The “Other” Debbie Burke

by Debbie Burke


Debbie Burke is not that unusual a name. But what if there are two Debbie Burkes who are both authors? Hmm.

About a year ago, I googled “Debbie Burke.” As expected, my thrillers, TKZ blog posts, news articles, and website came up.

But I did a double-take when I saw “Debbie Burke” was the author of jazz articles and a novel entitled Glissando.

I hadn’t written any of those.

Dug a little deeper and checked out the other Debbie Burke’s website which is Mine is How confusing is that!

I discovered she is from the Poconos and now lives in Virginia Beach, VA.

For simplicity’s sake, from here on, I’ll refer to us at “Montana Debbie Burke (MT DB)” and “Virginia Debbie Burke (VA DB).”

A few months ago, I started to receive odd emails addressed to “Debbie Burke” that I initially thought were spam and deleted. More messages came from someone named Magdalena, who said she had texted me several times and wanted to talk about a jazz award. I realized Magdalena must be trying to reach VA Debbie. I replied that she had contacted the wrong Debbie Burke but I didn’t know an address for VA Debbie.

Then I received an email from “Debbie Burke” and, no, I wasn’t cc’ing myself.

VA Debbie had seen a comment by “Debbie Burke” on the Authors Guild discussion thread that she didn’t write, so she reached out to me. Turns out we’re both AG members. How confusing must that be for AG?

We had a good laugh about the mix-up and struck up a correspondence. Being writers, we inevitably played “What if?”

What if Debbie Burke interviews Debbie Burke?

So, today, here we are.




It’s my pleasure to introduce…Debbie Burke from Virginia. 




MT DB: I’ve described how I learned about you. How did you first learn about me?

VA DB: I was setting up my profile in Goodreads and saw that your name popped up with a book…something about the devil…I said hey, that’s not me!

MT DB: Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

VA DB: Born in Brooklyn, now living in Virginia Beach. Most of my career has been in communications, either in printing, publishing, PR, media and so on. I was a columnist for my local paper when we lived in Pennsylvania and I became the editor of a regional business journal there, then the editor of a lifestyle magazine.

My first book came about in 2011 when I joined a community band at a local university, playing sax (I had lessons in at The New School for Social Research in NYC the 1980s. Yes, I’m dating myself).

Anyway, I was in the band and hearing all about these very famous musicians who were said to live nearby. Wow, I thought, I’d love to find out more about the jazz legacy of this area, where can I find a book on that? Surely the local library had something on it. But nobody had written about it. The more I dug, the more I found out about the area’s connections to jazz from the 1920s onward. No book? No problem, I decided to write my own. That was the start of something beautiful. That was The Poconos in B Flat and others have followed. I love writing about jazz.

MT DB:  Where can your articles and blog posts be found?

VA DB: My blog ( is all about the jazz world. I’ve done over 400 interviews of not just musicians but also jazz photographers, artists, record execs, promotions people and authors. I have published some articles that are deep in the archives at All About Jazz and wrote for the Jamey Aebersold blog a while back.

MT DB: Your first novel is Glissando. What inspired you to write it? How did you develop the main character Ellie? 

VA DB: Ellie is a composite of a middle-aged woman who’s found that she’s had just about enough of men, period. She joins a university band (that is the only similarity, I promise) where she meets a musician whom she falls very, very hard for. He’s married, and his wife has just graduated from college. A whole lot of drama ensues and Ellie has to make some tough choices about the musician and another man she’s become involved with.

I was inspired, I am inspired, by the dating (mis)adventures of women my age. The difficulties of finding somebody good, the idea of falling in love and in lust when you’re past your mid-point. It’s fascinating to me. I like to write strong women who are more than a little flawed. I don’t agree with all the things Ellie does in the book, but she sure feels real to me.

MT DB: You’re working your second novel. Care to share details?

VA DB: Sure! It’s about a stolen song, a stolen kiss and a stunning family legacy. A jazz bassist finds out his ancestor was enslaved on one of the biggest plantations in Georgia, and miraculously comes across a song that he had written. A shocking secret bubbles up and he embarks on a journey to face it and make things right.

MT DB: You also collaborated on a book that was published in the UK about under-representation of women in the field of jazz. What was that experience like?

VA DB: Yes, Gender Disparity in UK Jazz – A Discussion. The experience was amazing times two. Sammy Stein is the consummate interviewer and knows the UK jazz scene with an enviable thoroughness. She’s a great writer and has excellent contacts who made the content very honest and accessible.


