Fool's Gold

Jaya Jones and The Hindi Houdini in Edinburgh

Last week I shared a recap and photos from my writing retreat in Edinburgh, where one of the highlights was revisiting the Edinburgh setting of "Fool's Gold," my novella prequel to Artifact. 

Jaya and Sanjay solve a mystery at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival that involves Scotland's famous Lewis Chessmen.

The novella was published in 2012 in Other People's Baggage, and this May was the first time I'd been back to Scotland since the mystery came out! So of course I had to stop by both the Edinburgh Fringe Festival office and the National Museum of Scotland where several of the chessmen are on display.

My Lewis Chessmen replicas, next to my book in which they appear.

Why are the Lewis Chessmen so intriguing? In addition to their origins remaining a mystery, the 12th century pieces themselves have so much personality, as can be seen in my photos below.

The Berserker biting is shield is one of my favorites!

When I was a kid spending the summer in Scotland with my mom while she did academic research, I got to attend the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the world's largest arts festival (also purportedly the world's largest street festival) that takes place each August.

Several years after I attended the festival, I performed in a theatrical production in Edinburgh during my junior year abroad. Since I doubted I'd ever again perform in Edinburgh, when I became a writer it occurred to me that I could send my characters there!

So I combined the Lewis Chessmen with the Ed Fringe Festival in the locked-room mystery novella 

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Fool's Gold

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All historian Jaya Jones wants is a relaxing vacation in Scotland before starting her first year teaching college. But when a world-famous chess set is stolen from a locked room during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Jaya and her magician best friend, The Hindi Houdini, must outwit actresses and alchemists to solve the baffling crime.

The novella is connected to Diane Vallere's "Midnight Ice" and Kendel Lynn's "Switch Back." Four years ago, Diane, Kendel, and I had the idea of collaborating on a project. The result was 

Other People's Baggage,

 a collection of interconnected mystery novellas featuring our mystery series characters. The premise: 

These are the stories of what happened after three women with a knack for solving mysteries each grabbed the wrong bag.

We're still friends after collaborating, so either we did something right, or nothing can tear us apart! And this year, the third books in each of our series came out.

OTHER PEOPLE’S BAGGAGE: 

“Midnight Ice” by Diane Vallere (A Mad for Mod Mystery Novella, the prequel to PILLOW STALK). The third Mad for Mod Mystery starring Madison Night, WITH VICS YOU GET EGGROLL, came out April 14, 2015.

“Switch Back” by Kendel Lynn (An Elliott Lisbon Mystery Novella, the prequel to BOARD STIFF). The third Elliott Lisbon mystery, SWAN DIVE, came out March 17, 2015.

“Fool’s Gold” by Gigi Pandian (A Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery Novella, the prequel to ARTIFACT). The third Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery, QUICKSAND, came out March 10, 2015.

Kendel Lynn, Diane Vallere, and Gigi Pandian in 2012 at Mystery Ink.

This weekend

I get to see my 

Other People's Baggage

 collaborators Diane and Kendel at the 

California Crime Writers Conference

 June 6-7, 2015!

The Next Big Thing

I've been tagged by mystery author Diane Vallere to answer the questions in this blog hop. Diane is one of the co-authors of my new project discussed below. 

Q: What's is the working title of your book?
A: Other People's Baggage, a collection of three interrelated mystery novellas that comes out December 3, 2012. My novella is Fool's Gold: A Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Novella. It's a prequel to Artifact.

Q: Where did the idea come from for this book?
A: Mystery writers Diane Vallere, Kendel Lynn, and I had read each other's works-in-progress. Though our mysteries were quite different, we thought our protagonists shared a certain something. We thought they'd get along great in fiction, and that readers who liked one of our heroines would like the other two. So why not bring them together?

Q: What genre does your book fall under?
A. Mystery.

Q: How long did it take to write the first draft?
A: The very first draft took about a month, but the revisions took much longer! I'm great at writing quickly to get the ideas of a story down on paper, but turning those ideas into something good is what takes more time. Since Fool's Gold is a novella, it's about 25,000 words, compared to the 5,000 words of my previous short stories and the 75,000 words of my novels. I kept a notebook of details for the novella just like I do for my novels, since it was more complex to write than a short story.


Sort-of what Jaya looks like?
Q: What actors would you use for a movie rendition of your book?
A: I keep a character bible that has pictures of what I imagine the characters look like. The main characters in Fool's Gold are Jaya Jones and Sanjay Rai. They're hard for me to cast with famous actors because when I watch famous Indian actors it can be hard to imagine them with American accents! Therefore most of the time the pictures I clip aren't of famous actors, but of random people I saw when flipping through a magazine. I've got a picture of model Liya Kebede on Jaya's page, and actor Ali Fazal on Sanjay's page. Neither of them look exactly like I imagine Jaya and Sanjay look like, but they give me a general feel for them.


Q: What is a one sentence synopsis of your book?
A: In Other People's Baggage, this is what happened after a computer glitch mislabeled identical vintage suitcases and three women with a knack for solving mysteries each grabbed the wrong bag.

