It’s Meet the Author Monday! Each week we’ll meet a new author and get to know a little about them, their writing process, publishing experience and tips for other writers. Today we’re talking to Debbie Burke, author of Icarus Flies Home.
Debbie Burke is an award-winner editor, ghostwriter and the author of “Icarus Flies Home,” “Tasty Jazz Jams for Our Times” (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2), “Glissando – A story of love, lust and jazz,” “The Poconos in B Flat,” and “Music in the Scriptures.” Her jazz blog at debbieburkeauthor.com has earned international praise. She is the owner of Queen Esther Publishing LLC, a professional editing and author coaching firm.
About the book (from Amazon):
A stolen song, a stolen kiss and a stunning family legacy
Jazz bassist Beauregard (“Bo”) Sonski-Abbott finds himself reeling after learning an aging Broadway producer may have stolen a song written by his distant relative: a great-great uncle who was enslaved on one of the biggest plantations in Georgia. Bo’s journey to unravel the truth takes him from the music scene of New York to Washington, DC, only to be sidetracked by a much younger woman who threatens to tear apart his marriage and his career.
Author Interview with Debbie Burke:
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- Tell me about your first published book? What was the journey like?
I wrote “The Poconos in B Flat” because I was looking for a book on the very vibrant jazz scene of northeastern Pennsylvania and couldn’t find one. That was 2010, and I’d had a substantial career already in communications and journalism. I started identifying the musicians I wanted to feature, and started doing phone interviews. There were a few in-person interviews which were very exciting, as they were with some pretty famous individuals, like Phil Woods (sax) and Bob Dorough (vocals).
- Can you share a snippet from one of your books that isn’t in the blurb or excerpt?
From the new novel “Icarus Flies Home”:
When he stepped outside into the cold morning air, he reached into the folds of his jacket and drew out his parting gift. Wrapped in the soft white squares sat six beautiful cookies, some made of meringue, some dipped in chocolate, some smelling faintly of rum.
This was the validation he’d been seeking, and he was certain it was a sign of friendship. Though the old man never so much as cracked a smile, Bo understood that the lessons gave his reluctant mentor a sense of purpose. Maybe he really even liked the boy.
Between the Beethoven and the Bach, though, the violin started to feel limiting. Bo longed to break free into more dynamic and exciting music. A twist of fate was about to occur that would set the course for a world he never thought he’d be given entry to.
He was about to turn the corner and walk straight into jazz.
- Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what music inspired or accompanied this current book?
I sure do! I almost always write about jazz whether it’s in fiction or nonfiction, but if I’ve got music on, it has to be instrumental (no vocals), because I find that distracting to my own voice. Sometimes that means jazz, sometimes what we used to call New Age, and sometimes it’s just ambient sound like brown noise.
- Who is your favorite artist and/or what is your favorite song?
I’m smiling because this is a question I try not to ask the musicians that I interview! It’s almost an impossible question and they hate to commit to one song. But I like many, many contemporary jazz artists, Bach and Holst and Schubert, Sinatra and Nancy Wilson and Leonard Cohen.
Some of my all-time favorite songs are “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” “Central Park West,” “On Green Dolphin Street,” and “Being Alive” (Sondheim) – well sure, also the BeeGees “Stayin’ Alive” which is a great workout song.
- We’ve just started a new year so New Years resolutions are a popular topic right now. Do you have any resolutions or anything special that you’ll be focusing on this year?
I’m deep in the weeds writing my next two nonfiction books (see below). I hate New Year’s resolutions, and will just say that my goal is to do be thorough in my research and polish my words as much as possible before releasing them into the world.
On a personal note, I definitely want to get outside more, and to somehow, safely of course, be with other people more than I have in 2020 which was a strangely insular year.
- If you could choose three people to invite for a dinner party, who would they be and why?
My dad, so I could get to know him better (he died when I was 14); John Coltrane, tenor sax icon, to talk about making music; and the artist Edward Hopper so I could ask him why he painted loneliness all the time.
- Writing can be an emotionally draining and stressful pursuit. Any tips for aspiring writers?
Write constantly, but it needn’t be writing a book per se. It could be your marketing strategy, blog posts and social media posts, your book synopsis, your bio or soundbites for future ads. Keep moving like a shark.
- What does literary success look like to you?
Lots of reviews on Amazon, and obviously book sales.
- Are you currently working on anything new you would like to share with readers?
Yes, two nonfiction books! One is the second volume of musician interviews and CD reviews from my jazz blog at www.debbieburkeauthor.com and it’s called “Tasty Jazz Jams for Our Times, Vol. 2” and then a book on the Jewish folk music known as klezmer, which hasn’t been formally titled yet. Both will be out by fall of this year! Stay tuned and follow me on https://bit.ly/DebbieBurkeAmazon.
Thank you for the interview, Kelly!