I needed to deal first with the logistics of the language itself; avoiding the instinct to “correct” certain words that are spelled differently in the UK than in the US, and the same goes for idioms and expressions of speech. The other major task was creating it and developmentally editing it as we went along. I think we hit all the right notes, if you pardon the pun. Within three days of uploading it to Amazon, it made number 6 in the very competitive category of “Jazz Books.” 

MT DB: What is your main strength as a writer?

VA DB: Hearing my characters’ voices telling me the story.

MT DB: What quality as a writer do you need to work on?

VA DB: I’m a “pantser” – no outline in my fiction, writing by the seat of my pants. Well, I’ve come to find out the hard way that the more story threads you have, the more challenging this is. Actually, for me right now as I finish my WIP, it’s hellish. Though I feel like an outline could be suffocating, one guy I watch on YouTube (Michael LaRonn) made a great suggestion in one of his videos, which is to make the outline as you go. So it’s a roadmap that’s informed by your ongoing experiences of writing, not something that had been imposed on you before you knew how the book was going to unfurl.

MT DB: You recently started an editing business. What prompted you to hang out an editing shingle? What type of editing do you offer?

VA DB: I’ve been doing this for many years, and just decided to formalize it with Queen Esther Publishing LLC. It’s one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done, but also very intimidating. Being organized is the key. I have an idea of what I’ll work on each day, and even if everything doesn’t pan out exactly, I’ve stuck to it with broad strokes.

The editing I do – book manuscripts, professional articles, theses, and anything else really – goes all the way from proofing to line edits to developmental editing. I also coach authors in self-publishing and building an author platform.

MT DB: Any other information you’d like to add? 

VA DB: It was so nice to “meet” you and read some of your books. I had no idea how you wrote or what you wrote about and was hoping I wouldn’t have to change my name! I’m kidding of course, but I’m sure you felt the same relief. If somebody were to mix us up and look for our books on Amazon, they’d be in for a treat, regardless of which Debbie they got.

 MT DB: I couldn’t agree more!

On Twitter: @jazzauthor

On Instagram: @jazzauthor

On Facebook: debbieburkejazzauthor


Editing Services:


Recently VA Debbie posted her interview with me on her blog. If you’d like to read it, here’s the link: 


To paraphrase P.T. Barnum: “Say anything about us as long as you spell our name right.”

That’s D-E-B-B-I-E    B-U-R-K-E! 


Holiday note: Today is my last post for 2020 before the annual two-week break. Warmest wishes to the TKZ family for happy holidays. May you share this season with loved ones and enjoy it in good health! See you in 2021. 


 TKZers: Do you have a “name twin,” or “alter ego,” or “doppelganger”?


Please check out Tawny Lindholm Thrillers by the Debbie Burke from Montana.

This entry was posted in #amwriting, #writers, #writerslife, Writing by Debbie Burke. Bookmark the permalink.

About Debbie Burke

Debbie writes Tawny Lindholm Thrillers with Passion. The first book in the series, Instrument of the Devil, won the Kindle Scout contest and the Zebulon Award. Additional books in the series are Stalking Midas, Eyes in the Sky, Dead Man's Bluff, Crowded Hearts, and Flight to Forever. Debbie's articles have won journalism awards in international publications. She is a founding member of Authors of the Flathead and helps to plan the annual Flathead River Writers Conference in Kalispell, Montana. Her greatest joy is mentoring young writers.

33 thoughts on “The “Other” Debbie Burke

  1. Fascinating that you found another author using your name. 😉

    I used to see my maiden name (Carter) in the credits of Battlestar Gallactica every week. The actor didn’t look anything like me, btw.
    For my married name, I get Google Alerts about either having been arrested, or putting on some local theater production. I think I’ve died once, too.

    • Terry, reading an obituary must have been a little startling!

      True story: Back in the 1970s, we lived in San Diego and my husband worked downtown. Apparently another man with the same name and about the same age committed suicide by jumping off a downtown bridge that passed over a busy freeway.

      The phones at my husband’s workplace rang constantly that morning. At home, I received a number of calls from concerned friends.

      Fortunately, I had good news for them!

      Happy Hanukkah, to your and your family, Terry.

      • My father in law was I.J. Zuckerman, Israel Joseph. One night, long before I married into the family, Israel Zuckerman was on the news being killed in an auto accident. My MIL’s phone rang off the hook. His brother didn’t call to check. MIL called him and asked why he wasn’t worried.