In my novella Fool's Gold, when a world-famous chess set is stolen from a locked room during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, historian Jaya Jones and her magician best friend must outwit actresses and alchemists to solve the baffling crime.


Q: Will it be self-published or represented by an agency?
A: The collection of novella's is being published by Henery Press.


Q: Who or what inspired you to write this book?
A: I spent a lot of time in Scotland as a kid, and I love Edinburgh and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, a huge performing arts festival that takes place every August. I thought the festival would make a great setting for a mystery. Since Jaya's best friend Sanjay is a stage magician, I had the perfect opportunity to send them to the festival.


Q: What other books would you compare to this story to within your genre?
A: The Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery Series has been compared most frequently to the books of Elizabeth Peters, who writes about adventurous academic women with a bit of romance added to the mysteries.

Q: What else about your book might pique the reader's interest? 
A: Fool's Gold is a locked-room mystery. It's a puzzle plot about a seemingly impossible theft, but Jaya's historical expertise and Sanjay's magician viewpoint make them able to piece together what nobody else can.

I also think readers will enjoy how the three novellas in the Other People's Baggage collection are connected through a running thread but also stand alone. Novellas are a great length when you feel like reading something more in-depth than short story but also want to finish reading a full mystery within one sitting.


Thanks to the five authors who invited me: Diane Vallere, Susan Shea, Pat Morin, Alyx Morgan, and Nancy Adams

Book Launch Parties in Southern California

If you're in the Los Angeles or Orange County areas, I hope you'll join me at one of the book launch parties for Other People's Baggage, the new book coming out December 3rd that features three interconnected mystery novellas—one of which is the new Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery novella, Fool's Gold.


Traveler’s Bookcase
Thursday, November 29
6 – 8 PM
8375 W. 3rd Street
Los Angeles, CA

Mystery Ink Bookstore
Saturday, December 1
3 – 5 PM
8907 Warner Avenue
Huntington Beach, CA

I'll be there with co-authors Diane Vallere and Kendel Lynn. There will be giveaways, airline-themed drinks and snacks, and lots of fun to be had! And here's a teaser about Other People's Baggage: Baggage claim can be terminal. These are the stories of what happened after three women with a knack for solving mysteries each grabbed the wrong bag...

More details about the novellas and the parties can be found on my website.

Hope to see you there!

Announcing the Next Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery: FOOL'S GOLD, Coming December 3

ARCs for Other People's Baggage, which includes Fool's Gold.
This summer has been surreal in several ways: I finished my cancer treatments, released my first mystery novel, have been traveling around doing book events -- and this week I received Advance Reader Copies for the next Jaya Jones mystery being published by Henery Press on December 3!

Fool's Gold: A Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery Novella is being published in the Other People's Baggage collection of three interconnected mystery novellas. It's a prequel to Artifact that I hope will tide everyone over until the next full-length novel comes out in 2013.

All historian Jaya Jones wants is a relaxing vacation in Scotland before starting her first year teaching college. But when a world-famous chess set is stolen from a locked room during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Jaya and her magician best friend, The Hindi Houdini, must outwit actresses and alchemists to solve the baffling crime.

At Malice Domestic 2012 with Kendel Lynn and Diane Vallere.
Working on this new mystery has been so much fun! It's a joint project with two other mystery novelists, Diane Vallere and Kendel Lynn.

We had all read each other's work, and we were struck by the fact that while our mystery series' were quite different, the heroines of our stories had a similar voice. We thought they'd get along famously. What was stopping us from bringing them together?

In Other People's Baggage, a storm reroutes planes and knocks out power, leading to a luggage mix-up as all three of our characters are headed out of town. Jaya, Elliot, and Madison end up with each other's suitcases, and they each solve a mystery with the help of something they find in the mixed-up suitcase...

OTHER PEOPLE'S BAGGAGE: Three Interconnected Mystery Novellas
(Henery Press, December 3, 2012)

These are the stories of what happened after a computer glitch mislabeled identical vintage suitcases and three women with a knack for solving mysteries each grabbed the wrong bag.


MIDNIGHT ICE: A Mad for Mod Mystery Novella by Diane Vallere
When interior decorator Madison Night crosses the country to distance herself from a recent breakup, she learns it’s harder to escape her past than she thought, and diamonds are rarely a girl’s best friend.

SWITCH BACK: An Elliott Lisbon Mystery Novella by Kendel Lynn
Ballantyne Foundation director Elliott Lisbon travels to Texas after inheriting an entire town, but when she learns the donor was murdered, she has to unlock the small town’s big secrets or she’ll never get out alive.

FOOL'S GOLD: A Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery Novella by Gigi Pandian 
When a world-famous chess set is stolen from a locked room during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, historian Jaya Jones and her magician best friend must outwit actresses sand alchemists to solve the baffling crime.



Other People's Baggage ARC with my Lewis Chessmen, which feature into Fool's Gold.



If you're on Goodreads, you can enter to win an advance copy of Other People's Baggage, signed by me, Diane, and Kendel. The giveaway starts today and runs through October 24.