Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Accidental Alchemist Book Launch Party Photos

A recap of the book launch party through photos

I brought my stuffed animal gargoyle to join in the fun. He doesn't look exactly like Dorian, the gargoyle in The Accidental Alchemist, but hey, he's still a gargoyle. 

Here he is inside a magician's top hat (relevant to the book). We used the hat to draw names of attendees to win Accidental Alchemist mugs and Book Passage gift certificates.

The gargoyle made the rounds. 

And yes, there was gargoyle-themed beer (in honor of Dorian), as well as French wine (in honor of alchemist Zoe Faust).

Several pals from my writers group joined in the fun.

Future writer?

Bookstore manager Cheryl McKeon was instrumental in making the event a success.

I talked about the story behind the book, did a short reading, and answered audience questions...

...before we got back to socializing and polishing off the gargoyle beer.

I've seen many favorite authors in the Book Passage newsletter over the years, so it was great fun to be included in their latest newsletter to advertise the event.

Thanks to everyone who joined me in person and in spirit!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Accidental Alchemist AUDIOBOOK

Do you like listening to audiobooks? You're in luck: The Accidental Alchemist is my first novel that's been made into an audiobook!

I didn't know what to expect when I signed the contract, so it was an unexpected surprise that the folks at Audible asked for input, through a "Casting Notes Invitation." Thinking about casting notes brought back memories of when I was involved in theater in high school! I listened to audiobook narrator samples, thought about comparisons to actors playing different roles as a frame of reference, and made notes about the speaking style I envisioned. It was fun to be part of the process and see just how much more goes into a successful reading than simply speaking the words on the page.

Listen to a sample.

Buy the audiobook.

I was so pleased that Audible hired Julia Motyka as the narrator. Her voice perfectly captures the two sides of alchemist Zoe Faust: forever 28 and optimistic about life but also having lived as an outsider for centuries. 

And the fabulous narrator can even do Dorian's French accent! I hope you'll enjoy her narration as much as I do.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Book Launch Day for The Accidental Alchemist!

The Accidental Alchemist hits bookstore shelves today! It's the first book in my new mystery series set in Portland, Oregon, featuring a centuries-old female alchemist and her French chef sidekickwho happens to be a gargoyle who was accidentally brought to life by a stage magician. 

Stay tuned for lots of fun tidbits about the book, along with some fun contests I've been cooking up. In the meantime, here are some details about the book and the book launch party happening next week: 

On the book jacket: 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.

There's plenty of culinary alchemy, and recipes are included. 

BUY THE BOOK at a bookstore or through an online retailer:

Buy directly from one of my favorite independent bookstores:


This is my first audiobook! (I'll talk more about that experience in another blog post.)

Thursday, January 15
Book Passage at the Ferry Building in San Francisco

Advance Praise for The Accidental Alchemist

“Pandian launches a supernatural cozy series that hits high marks for a modern twist on an ancient practice. Amusing supporting characters and historical details solidify this engaging mystery.”
—Library Journal

“Pandian sets this series apart from other paranormal mysteries with Zoe’s cute nonhuman sidekick and some mouthwatering vegan recipes.”
—Publishers Weekly

“This new series is off to an excellent start with an intriguing, eccentric amateur detective… This reviewer is eagerly anticipating more from this series, and a return of a cast more fun than an episode of Portlandia.”
—RT Book Reviews

“Zoe and Dorian are my new favorite amateur-sleuth duo!”
—Victoria Laurie, New York Times bestselling author

“The Accidental Alchemist is a recipe for a great read. Gigi Pandian’s pen never disappoints.”
—Juliet Blackwell, New York Times bestselling author

“A magical, whimsical cozy that will delight readers who enjoy Juliet Blackwell and Heather Weber mysteries!”
—Avery Aames, aka Daryl Wood Gerber

“The pace never lets down, the people are multilayered, and the plot is complicated enough so that it all blends into what promises to be the beginning of a fun new series… This a fabulous beginning to a series I’m looking forward to following!”
—Seattle Mystery Bookshop staff pick 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Mutual Admiration Society, Featuring Victoria Laurie & Juliet Blackwell

I've gotta say that one of the coolest things about being a writer is getting to know some of my favorite authors. And even more amazing? The fact that several of my favorite authors have enjoyed my books and endorsed them. (Yes, I still pinch myself about this fact.)

