Hey, that’s my name!

Having the same name as someone else can be a source of pride – for instance, being named after a parent or grandparent. Or a source of annoyance – if you keep getting someone else’s mail. Or confusion – like, did you write that mystery about bionic Sherlock Holmes and his mutant sidekick Whatsit? (Um, no.) It can even be kind of cool. Today the Chicks are chatting about people not related to us, both the interesting and the infamous, who happen to share our names!

Lisa Q. Mathews

CotC Word balloons

My name really is Lisa Q. Mathews (the “Q” standing for “Quinn”), but a lot of people ask me if I added a fake “Q ” for a quirky nom de plume. Well, no, I’ve lived with that quirkiness all my life, thanks very much. But I do have an excellent reason for using it on my Ladies Smythe & Westin books and everywhere online: the “other” Lisa Matthews (double-t) was Playboy’s 1991 Playmate of the Year. This posed a problem when I went to buy my author website domain. She let her domain expire a year or so later, so I could have had it for only $2,228.00 bucks. I wasn’t sure it would be such a hot idea, though, to have a built-in fan club that would probably love to chat with my cozy mystery readers. Lisa Matthews does show up way before I do in Google images (yep, go ahead—I’ll wait). She seems really nice, actually. She reprised her iconic, girl-next-door Playboy cover a couple of years ago. She’s saluting the readers and her cute straw sunhat is strategically placed. I’m considering the same for my next author photo.

Kellye Garrett


Anyone who caught an episode of the iconic Charlie’s Angels already knows the answer to this one but I share a name with Jaclyn Smith’s character. The show is older than me by a year but I actually wasn’t named after that Kelly Garrett. My mom claims she liked the name Kelly and figured that if it was a name on a TV show then it must have a ring to it. Plus, she also was banking on that I’d last longer than the show. (Luckily, she was right in that regards.) My mom was more shocked when I informed her that I’m not the only Kellye (with an E) Garrett out there. According to Intelius, there are nine of us, including one who has the @KellyeGarrett hashtag on Twitter! I do take solace that it does appear that I’m the only Kellye Michelle Garrett walking this green Earth.

Ellen Byron


Annoying fact about both my birth name and pen name: There’s a writer/editor named Ellen Seideman, which is my birth name. And there’s a Wall Street Journal writer named Ellen Byron, the name I’ve used professionally for years. (My dad’s middle name was Byron, so I borrowed it.) I worked with the first Ellen at Redbook, and she was great. I’ve reached out to the WSJ Ellen several times because I always get LinkedIn requests for her and compliments on my latest “WSJ article.” I even sent her a copy of Plantation Shudders. I’ve never heard a word from her. Talk about the waste of a good book!

Vickie Fee


Until my book published, I had only ever Googled my name a few times. But once I knew my name was “out there” on blogs, reviews and such, I started checking. Vicki Fee, whose name is spelled with just an “i”, sans the “e”, turned up in searches. Naturally, I was curious about her. An actress who died in 1975 when she was only 30, Vicki has two screen credits in IMDb (the International Movie Data Base). She appeared in one episode of the Munsters, and had a small part in a campy 1966 film, “Out of Sight.” Hubs and I watched both, but could only guess which actress was her. She had non-speaking roles, and there’s no photo of her in IMDb.

Her mom, Astrid Allwyn, had a distinguished acting career, appearing in 1930s and ‘40s films, including “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” Her bio says she retired from show biz to raise a family, which included Vicki and her sister, Melinda O. Fee, also an actress. Every time this Vicki Fee pops up in my search results, I wonder what her acting career might have looked like if she’d lived longer – plenty of actors have had inauspicious early roles.

Marla Cooper

CotC Marla Cooper

There’s another Marla Cooper all right. And she just so happens to be (or at least claims to be) DB Cooper’s niece! You remember DB Cooper, the famous plane hijacker / skydiver who disappeared somewhere over the Pacific Northwest? Yeah, him. The other Marla Cooper did an ABC interview back in 2011 saying they were related, so her name is plastered all over Google when you search for me. She even comes up when you add the word “mystery.” As in, “D.B. Cooper Mystery: Marla Cooper’s Mom Comes Forward.” I even had to write to Amazon, because they’d credited an extra book to me on my author page: DB’s Niece (In the Raw, Unedited!): The story of my hijacked life! (The Memoirs of Marla Wynn Cooper Book 1).