        “I.J. has exactly two things with Israel Joseph Zuckerman on them. His marriage certificate and his Army dog tags. He left the army years ago. If they had found I.J. Zuckerman’s license, I would have been worried.

  2. Very delightful and interesting interview and post, MT DB and VA DB.

    I discovered there are over 30 professionals with the name Steve Hooley, and is owned by a designer/artist/programmer. I’ve not investigated further or made contact with any of them. And I haven’t run into any other Steve Hooley authors. I found this interesting, when I did some genealogy research and read that the Hooley name had pretty much disappeared in America.

    I hope both of you (MT DB and VA DB) have a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday season.

    And MT DB, thanks for all your wonderful blog posts and teaching.

    • Steve, you’re doing a good job keeping the Hooley name alive and well-respected. Thanks for your kind words. Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas.

    • You have the same name as the older brother of a friend of mine in high school. I’ve met him several times as an adult as well. When you first started commenting I wondered if you were one and the same. It took me a good long while to determine that you weren’t.

  3. What a terrific idea, Debbie, and so well-executed. Thanks for sharing.

    Other Joe Hartlaubs? There are several, more than I would have thought. I am friends with one in Milwaukee. Then there is of course my eldest son. When he was living at home and would get a call asking for “Joe” I would always ask if they wanted Joseph the Greater or Joseph the Lesser.

    Do I have a doppelganger? Yes, at least two. I was in a wedding several years ago and someone else in the wedding party looked exactly like me. People kept coming up to him and saying, “Joe!” He took it in good grace. I also worked in an office with a gent who looked just like and who was even born on the same day, two years later. People would constantly stop one of us or the other, start talking about something, and a couple of minutes into the conversation would say, “Wait a minute!” It was fun.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours, Debbie!

    • “Joseph the Greater” or “Joseph the Lesser” is hilarious! My mother’s name was also “Deborah” and, when I was a kid, incoming phone calls were often confusing. Wish I’d thought of your great solution…except I know who would have been dubbed “the Lesser”!

      Two Doppelgangers is amazing. Must lead to some interesting–if oblique–conversations.

      Merry Christmas to you and your family, Joe!

  4. Sounds like the start of a beautiful friendship.

    When I first started writing I found a Susan Coletta who wrote nonfiction (science, mostly). Brilliant woman. Highly respected in her industry. Her articles dominated the 1st page of Google. After I got published, she faded in the search results. And now, she goes by her married name. 🙂

  5. And this is why every writer should spend a few hours doing a deep search for their name before they put it on a book. Another writer or a serial killer with the same name is a major hint that you should vary your name with an initial, married name, or pseudonym rather than your original choice.

    Heck, I even did deep searches for the names of my books to avoid one that was in print. Later, I was screwed by a novel/TV series that didn’t do me the same courtesy so my STAR-CROSSED disappeared into oblivion on all search engines under the weight of those jerks’ links.

    I was first on the Internet with a presence for my name, but there are three other “Marilyn Byerlys.” None have the variant spelling of my first name. I found one’s obituary. Not a moment I’d recommend to anyone with an uncommon name. Very scary with a TWILIGHT ZONE vibe. The Marilyns are a retired college burser for a university in New England, a professional makeup artist, and a nurse, now deceased. None are writers, thank Heavens.

    • Excellent suggestions, Marilynn.

      About ten years ago, an author friend received a scathing review from a reader lambasting her for writing pornography. When my friend searched her name, she discovered another author with the same name who wrote erotica. My friend quickly added her middle initial.

      Also wise advice to search book titles before choosing one.

  6. I love this story, Debbie, and the interview that followed. It’s heart-warming to see how you two connected.

    I have several “Dale Smith” namesakes as writers. But, that wasn’t why I chose, many years ago, to write as “Dale Ivan Smith.” I like my full name. Ivan is my late father’s name. My mother wanted to name me Ivan Richard Smith, but Dad said he didn’t want any son of his to have to go through life named “junior,” so Ivan became my middle name.

    When I was in a senior in high school in the late 1970s, I was told repeatedly that I looked like Shaun Cassidy (I wore contacts my senior year, and had a full head of blow-dried hair). More recently, more than one library patron, upon hearing my voice, said I sounded exactly like the character “Saul” from the show “Better Call Saul,” which I have never seen.

