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
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, apple.co bit.ly
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.
‘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 ZitherStudios.com and click ‘Contact’.
About the Author
I was born in a Southern California beach town.