Victoria Laurie's new M.J. mystery,
out January 6, 2015.
I discovered Victoria Laurie's books in 2011, when I was going through chemotherapy and wanted to read fresh, engaging mysteries to keep my mind occupied. I devoured her ghost hunter and psychic eye mysteries, and I now eagerly await each new release. The M.J. Holliday ghost hunter mysteries are my favorites, so I'm thrilled that No Ghouls Allowed is out today! I know what I'm reading tonight.

Victoria's books are in the same genre as my new series (paranormal cozy mysteries), so when it was time to get reviews for The Accidental Alchemist, I summoned the courage to ask her if she'd be willing to read the book and give it an endorsement if she enjoyed it.

I was thrilled that Victoria took the time to read the book, and gobsmacked by how much she loved it. She even called me on the phone to tell me so! Who does that anymore? It was  unbelievable and lovely.

“Zoe and Dorian are my new favorite amateur-sleuth duo!” 
New York Times bestselling author Victoria Laurie

It's a wonderful feeling to receive a great review from a trade publication (I'm happy that The Accidental Alchemist received praise from Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, and others), but it's not the same as receiving a heartfelt endorsement from an author you admire.

Juliet Blackwell's latest mystery,
published in December 2014.
Juliet Blackwell is another of my favorite mystery authors. She's now a good friend of mine, but the first time I met her was when I approached her at a mystery convention to tell her how much I loved her first novel.

I was attending my first mystery convention, Malice Domestic. I didn't know a soul, but I'd read and loved Juliet's Feint of Art (written as Hailey Lind). Everyone at the convention was so friendly that it was easy to go up to Juliet and introduce myself. We quickly became friends, and she was an early and enthusiastic supporter of my rough draft of The Accidental Alchemist.

The Accidental Alchemist is a recipe for a great read. Gigi Pandian’s pen never disappoints.” 
New York Times bestselling author Juliet Blackwell

Juliet's books have always been great, but they keep getting better. If you're a fan of paranormal cozy mysteries, you should check out her new book Keeper of the Castle.

I'm tempted to ramble on about others, but it's time for me to get writing! I'll end with something that brings this blog post full circle:

If you've known me for a few years, you might remember hearing me squeal with excitement and disbelief that Aaron Elkins endorsed my first novel. Victoria Laurie and Juliet Blackwell weren't writing books when I was an impressionable kid, but Aaron Elkins was. I fell in love with his Gideon Oliver mysteries at the same time I did Elizabeth Peters' Vicky Bliss mysteries, as a teenager in the early 1990s.

Aaron Elkins signing my copy of
Gideon Oliver novel CURSES.
When I was getting ready to publish Artifact, I knew I'd regret it if I didn't have all the fun I possibly could with the book. That meant asking Aaron Elkins, a man I had never met, if he would read the book. I'd previously blogged about how much his books meant to me, so when I contacted him he already knew I was a big fan of his. That made him willing to check out Artifact.

When Aaron Elkins gave me an endorsement, I knew that whatever else happened in my publishing career, I'd already made it.

Artifact is witty, clever, and twisty. Do you like Agatha Christie? Elizabeth Peters? Then you’re going to love Gigi Pandian.”
Edgar-winning author Aaron Elkins

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Bouchercon 2014

I'm home after four days at Bouchercon, the world mystery convention, which was held in Long Beach this year. On my way home on Sunday I was on a flight with several other Bay Area authors, and our conversation as we waited to board sums up the whole convention experience: even though we attended the fan convention as authors, we were most excited when talking about the new mystery books and authors we discovered over the long weekend.

I roomed with a pal who was attending the convention for the first time. This wasn't my first Bouchercon, but it was my first time with multiple books out and multiple events scheduled. In other words, it was the first time I felt like I was attending professionally. But since I was a huge mystery fan long before I became a writer, I had to set alarms on my phone so I'd remember to stop browsing in the book room, chatting with old and new friends, or attending cool panels -- so I could be sure to attend my own events!

