Get Lost with Author Gigi Pandian

A century-old treasure map of San Francisco’s Barbary Coast.

Sacred riches from India.

Two murders, one hundred years apart.

And a love triangle…

Historian Jaya Jones has her work cut out for her.

1906. Shortly before the Great San Francisco Earthquake, Pirate Vishnu strikes the San Francisco Bay. An ancestor of Jaya’s who came to the U.S. from India draws a treasure map…

Present Day. Over a century later, the cryptic treasure map remains undeciphered. From San  Francisco to the southern tip of India, Jaya pieces together her ancestor’s secrets, maneuvers a  complicated love life she didn’t count on, and puts herself in the path of a killer to restore a revered treasure.

Links to buy the book in print or as an eBook: http://gigipandian.com/pirate-vishnu/

Advance Praise for PIRATE VISHNU:

“Forget about Indiana Jones. Jaya Jones is swinging into action, using both her mind and wits to solve a mystery. The story bounces from the early 1900s to present day, slowly peeling back layers of history while laying out a trail of red herrings in parallel storylines, all leading up to the surprising conclusion. Readers will be ensnared by this entertaining tale.”

RT Book Reviews

 “Move over Vicky Bliss and Joan Wilder, historian Jaya Jones is here to stay! Mysterious maps, legendary pirates, and hidden treasure—Jaya’s latest quest is a whirlwind of adventure.”

— Chantelle Aimée Osman of The Sirens of Suspense

“Jaya Jones is a young academic detective with no equal in terms of wits, style and creativity… Plenty of suspense, humor and bhangra beats.”

— Sujata Massey, Author of The Sleeping Dictionary and the Rei Shimura Mysteries

Pirate Vishnu is fast-paced and fascinating as Jaya’s investigation leads her this time to India and back to her own family’s secrets.”

—Susan C. Shea, Author of the Dani O’Rourke Mysteries

Let's get to know Gigi Pandian!

Welcome to Get Lost in a Story, Gigi.  Congratulations on your Agatha nomination for your locked-room mystery short story “The Hindi Houdini,” and for your second release – which is out today! 

DONNELL:  Now that you’re published and reaping rewards as a result, what is the most exciting thing about being published? 

GIGI: I love connecting with readers, including the thrill of readers comparing my books to those of my favorite author, Elizabeth Peters.

DONNELL:  Least favorite thing?

GIGI: I don’t like self-promotion, which is why I’ve adopted the rule that I only do things that are fun – like this interview! If enjoyable things help promote my books, that’s great. But life’s too short to worry about everything I could possibly be doing.

DONNELL:  Yay, glad we're considered fun.  Your books surround treasurer hunts, and I believe your ancestry. How much is your character Jaya Jones like Gigi Pandian, and in what ways is she different?

GIGI: When I meet readers in person, they frequently exclaim, “But you’re so tall!” I’m six feet tall in heels, but Jaya is five feet tall in her socks.

 When I began writing a novel, I wanted to draw upon my own multicultural experience (my dad is from India and my mom is American). At the same time, I didn’t want my main character to be me. I was born in southern California, traveled around the world with my anthropologist parents when I was a child, and went into an assortment of creative professions. Jaya was born in India, raised by a single dad in Berkeley, and is a rationalist who became a history professor. I love Jaya, but she’s not me.

DONNELL:    Your bio indicates you’re a world traveler. True? False? What is one thing you’ve learned from your travels that stays with you always?

GIGI:  I first visited Scotland when I was 10 years old, and I’ve been hooked on foreign travel ever since. I love the mystery of travel. When we’re out of our comfort zones, the world is a fascinating, mysterious place. I’ve never lost that sense of wonder when I travel somewhere new.
DONNELL:   Would your books make a good movie?

 GIGI:  Since all the books are treasure hunts, the movies would be a multicultural female version of Indiana Jones. Several reviewers have compared Jaya to Indiana Jones, which I’ve gotten a kick out of!

DONNELL:  Let’s bring you home for a bit.  What’s your favorite room in your house, and is it the same place you do your writing?

GIGI: You’re right – I love my tiny home office, which is lined with bookshelves and has a huge bay window. I do some writing there, but I get more done when I leave the distractions of home and go to a café to write.

DONNELL :  Name the most unusual thing you have in your closet. 

GIGI: I don’t have enough closet space to keep anything interesting in there! But in the spirit of this question, here’s an unusual thing I have at my house: I collect gargoyles.

DONNELL:  If you could meet anyone, past or present, living or dead, who would it be and why?

 GIGI: Now that I’m involved in the mystery writing community, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting most of my favorite authors. But one of my favorite authors died before I was born: John Dickson Carr. He was prolific at writing ingenious puzzle plot mysteries, and I’d love to talk with him about how he did it.

Gigi, thanks for answering our questions. 


Gigi Pandian is the child of cultural anthropologists from New Mexico and the southern tip of India. After being dragged around the world during her childhood, she tried to escape her fate when she left a PhD program for art school. But adventurous academics wouldn’t stay out of her head. Thus was born the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery Series. Gigi’s debut mystery novel, Artifact, was awarded a Malice Domestic Grant and named a “Best of 2012″ Debut Novel by Suspense Magazine. Pirate Vishnu is the follow-up.

Contact Links:


This week only, the eBook edition of ARTIFACT, the first book in the series, is available for only $.99!

ARTIFACT: A Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery (Book 1)

Links to buy the book in print or as an eBook: http://gigipandian.com/artifact/

Buy PIRATE VISHNU by February 17th and you can get a signed bookplate! Email your address along with proof of purchase to bookplates@gigipandian.com if you’d like a signed bookplate!

Links to buy the book: http://gigipandian.com/pirate-vishnu/



What’s the most exciting adventure you’ve had while traveling? Or if you’re more of an armchair traveler, what’s one of your favorite mystery novels that involves travel?


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  2. Hey Gigi and Donnell! Great interview! Gigi, John Dickson Carr's daughter lives in Cambridge--and she's terrific. She wrote a big historical about Jack the Ripper. If you are interested in connecting with her--if you haven't already--let me know.

    And I love how you say you "leave the distractions of home" and go to a coffee shop. Some people would see a coffee shop as far more distracting!

    Congratulations on your terrific success! xooxoo

    1. Thank you, Hank! And wow, I had no idea about Carr's daughter! I'm going to go check out her book!

  3. Great interview! I loved Artifact (as did my husband's aunt) and am looking forward to reading Pirate Vishnu. As far as exciting travel adventures, I'd say encountering two fer-de-lance snakes--among the world's deadliest--while hiking in Costa Rica. Scary!

    1. Thank you, Christine! I haven't yet made it to Costa Rica. Hmm... Now I'm not so sure about it... ;)

  4. Good morning, Gigi, Happy debut novel day!

    1. Forgot to answer your questions. I've only been in the United States with one side trip to Juarez. Every time I've been to a beach though, I've loved it. However, as an armchair reader I've traveled immensely, and one book I loved, loved, was Catherine Coulter's Devils Embrace and her description of Genoa Italy. Unfortunately that was a historical, so I doubt that today's Genoa would measure up! Have fun!

    2. Thanks for having me, Donnell. I'm noting down Devils Embrace in my notebook to check out. And don't sell modern Europe short -- when you've got imaginations like we do, it's easy to imagine the history of a place!

  5. Welcome to GLIAS, GIGI !!
    My exciting adventure was losing my wallet (and ID) on our flight day in NYC. I'll blog about that one day.


    1. Angi, that's one adventure I hope I don't experience! I hope the rest of your trip went well :)