Armchair Adventures: Traveling to France from a Cozy Living Room in California by Gigi Pandian

Here’s a teaser for Gigi’s new Accidental Alchemist novella: THE LOST GARGOYLE OF PARIS

Alchemy and an art heist in Paris are on the menu in the new Accidental Alchemist novella from USA Today bestselling and Agatha Award winning author Gigi Pandian.

Alchemist Zoe Faust and her impish gargoyle sidekick Dorian Robert-Houdin travel to Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris to investigate a mysterious discovery found in the wreckage of the tragic fire: a long-lost gargoyle illustration drawn by Victor Hugo himself.

When the work of art is stolen under impossible circumstances, Dorian must use his “little gray cells”—not to mention his culinary skills—to solve the crime and discover the true origins of where he came from.

Includes delicious vegan recipes!

Gigi: I’ve always been an armchair traveler. I grew up devouring books by Elizabeth Peters, Aaron Elkins, Agatha Christie, and many more authors with mysteries set abroad, and was lucky to begin traveling abroad with my parents on their academic research trips from a young age. Both forms of travel stayed with me into my adult life. However, I didn’t anticipate just how important armchair travel would become this spring!

As a book-lover, a silver lining of sheltering in place is that I can still travel through books. I can happily spend the evening curled up on my cozy couch, in the shadow of my overflowing bookshelves. I’m finding so much comfort in books—and I hope you are as well.

Travel features in both cozy mystery series I write, and France is the country that’s been featured in both series. I first visited France in person when I was a teenager. I fell in love with Paris, especially the old-world mysteries it held.

The gargoyles of Notre Dame captured my imagination, so it was no surprise that when I became a novelist decades later, I created paranormal cozy series featuring a living gargoyle who was once carved in stone for Notre Dame Cathedral—before being accidentally brought to life through alchemy.

In the spring of 2019, I watched in horror from afar as the cathedral burned. Paris and Notre Dame are central to the personal histories of both centuries-old alchemist Zoe Faust and her impish gargoyle sidekick Dorian Robert-Houdin. Because I wanted to visit again at least in spirit, I began writing a locked-room mystery short story set in Paris after the fire.

A funny thing happened. The cathedral’s rich history demanded more space on the page (as did Dorian the gargoyle!), so my short story grew into a novella. Yes, one thing I’ve learned over the years is that I need to listen to my characters!

I’d hoped to return to Paris this spring, but it wasn’t in the cards. Luckily I’ve got bookshelves filled with amazing books. So this spring, I’m not leaving home or going much farther than this cozy corner of my living room, but I’m traveling all around the world.

Readers: Where are you going on your armchair travels this spring? Please share in the comments!

p.s. I’ve just learned that through April 30, 2020, the eBook of my debut novel Artifact is on sale for only 99¢! In the adventure cozy, you can travel with historian Jaya Jones to the highlands of Scotland.

Bio: Gigi Pandian is a USA Today bestselling and Agatha Award winning mystery author, breast cancer survivor, and accidental almost-vegan. The child of anthropologists from New Mexico and the southern tip of India, she spent her childhood traveling around the world on their research trips, and now lives in California with her husband and a gargoyle who watches over the garden. Gigi writes the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt mysteries, Accidental Alchemist mysteries, and locked-room mystery short stories.

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29 Thoughts

  1. Gigi, I am so happy that I can read a new Zoe and Dorian novella, and that it is set in Paris. Like you, I was devastated when I saw Notre Dame on fire. I remember visiting Paris and seeing those gargoyles in person.

    I am not reading at my normal pace this month due to illness (yes I am sick with COVID-19 but slowly recovering). One book that I am looking forward to eventually read is set in 1926 Egypt |(Murder at the Mena House by Erica Ruth Neubauer).

  2. Welcome back to the blog, Gigi! Your novella is waiting on my kindle.

    During this quarantine time, I’ve been catching up on Ann Cleeves’ Shetland series – the books – so I’ve been hanging around the northern islands. And it’s been amazing.

