but also that it took well over a year.   

Until I discovered National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), I’d toyed with the idea of writing a novel but never finished anything. The publicly declared goal of writing a 50,000-word draft of a novel in 30 days gave me the push I needed to finish a book. I wrote a draft of my debut novel, ARTIFACT, in 30 days. 

The energy of writing a draft in a month continues to work for me, so that’s how I begin all of my books. 

If your protagonist were actually a real person, would you be friends with them? Why or why not?

I’m a mystery fan who most enjoys books with likeable characters, so that’s what I like to write, too. 

Jaya has some challenging people in her life (such as her academic rival) but I’ve also given her a set of quirky friends (such as a stage magician and a librarian punk) who took on lives of their own and who I wouldn’t mind having in my own life. 

What did you do to research the book?

Research is one of my favorite parts of writing. Not as an avoidance technique, but I love the subjects and destinations featured in my books – which is why I write about them in the first place!

QUICKSAND is set in San Francisco and in three spots in France: Paris, Nantes, and Mont Saint-Michel. As with the other books in the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery Series, this one involves India’s colonial history. I read up on the history of Mont Saint-Michel and delved deeper into India’s colonial history – and then I dragged my husband to France 

In QUICKSAND: Historian Jaya Jones finds herself on the wrong side of the law during an art heist at the Louvre. To redeem herself, she follows clues from an illuminated manuscript that lead from the cobblestone streets of Paris to the quicksand-surrounded fortress of Mont Saint-Michel. With the help of enigmatic Lane Peters and a 90-year-old stage magician, Jaya delves into France’s colonial past in India to clear her name and catch a killer.


USA Today bestselling author Gigi Pandian is the child of cultural anthropologists from New Mexico and the southern Tip of India. After spending her childhood being dragged around the world, she now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and writes the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt mystery series (Artifact, Pirate Vishnu, and Quicksand) and the Accidental Alchemist mysteries (The Accidental Alchemist). Gigi’s debut novel was awarded a Malice Domestic Grant and named a “Best of 2012” debut by Suspense Magazine, and her short fiction has been short-listed for Agatha and Macavity awards.  

Sign up for Gigi’s newsletter at, connect with her on Facebook ( and Twitter (@GigiPandian), and check out her gargoyle photography on the Gargoyle Girl Blog ( 

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  1. These books sound really great, I love art, mystery, and international settings. Way cool!

  2. Wow! A draft a month.