Roomie Mariah Klein in front of the hotel.

My gorgeous book cover for The Accidental Alchemist was on display at the Midnight Ink table. The publisher gave away Accidental Alchemist mugs and I signed Advance Reader Copies of the book for readers. And it was great having a chance to get to know my editor, publicist, and fellow Midnight Ink authors better over the weekend.

The Midnight Ink booth at Bouchercon, with The Accidental Alchemist on display!
Here I am with my fabulous editor Terri Bischoff. 

At the "Author Speed Dating" breakfast event on the first day, writers table-hopped to tell readers about their books. I handed out goodies from a magician's hat, because stage magic is one of the overlapping subjects in the two books I've got coming out in early 2015: The Accidental Alchemist coming from Midnight Ink in January, and Quicksand, the third Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery, coming from Henery Press in March. I paired up with fellow Henery Press author Susan Boyer, who writes the Liz Talbot mysteries, the first of which won an Agatha Award. We had fun until we started to lose our voices!

With Susan Boyer at "Author Speed Dating."

The Macavity Awards, given out by Mystery Readers International, were presented at the opening ceremonies. My locked room mystery "The Hindi Houdini" was up for Best Short Story. Up against fabulous short stories including Art Taylor's "The Care and Feeding of Houseplants" and John Connolly's "The Caxton Lending Library and Book Depository," I knew I wouldn't win, but it was such an honor to be nominated alongside those authors and stories. The Macavity went to to Art Taylor's story from Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. You can see the full list of Macavity nominees here.

The opening ceremonies. Fancy!

It was only a little over a year ago that I participated in the New Author breakfasts at mystery conventions. I got up early to support the authors I knew with new books out. Plus, I had my own selfish reason for attending: I learned about several new authors I hadn't previously heard of but who are now on my reading list. (I've already downloaded Andrew Mayne's Angel Killer.) 

New Author Breakfast. Top row: Lisa Alber, Kathy Aarons, Annette Dashofy.
Bottom row: Tracy Weber, Ray Daniel, Sybil Johnson.

Appearing on the Locked Room Mysteries panel was a treat both because of the line-up (Jeffery Deaver's The Vanished Man is absolutely brilliant, and Marv Lachman's Heirs of Anthony Boucher makes him the resident Bouchercon historian) and because the subject is dear to my heart. I've always thought I was rather old-fashioned because I love locked room "impossible crime" stories that were most popular during the Golden Age of detective fiction between the two world wars, but I learned that I'm not alone! The audience was packed with well over 100 people of all ages. (I'll do a separate post on what we talked about, because otherwise I'd go on forever.)

On the Locked Room Mysteries panel with Marv Lachman, Janet Dawson,
Bill Gottfried (our moderator), Jeffery Deaver, and Laurie King.

With Jeffery Deaver, who in addition to writing brilliant books is the nicest guy.

Mystery conventions often raise money for local literacy charities through a silent auction and a live auction. Dozens of authors contributed to the auctions that raised money for the Long Beach Public Library Foundation and WriteGirl. Camille Minichino donated this hand-made miniature (check out all the miniature mystery novels!). I donated a Pirate Vishnu-themed treasure chest filled with San Francisco chocolates and a signed hardcover edition of the book.

Top: Camille Minichino's mystery miniature.
Bottom: my Pirate Vishnu treasure chest.

Conventions are always a combination of meeting new friends and catching up with old ones I don't see often enough. Diane Vallere and Kendel Lynn have been two of my stalwart writer pals since early in this journey. Sadly they don't live locally, but happily we all love attending mystery cons.

With Diane Vallere and Kendel Lynn. 

And then there are some people who feel like old friends as soon as you meet them. Steve Steinbock, who writes a regular column for Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, is one of those people.

With Steve Steinbock.

Since there are far too many great books and far too little time, of the ways I decide which classic mysteries to read is by listening to Les Blatt's Classic Mysteries Podcasts, so it was nice to catch up with him in person.

