Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Virtual Book Tour: Zither! by Jeffrey Hanlon #blogtour #humor #mystery #interview #rabtbooktours @ZitherStudios @RABTBookTours




Date Published: April 20th, 2021

Publisher: Zither Studios

A nutty religious cult abducts a herd of prime gazebos (huh?) and it’s up to bumbling P.I. Mars Candiotti to rescue them. Mars, aspiring author, chronicles his quest in Jeffrey Hanlon's comic mystery Zither

 Guided by his magically prescient IHOP waitress, Mars strives to mitigate the shocking global consequences of the gazebo heist, even though he has no idea what the word mitigate means. Mars has five Important clues with which to solve his confounding mystery: Butterscotch, John Travolta, Trombones Venetian Blinds, and Wind Chimes. 

 As Zither swallows its own tale, Mars finds it increasingly tricky to distinguish between real people and his rambunctious fictional characters. Zither becomes the romper room where his reality meets fantasy - and get frisky with each other. 

 Using his (odd) clues, Mars’ international odyssey leads to an explosive conclusion in Panama. TVs around the world tune in to watch live coverage of “Carnage in the Canal”. 

 Amid the lunatic havoc that is Zither there is (of course!) an epic love story as Mars meets Marian, the brainy librarian he had dreamed of. Marian says his books are "slapstick existentialism with subjective reality couched in parable". (This is news to Mars). But is Marian real? 

 Is any of it real?

"Hanlon’s humor shines bright and will leave fans of such madness wanting more." Publishers Weekly 

 "This zany, rollicking mystery adventure is as compelling as it is hilarious." Independent Book Review 

 Nominated for the prestigious Audie Award, Best Fiction 2021


What is the hardest part of writing your books?



I’m sure you’ve heard the old saw about writing – just stare at the blank page until blood seeps out of your forehead. But with Zither there was no blood. It was easy. It was fun, unlike the other book I’d been trying to write.


I’d been struggling with my Great American Novel for ages. There were no shortage of problems with the story. But one problem in particular was persistent: quirky characters kept invading my novel, and there simply was no place for these characters in my dark and brooding book.  


I had an obsessive addiction to these peculiar characters. So I decided to purge my addiction by writing something quirky. This made no more sense than an alcoholic trying to purge his alcohol addiction by drinking a fifth of Wild Turkey. But I did it anyway.


So . . . one morning with a blank mind staring at a blank screen I started typing


And typing.

And typing.

And typing.


In two hours I’d written more than I’d been writing in a week. And here’s where it gets a bit mysterious, even mystical: After those two hours, I knew everything about the story. And I mean everything. The setting. The characters and their development. The entire plot. The ending. The ‘voice’. And the various types of quirky humor I would employ.


And I had not the slightest idea where all that came from.


From there I wrote the entire novel in three weeks.



Is Zither available as an audiobook?


Yes! And it’s even more fun than the book, if such a thing is possible. Full cast dramatization, music, the works. (Promotional price of $16.99 $3.49 for a limited time at Apple Books, and Chirp




What songs are most played on your Ipod?


Sax jazz, Calypso



Do you have critique partners or beta readers?





What book are you reading now?


Re-reading The Magus, by John Fowles. Probably my favorite book. In it, Fowles makes a game of what is real and what is artifice, of perception and of identity. In that way there are similarities to ‘Zither’.




How did you start your writing career?


At age of about 9 or 10 I wrote my first book, bound and everything. It was illustrated. The title was ‘Pond Scum’. It was about . . . Pond Scum.



Tell us about your next release.


‘The Red Umbrella’: An anthology of short stories, ranging from humorous to poignant, with a touch of the mystical. Release date is around Christmas. If you’d like an ARC of the book or audiobook go to and click ‘Contact’.

About the Author

I was born in a Southern California beach town. 

My family moved to Northwest Oregon when I was 7. Or maybe when I was 8. 

Had we stayed in the Beach Boys town, and knowing myself as I do now, I suspect I would have grown long hair, started a rock band, and been heavily into drugs. The rock band would probably have been pretty good. The rest of it, not so much. I’d likely have joined the ranks of those like Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin. 

We moved to a mountaintop. The last five miles to get there were gravel. The final two miles were steep and to the end of the road. 

That’s where we lived: the end of the road, 22 miles to the nearest town. 

Our closest neighbor, about a mile down the road, was a hermit who lived in a shack. He had a goat. About once a month the goat would visit us. Then the hermit would show up to retrieve his goat. I think the goat liked us better than the hermit, which is why the goat kept showing up. Goats are funny animals. I think they aspire to be house pets. 

And speaking of animals, we had cats. Lots and lots of cats. Because we were remote and at the end of the road, unkind people – and ‘unkind’ is the kindest description I can use here – would dump their unwanted cats on or near our property. The cats would find our house. We gave them Fancy Feast and our love, and in turn they loved us. 

My childhood friends didn’t visit too often. That was at least partly because when they did show up my father would say something like this: “Great! We have a job that could use an extra hand. Won’t take more than five minutes.” Well, that five minutes usually turned into an hour or two – volunteer labor! – and that friend would seldom visit again. 

So my favorite childhood playmate was a 2000 pound Hereford bull, a big boy with horns spanning three feet. I’d go out in the pasture and the bull would strike a pose not unlike what you’ve seen in the movies where the bull was ready to charge, head down, eyeing me. But he wasn’t going to charge me. He just wanted his forehead scratched. And so I would scratch his forehead. He liked that, shaking his head every so often to show his approval. Then we’d elevate to a game that the bull might have called ‘Let’s see how far we can toss this little kid!’ and I’d place my right hip against his massive head and he’d toss me into the air like a sack of flour. Over and over, farther and farther, higher and higher. I could have done that for hours – I can fly! – but after a few tosses the bull would grow bored with the game and wander off. Probably to chase some cute heifers. 

The nearest library was 30 miles away, and we ventured there often. It was a majestic old building, and the Grand Room had books on all four walls with reading chairs in the center. But that was not where I wanted to be. I figured all those books were popular books or books I was supposed to read. I wanted something different, so I would enter the room with a small sign that said ‘Stacks’. It was row after narrow row after row of books, floor to ceiling, dimly lit, dusty. It was like entering a cave. Filled with treasures! 

It was in those Stacks that I discovered the likes of Kerouac and Heller and Huxley and Fowles and Steinbeck and Ellison and Bradbury and Hemingway and many many others. 

As Stephen King said, “Books are a uniquely portable magic.” 

And those, each in their own way, was the inspiration for the first book I wrote at the age of eight or nine: ‘Pond Scum’. 

It was illustrated.

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