  3. I love the idea of a talking gargoyle. 🙂

    Where have I gone? I went to Florence with Ellie Stone, spent some time in Millers Kill with Russ and Clare (I’ll be going back), traveled the world with Dirk Pitt, gone to Chicago via Lori Rader-Day, back in time to Boston of the 70s, and England during WWI. I’m sure I’ll take a few more armchair trips before this is all over.

  4. Great read from Gigi. You can explore similar gargoyles closer to home on the Princeton University campus (when traveling is permitted again)

  5. I love the inspiration for your series, Gigi! Most of the travel I do is through books, even when we’re actually allowed to travel. At the moment I’m armchair-traveling to Indonesia. Who knows where I’ll go next!

    1. I’ve visited more countries in fiction than in the real world, and they’re both great ways to travel!

      And now you’ve got me curious what novel it is set in Indonesia.

  6. I’ve been spending time in Egypt while reading Murder in the Mena House. I was lucky enough to visit Notre Dame seven years ago. What an amazing place. Congratulations on the novella!

    1. Thanks, Sherry! I have that book on my TBR pile, and looking at it makes me want to reread my beloved Elizabeth Peters novels as well!

  7. Gigi, I’m glad I found your series. Paris is one of my favorite cities and I have a little gargoyle that sits on my desk. I love the premise of The Lost Gargoyle of Paris.

    1. Thanks, Ang. I love that you have a little gargoyle on your desk. Paris is such a special place, and I look forward to going back someday.

  8. I love gargoyles and a talking one is even better! I’ve been traveling the world and will continue to do so in the coming months. Learning how to read has got to be the best skill ever.

    1. When I read a great book, I imagine it so vividly that I often can’t remember if I read something in a book or saw it as a movie.

  9. Congrats on the novella.

    I’ve been in Egypt in the 1920’s, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and a zoo/amusement park in the Texas Hill Country in the last few weeks to name but a few.

  10. Hi Gigi,

    I’m delighted that there’s a new Accidental Alchemist mystery to read. And having it set in Paris, without a doubt my favorite city in the world. I have many wonderful memories of trips to France, and remain hopeful that I have more such memories to be made. And, of course, spending time in Dorian’s company is always a delight!

    During these stay-at-home days, I’ve been traveling across the Universe with John Scalzi. I read Scalzi’s Hugo-winning novel, Redshirts a few weeks ago when Tor Publishers offered it as a free download (I like Free these days) and fell in love with his writing. I then read the first two novels in his Interdependency series (and am eagerly waiting for publication of the final one next week) and absolutely loved them. While waiting for that third novel, I read his collection of pieces from his blog, A Very Scalzi Christmas, and was alternately rolling on the floor laughing and crying at the conclusion of one of the very touching stories included. Then, I started reading his Old Man’s War series. Throughout all of this I’ve been traveling across many hundreds of light years and touring planets and exploring civilizations that exist only in Scalzi’s imagination.

    If any of you are willing to venture into a different genre, you couldn’t do much better than the works of John Scalzi. One advisory, if you are bothered by strong language, then, alas, Scalzi is probably not for you. Otherwise, highly recommended.

    For those of you celebrating Easter this weekend, best wishes for that celebration. Likewise to those about to celebrate Ramadan. And for those of us celebrating Passover, if Elijah shows up at your door, make sure he practices social distancing!

    Best wishes to everyone!

  11. Thanks for visiting with the Wickeds on the blog today, Gigi! I have been visiting Ghana in Death by His Grace by Kwei Quartey. Next up is a re-read set in England by Agatha Christie, The Sittaford Mystery. I was reminded of it on an episode of the delightful podcast, Shedunnit and was inspired to dive into it once more!

    1. Hi Jessie! Nice book choices. I thought I’d be listening to more podcasts while home, but since I’m reading so much I’m not listening to as many as I thought I’d be.

    1. Thanks, Julie! Elizabeth Peters is always a joy in difficult times. So many great new books to read, but every so often I dip into my EP stash.

  12. Thanks to everyone who stopped by on Friday, and big thanks to Barb for having me back to the blog for a visit.

    Sending good wishes to everyone. May you stay safe and healthy — and enjoy plenty of good books!

  13. Looking forward to your Paris-after-the-fire story, Gigi! — I have one coming out in EQMM, too: GMTA! – and hope to see you in Sac’to this fall!

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