Family Makes for Good Fiction—and a Giveaway

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. Gigi was awarded a Malice Domestic Grant for her debut mystery novel, Artifact, which was released August 28, 2012. To learn more about Gigi’s mysteries, sign up for her newsletter, or connect with her on Facebook and Twitter, visit

Leave a comment below for a chance to

win a copy of Artifact by Gigi Pandian.


My father was born in India in the 1930s, more than a decade before India gained independence from British rule. He was raised in the south of India in the Kingdom of Travancore, a princely state where the prince would be seen touring the region. This sounded terribly exotic to me, a kid growing up in a suburb of Los Angeles in the late 1970s after my dad came to America.

Gigi's father (right) & uncle in Trivandrum, India, in the 1950's

When I was old enough, I traveled to India to visit family, but it wasn’t until the summer after college that I got to really explore the country. Only then was I ready to appreciate the experience, and that’s when I began to learn more about the history of India. Learning about British rule in India, and more specifically about my own family’s experience working for the British, planted the seed in my mind for the mystery novels I would write many years later.

While I was growing up, I also tagged along on research trips with my parents, who are both cultural anthropologists. Those trips included activities such as hunting through a foggy Scottish graveyard for the tombstone of a famous poet — though I’m told that at the time all I wanted to do was find the grave so we could leave the cemetery and go eat lunch! (Yup, I was the one to find the grave.)

Gigi at age 10 with a Scottish bagpiper

When I set out to write a mystery novel, I knew it would somehow involve these experiences: Indian history, Scotland, and adventurous academics.

In Artifact, the first book in the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery Series that came out August 28th, historian Jaya Jones travels from San Francisco to London to the Highlands of Scotland, piecing together the secrets of a lost Indian treasure hidden in a Scottish legend from the days of the British Raj.

For the second book in the series that I’m working on right now, I’m drawing upon more of my family history. Jaya always thought the first of her ancestors to come to the United States had died in the Great San Francisco earthquake of 1906 — until she learns he may have been an infamous Indian Pirate. The pirate part of the story is fiction, but one of my ancestors from the Indian side of my family did die in an epidemic shortly after coming to America in the early 1900s. But what if he didn’t? That’s where a good mystery starts.


You have two chances to enter the drawing for a copy of

Artifact by Gigi Pandian. Leave a comment on the review

of Artifact posted on September 15th and then again

on today’s post. The winning name will be drawn on

the evening of September 17th.