    Finally, a couple of years ago, after I’d been self-publishing for a while, an elderly namesake of mine, with the same full name, was accused and convicted of attempting to kill his estranged son in Idaho, over a dispute over the care of the elderly man’s wife, who suffered from Alzheimer’s. Not a namesake connection I’d ever imagined, to be sure.

    • Your dad made a smart choice, Dale Ivan.

      Being a “junior” can lead to lots of mix-ups. Try convincing the IRS and Social Security you’re not your dad–even with different birth dates and SS#s. That happened to a family member who wound up legally changing his name.

      Being confused with a convicted criminal sounds like a seed for a story.

  7. How entertaining was that! Thanks, Debbie Burke (both of you…) 🙂

    Before I retired last year, I’d worked in our local cancer center for 15 or so years. Northstar Lodge is owned by our local hospital, but is located on a separate campus.

    For years, I’d receive work emails from another Debbie Gorman who was employed by the hospital. And she received mine. She’s a nurse, I was not. Most of my time there was in administration/management/patient navigation.

    It became a running joke between us that she’d try to do my job and I’d try to do hers whenever we’d receive each other’s emails.

    And we never met each other. 🙂

  8. When I started my writer journey 7 years ago, I Googled my name “Linda Smith”. Alas, there were many authors by that name. How could I as a newbie author stand out? How could I get a website with any combination of my name (lsmith, LMSmith, etc)? I also planned to kill a former boss on paper in that first book and didn’t want my name associated with that literary murder, lol. So I had someone do a gender-neutral search for domain names and I knew someone with the last name Peche. By the way, pronounced Peek-e, not peche (french for peach). So I settled on using the penname Alec Peche. Seven years later, I wished I had chosen a name with my first name at least so I didn’t function with multiple personalities, but that’s hindsight, lol.

    • Alec/Linda,

      Aliases are expected in the crime genre. When one of your multiple personalities gets stuck, maybe the other one can get you unstuck?

  9. In his “My Early Life,” Winston Churchill shows the correspondence between Mr. Winston Churchill, the British author and politician, and Mr. Winston Churchill, the American novelist. They both kept the gag of referring indiscriminately to each other as “Mr. Winston Churchill” throughout these letterrs, but emerged with the British Mr. Winston Churchill agreeing to put “Winston S. Churchill” on his byline from then on, and both Mr. Winston Churchills to put a line on the title page announcing whether they were the English or American Winston S. Churchill.

  10. I’ve got the same issue. I always knew I’d have the Maggie Smith over in Merry Olde England to contend with but she wasn’t a writer (yet). But turns out there’s another Maggie Smith, quite a well-known poet. This fall Atria published her book of meditations called “Keep Moving” and it got lots of attention. Quite a few readers on Instagram sent me notes about how my writing had helped them through troubled times. I had to unfortunately direct them on to the true author.

  11. “Another” Debbie Burke! What a delight for the rest of us. I enjoyed the interview and the other Debbie’s work sounds very interesting.

    One of the benefits of having a name that most people can’t pronounce (some examples are “DiBlanca,” “DiBank,” and “Di—uh”) or spell (I revert to the military alphabet when spelling over the phone), is that there isn’t any competition in namespace.

    Funny name story: we have a godchild named “Kay” after me. She is Italian, born and raised in Rome. The Italian alphabet does not contain the letters “K” or “Y,” so her name is something of a shock to her countrymen. She sometimes gets “Kai” or “Key.” Fortunately, she’s in graduate school here in the U.S. now where people know how to pronounce her first name. But then there’s her last name…

  12. Fun piece, Debbies. My full name is Alan Garry Rodgers and I rarely get any of them spelled the right way. My dad’s name was Alan so I was called Garry to avoid confusion. I joined the police force only to find two other Garry Rodgers (sps) in my same division. I worked directly with one Garry Rogers (not Rodgers) so to avoid more confusion, our colleagues referred to us by description, not by name. I’m 5’11” and +/- 175 lbs. The other guy was a big fat @#$% so we they called us “Big G” and “Little G”.

  13. Love meeting the other Debbie Burke.
    I was named for my mother, so there were two Elaine Viets. I was known as “Little Elaine” and Mom was “Big Elaine,” which confused the heck out of people when I was growing up. I was 6 feet tall in the eighth grade, and towered over my mother. God help the person who suggest my mother go by “Old Elaine” and “Young Elaine.”

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