With Les Blatt, who runs the excellent Classic Mysteries website. 

The Sisters in Crime breakfast was extra special this year because it included the presentation of the Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award to Maria Kelson. I served on the committee that read through many outstanding applications. Maria's rose to the top, and I can't wait to see her book in print.

Eleanor Taylor Bland grant-winner Maria Kelson.

With Frankie Bailey and grant-winner Maria Kelson.

Laura DiSilverio handing over the Sisters in Crime presidency to Catriona McPherson.

I didn't remember to take photos at the Bouchercon Anthology signing, but here's the book. My locked room mystery story "The Haunted Room" appears in the anthology. (If you subscribe to my email newsletter, you may recognize the story from its original incarnation as a Halloween 2013 exclusive gift to newsletter subscribers. The new story is even better thanks to Dana Cameron's editorial guidance.)

The Bouchercon anthology, Murder at the Beach.

UPDATE: Thanks to Tanis Mallow and Rob Brunet, I have these photos from the anthology signing!

The Anthony Awards, named for Anthony Boucher, were given out at Bouchercon at a celebratory event on the last evening of the convention. The lovely Catriona McPherson won an Anthony for As She Left It.

Catriona McPherson with her Anthony Award
and our shared editor Terri Bischoff.

On the last morning of the convention, while not attending panels I camped out in the lobby in hopes of catching up with people I hadn't yet seen over the long weekend. It worked! Though I didn't manage to see everyone on my list (with over 1,600 people in attendance that would have been tough), in addition to two scheduled meetings I ran into several more people I hadn't seen all weekend. I'm glad I kept my own Bouchercon tips in mind, even if it was on the last day! Thanks to chair Ingrid Willis and all the volunteers for a great convention.

View from the Long Beach Hyatt.

Now that I'm home, I'm incredibly inspired to finish writing my latest mystery. If only I could pull myself away from all of these great new books.... Wish me luck. I'm going to need it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Book Deadlines & Bouchercon

Yesterday I gave a draft of my latest novel to my critique readers (woo-hoo!), and tomorrow I head to Bouchercon to hang out with mystery readers and writers. I already shared my 5 Tips for Getting the Most out of Bouchercon, so I'm just popping in to share my schedule.

Surrounded by notes of all kinds as I wrapped up a draft.

Here's what I'm up to at the convention: 
  • Thursday, Nov 13 at 8:30am: “Author Speed Dating” breakfast, table hopping to chat with readers.
  • Thursday, Nov 13 at 1pm: Panel & Signing, Murder in a Locked Room, along with Bill Gottfried (Moderating), Janet Dawson, Jeffery Deaver, Marvin Lackman, and Laurie King.
  • Friday, Nov 14 at 11am: Signing Advance Reader Copies of The Accidental Alchemist at the Midnight Ink table.
  • Saturday, Nov 15 at 12:30pm: Bouchercon Anthology Book Launch & Signing.
Bouchercon, the World Mystery Convention.

My short story “The Haunted Room” appears in the Bouchercon mystery anthology, released this month.

The Bouchercon 2014 short story anthology.
 Now I'm off to finish packing!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Tea with Amelia Peabody: A Tribute to Elizabeth Peters

I'm a huge fan of Elizabeth Peters, so I was incredibly happy to see that the Northern California Chapter of the American Research Center in Egypt was planning an event celebrating Elizabeth Peters and her indomitable heroine Amelia Peabody, the Victorian era Egyptologist in 19 of Peters' mystery novels.

A few dozen fans and scholars gathered on Sunday afternoon for a lovely tea, similar to what Amelia would have been served at Shepheard's Hotel in Cairo. Following the tea service, several scholars gave short lectures on the real-life stories behind the books. In addition, there was a costume contest for the guests who dressed as characters from the books (I did not, but about half of the guests did!).

"Gummy Mummy"

Slide from one of the lectures,
speculating about the real life model for the character Emerson.

A look at the setting of Crocodile on the Sandbank,
Amelia Peabody Book 1. 

More fun with background from the books. 

Guests in costume, with the resident Mummy.