HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Yay, Gigi! We have all loved Gigi Pandian (and her intrepid Jaya Jones) from from moment one. But today at Jungle Red we are popping the champagne corks for her new book deal with Midnight Ink! (THE ACCIDENTAL ALCHEMIST is the first book in a new series about a centuries-old alchemist and her impish gargoyle sidekick who was accidentally brought to life by a French stage magician.
(It sounds like a fabulous idea. I NEVER could have thought of it! And I'm constantly astonished by how our brains work.)
Anyway--Gigi's brain started working early on, and she has the wonderful (and adorable) photos to prove it. Do our books begin in out childhooD? Well, Gigi says yes.
And--a prize at the end for a lucky commenter!
Turning Childhood Summer Adventures Into Mysteries
My mom, a cultural anthropology professor, needed to spend the summer doing research in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. She also wanted to visit old friends she'd known since her days as a graduate student, so she took me along.
I'm an only child, so at ten years old I was already good at entertaining myself. And BOY was there a lot to do in Scotland! I'd already traveled across the United States several times, as my parents held appointments at different universities, but Scotland was the first foreign country I visited.
For a kid growing up in a suburb of Los Angeles, Scotland was a magical place. Bagpipers were more exciting than my mom and her acoustic guitar; castle ruins were much more fun to climb on than the playground jungle gym; and when I heard the legend of the Loch Ness Monster? It was like an episode of Scooby Doo had come true.
The trip gave me the desire to travel – and to write – early in life. Because how could such adventures not make their way into stories? Back home, I created a comic strip about the adventures of Minnesota Smith, a female Indiana Jones. (Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom had recently come out.)
My next childhood trip abroad was to India, to visit family on my father’s side. It was WAY too hot to think about outdoor adventures, but the country of vibrant colors, spicy food, and friendly people left a lasting impression, and I’ve returned multiple times.
A few years after my first trip abroad, I got to spend another summer in Europe with my mom. This time, I was inspired to write a script based on my favorite movie, The Goonies, which I called The Goonies Go To Europe. While in England, Scotland, and France that summer, I filmed my story on a hand-held home movie camera. (And no, you are never going to see that video I edited on my VCR – my attempt at a mystery plot didn’t hold together at all!)
But it took decades before my stories were any good. Two decades after my first trip inspired me, I wrote a draft of ARTIFACT, the first in the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery Series, out this month from Henery Press (http://henerypress.com/books-humorous-mystery-series-book/artifact/).
In ARTIFACT, Indian-American historian Jaya Jones travels from San Francisco to the British Library in London to an archaeological dig in the Highlands of Scotland, as she pieces together the secrets of a lost Indian treasure hidden in a Scottish legend from the days of the British Raj.
I bet you can guess where I came up with the idea J
Do you have any chidhood adventures that turned into fiction?
HANK: And a copy of ARTIFACT to a lucky commenter!
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 in favor of art school. But adventurous academic characters wouldn’t stay out of her head. Thus was born the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt mystery series. Find Gigi online at www.gigipandian.com.
Sign up for Gigi’s email newsletter to receive a free, exclusive short story in the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery Series this fall: http://gigipandian.com/newsletter/.