Newly Agatha-nominated Gigi Pandian celebrates her PIRATE VISHNU book release by giving valuable advice to debut authors, chatting with us about her overseas NaNoWriMo experiences (and making us completely jealous with pictures of her travels!)
Jaya Jones is quickly becoming everyone’s favorite treasure hunter! And congratulations on your recent Agatha nomination for Best Short Story, what an accomplishment. How did you celebrate?
Thank you! It’s especially exciting to have this particular story, “The Hindi Houdini,” nominated, because it features Sanjay from the Jaya Jones series – making it a double Jaya Jones celebration this week!
I haven’t yet had a chance to celebrate properly. The day I received the phone call about the Agatha nomination, I was in the throes of finishing a book that was due that week. Even before the call came in, it was already a surreal day. I was so close to finishing the novel that I was surrounded by notebooks full of scribbled notes, printouts of critique reader notes, dog-eared research books, and empty coffee mugs. My husband and I toasted that night, and I’m looking forward to celebrating with readers at upcoming book events.
With your second book officially released, what advice can you give to debut authors? And what makes this release different from the first?
My biggest piece of advice to debut authors is to remember to have fun. Publishing is a crazy business, and it’s not worth it to worry about things that are beyond your control. You have control over writing a great book, so once you’ve poured your heart and soul into your debut novel, definitely take time to sit back and enjoy what you’ve accomplished. (And then get back to work on the next book!)
The biggest difference between the first and second book releases is that now I have readers who are actively looking forward to reading the new book. It’s a lot of fun to hear from readers.
We loved looking at all of your NaNoWriMo pictures from your trip abroad! Is PIRATE VISHNU your NaNoWriMo novel?
Both ARTIFACT and PIRATE VISHNU are NaNoWriMo novels. Before I had a publishing contract and “real” deadlines to meet, National Novel Writing Month was the way for me to learn to write to a deadline. If it hadn’t been for that challenge, I would never have completed a novel.
It’s tempting to revise as you go along, but when you’re a beginning writer, it’s far too easy to get stuck in the middle of a novel and never reach the end. No matter how bad your first draft is, once it’s complete, you can go back and revise it. It’s a system I love so much that I continue to write new novels with NaNoWiMo.
Part of PIRATE VISHNU takes place in India, and I understand you traveled there before writing it. Did the trip change your original story idea?
My dad is from India, and I’ve traveled there several times. It was on my most recent trip in 2010 that I came up with a key plot twist in PIRATE VISHNU. I had already written a rough draft of the book, but it was lacking the twists and turns of ARTIFACT. When my dad and I were traveling up the western coast of Kerala, from the southern tip of India to Fort Kochi, the plot fell into place.
What cool tidbits from your overseas trip didn’t get a mention in the novel?
Please tell us about your current projects. Are there more Jaya Jones adventures in the future?
Right now I’m working on the next book in the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery Series. I’m still calling it “Jaya Book 3” because it doesn’t yet have a title – if anyone out there has any great ideas, please let me know! The story takes Jaya and Lane from San Francisco to Paris to Mont St. Michel and involves an art heist, the French Revolution, and, of course, a treasure hunt!
I’m also writing a new mystery series, beginning with THE ACCIDENTAL ALCHEMIST, about a female alchemist and her impish gargoyle sidekick who was accidentally brought to life by a French stage magician. Like the Jaya Jones books, this new series involves a lot of fascinating true history and a sense of adventure.
I’m discovering that writing two different series is helping me keep my ideas fresh. My characters have a way of taking on lives of their own, and my new writing schedule gives them time to figure out what their next adventures will be.