Welcome author Gigi Pandian, with a #giveaway

Friend of the Wickeds, Gigi Pandian, is here with us today to celebrate the release of her sixth Accidental Alchemist novel, The Alchemist of Riddle and Ruin. This is Gigi’s fourth visit to the blog, just like Traci Wilton last week. We really need to get going on those Five-Timers jackets! Be sure to comment below to be entered to win her giveaway.

Here’s the blurb

A riddle, a game, and a clue in the garden.

When Zoe Faust sees the ghost of a murdered young woman, is it really a spirit—or a flesh and blood woman who stopped aging because she’s a fellow alchemist?

Sixteen years ago, high school student Ridley Price discovered a secret she planned to reveal through a party game—but someone killed her first. The baffling crime was never solved. Zoe’s friend Heather has always wondered: which of the seven guests at the party killed Ridley? When the newly-appeared ghost turns dangerous, threatening people they love, Zoe teams up with her gargoyle roommate Dorian to unmask the supposed specter.

Take it away, Gigi!

When a sidekick unexpectedly takes over

My sixth Accidental Alchemist novel, The Alchemist of Riddle and Ruin, came out on August 30. When I began writing this culinary & paranormal cozy mystery series, the main character in the book was centuries-old alchemist Zoe Faust. She’s been running from her past, and is finally ready to slow down and put down some roots in Portland, Oregon. But trouble follows her to her new home—namely a living, breathing gargoyle she finds hiding in her moving crates.

From that first book, I’ve adored my supporting cast, especially Dorian Robert-Houdin, the humorous gargoyle who was once stone before being accidentally brought to life through alchemy—but I never imagined Dorian taking over the series as much as he did!

Dorian is a French chef and a food snob who thinks very highly of his abilities as a cook and as an amateur sleuth. He thinks he’s a natural fit for a detective, since as a stone gargoyle he literally has “little grey cells” like Agatha Christie’s Poirot.

Though I didn’t expect it, Dorian came to life so vividly that he stole pretty much every scene he appeared in. Now, six books and one novella into the series, Dorian shares the leading role with Zoe—and some readers are convinced he’s the main character!

I’m not complaining. Well, maybe I’m complaining—but for a different reason. You see, I’m an author who loves to outline the basic plots of my novels before I dive into writing. But Dorian absolutely refuses to stick to an outline! He makes me go in a completely different direction than I intended. I’ve decided to go with it. Because it turns out he’s right—the books are better when I listen to my characters. The Alchemist of Riddle and Ruin was so much fun to write—in spite of the fact that the mystery veered in directions I never saw coming, thanks to a little gargoyle chef.

Readers: Are your favorite characters in the books you love always the main character, or do you fall in love with sidekicks (or villains, or anyone else)? One commenter will win an ebook of any of the 7 books in my Accidental Alchemist mystery series—winner’s choice! (So far there are 6 novels and 1 novella.)


Gigi Pandian

GIGI PANDIAN is a USA Today bestselling and multiple-award-winning author, breast cancer survivor, and accidental almost-vegan. She writes the Secret Staircase mysteries, Accidental Alchemist mysteries, Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt mysteries, and locked-room mystery short stories. Gigi has won Agatha, Anthony, Lefty, and Derringer awards, and was a finalist for the Edgar Award. She lives in Northern California with her husband and a gargoyle who watches over the backyard garden. Learn more and sign up for her email newsletter (which includes a free short story and free mini cookbook) at www.gigipandian.com.

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41 Thoughts

  1. Hello! If I’m reading a series, the main character is the one who brings me back. I have read books though, when the sidekick wins my heart – either through comedy, scene stealing lines, or an overall sense of… “will you please hang out with me!”

  2. Welcome back, Gigi. Good for Dorian for asserting himself! I love that character. I definitely fall in love with sidekicks, including the ones I write.

    1. Thanks, Edith. That’s one of the things I love about books, that I can fall in love with characters both who I’m reading about and who I’m creating as I write.

  3. A gargoyle come to life? Boy, he must have some interesting stories to tell!! Yes, I love a good sidekick in a book, whether it’s a friend, relative or animal.

  4. Often it is the sidekicks that add great dimension to a story. Some you love because of their nature and some you “love” to hate for the same reason. Although it’s grand to love the main character, we can often see the sidekicks branching off to their own story and willingly follow them.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  5. GIGI: I love that Dorian refused to stick to your outline! I enjoy seeing both Zoe and Dorian in your books, and the food that Dorian cooks makes my mouth water as I am reading. And yes, there are other mystery series I love reading where the original sidekick has become so popular that they get the lead role in subsequent books. One non-cozy example is Robert Crais’ Joe Pike (in the Elvis Cole books).

  6. I often enjoy the books where the mc has a sidekick that steals the show. Most of my faves have been an animal sidekick, not so coincidentally.

  7. I always fall in love with both the main and side characters, and sometimes a villain.

  8. Congratulations on your new book. Quite a few times I have started to favor one of the secondary characters in a series. Sometimes they are actually the heart and soul of the stories. They inspire the main character in many cases.
    Even if they aren’t my favorite I appreciate them for how important they are. Each character is important to a storyline. Without even one the story would be ruined. Kind of like if you found where all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle went and put them together only to find that one piece was missing. The picture isn’t complete. All the characters are important.

    1. (It looks like my first attempt at this reply didn’t go through, but this might be a duplicate!)

      Thanks, Laurie! Yes, a jigsaw puzzle is exactly right.

  9. I do love supporting characters, sometimes as much as the main character – especially Dorian! I also love the Flamels, who have become important characters. Don’t enter me for the giveaway, since I’ve read them all & want someone else to discover this wonderful series.

  10. Ooh a new Alchemist book! Somehow I missed this when it came out last month and I’m delighted to hear about it now. This is my favorite of your series. (I really enjoyed the Secret Staircase mystery too though and hope you’ll write more about those characters as well.)

    1. So many books to keep up with! I’m quite behind myself. I’m delighted you’re enjoying the new series—Book 2 (The Raven Thief) comes out in March 2023, and I’m at work on both the next Alchemist and the next Secret Staircase.

  11. I do love Dorian. And I have run in to some series lately where, while I like the main character, it’s the sidekick(s) who make the story for me.

  12. Oh my, does this ever sound like a good read. Yes, I sometimes like a supporting character more than the main one. Usually it is an old person with a lot of spunk.

    1. Sidekick characters are allowed to have more spunk and other attributes that we often ding main characters for. So yes, totally agreed they’re such fun.

  13. I love so many of the main characters and that along with good writing is what brings me back. But some of the sidekicks are fabulous in most of the books I read. I love Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum, but Lula and Grandma Mazur keep me coming back to read more and of course Morelli and Ranger. Wish I had those guys in my life in my youth. I so often like a character that the main character is not interested in romantically, but that I feel would be a better match than who she is with. The other characters are what makes the plot move along. Cate Conte’s books are really great with Maddie, but I love Grandpa, Ethan and of course JJ.

  14. Congratulations on your book!🥰
    I have to like the main character. I also love to love the other characters.

  15. Thank you for offering one of your books as a giveaway and congrats on your newest release! I have yet to meet a cozy main character that I didn’t like, but sometimes I do find that the sidekick or the cozy and furry companion steals the show.

  16. Great authors make ALL of their characters memorable, so it is hard to choose favorites, especially when I read about a book a day. Easier to decide whether an author is worth my time, although even there I will allow them more than one book. My current book was a slog for the first third, but I HOPE it improves. YOURS sounds like it will be a delight from start to finish.

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