Cynthia Kuhn


Just searched it up and there are 100 of us in the US, apparently (hello)! I’m familiar with two. The first time, I was working the department phones during grad school and someone called in asking for application material to be sent. When she said her/my name, it totally threw me off and I said something like, “Very funny — but who is this?” She repeated it, and for a few minutes it was like we were trapped in an Abbott and Costello routine until we established ourselves. The other is also a professor. We’ve never spoken, but I often find our books grouped together on book and reader sites. I’ve spent hours trying to untangle us electronically. However, recently, it’s gone even further — some of the bios on my books have been replaced with her bio! Whenever I see that on a website or in the library catalog, it’s the oddest sensation, like I’m being erased…

Leslie Karst

Leslie graphic

Parents-to-be these days have an important decision to make regarding the name they give their future child: easily searchable online or not? Turns out my name is pretty darn unique, though this was far from my folks’ thoughts at the time I was born. I was simply named after my dad, whose middle name is Leslie. It took six pages to find someone other than me when I did a Google search for “Leslie Karst.” And that someone ended up being, yes, my father (his full name is included in his State Bar of California profile).

Not till page nine did I finally come across another Leslie Karst who isn’t related to me. It was a link to the Find a Grave website (perhaps I can use this in a future book), and the entry was for a Leslie Peter Karst from Galatia, Kansas. He lived from 1933 to 2005 and is buried in the Fairview Cemetery in his hometown. The inscription on his grave reads “ME2 U.S. Navy—Korea.” And that’s all I know about the guy. I wonder if we’re related…

Readers, who do you share a name with—famous or otherwise? Drop us a note in the comments below!

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52 thoughts on “Hey, that’s my name!

  1. Lisa, I do think yours is the most awkward one of the bunch!
    My youngest daughter is named after Laura and Rose Ingalls Wilder- Laura Rose. I homeschooled when I was expecting her and we had been reading and exploring Laura Ingalls life. My other girls decided that we should name the new baby Laura, or Almanzo, if it was a boy.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. This is a topic that’s close to my heart–and my rap sheet. Well…the rap sheet of the other Kathleen Marie Valenti.

    A few years ago, I was subpoenaed as a witness to a crime that took place in Portland (a few hours away) involving someone with the same name as my brother-in-law. After several long and very confusing phone calls, I discovered that the district attorney’s office had gotten the Kathleen Valentis confused, which wasn’t awesome considering that the other Kathleen Marie had various and sundry crimes under her belt. The issue was finally resolved. Or so I thought.

    Two years later, I received a traffic ticket in the mail for a moving violation in an Oregon city I hadn’t set foot (or tire) in for more than a decade. I knew immediately what had happened and very smugly called the police department to explain. Imagine my surprise when the officer read the birth date they had on file (mine) and the driver’s license number (also mine). QUOI?? Long story short, the DMV had Googled and filled in my personal information on the other Kathleen’s title when she failed to provide it herself. It took a loooooong time to untangle that mess.

    I’ve since thought about using my maiden name as my middle name, but “Kathleen Melkonian Valenti” rarely fits in the boxes on most forms. On the other hand…maybe it’s worth a try!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Oh, no, what a hassle! Kathy, I’m sensing a book here in which your “innocent” character commits the perfect crime and frames the same name character (one with the rap sheet) for it!

      Liked by 5 people

    2. OMG, what a nightmare, Kathy! I feel for you. I live in fear of something like that happening to me. Well, not with the WSJ author. She’s got a pretty clean slate, far as I can tell. But my identity being stolen.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. There is another Keenan Powell. There are several really but I’m FB friends with Keenan Wynn Powell after I sent him a cease and desist letter telling him to stop using my name. He is very clever, a filmmaker and cannot be outwitted in banter but don’t tell him I said that.

    Liked by 6 people

  4. Mark Baker. There are tons of us out there. Although I don’t know what kind of Google results a stranger would get since Google starts with the results it thinks you want, so you’ll usually see yourself first in a Google search.

    The most fun I had with names was about 15 years ago when I had a roommate named Marcus. We started getting junk mail and phone calls for Marcus Baker. Since that was neither of us, it was easy to tell people “No one here by that name.” Especially when they stumbled over the name. (Seriously, how hard is my name to pronounce? But that’s a different story.)

    Liked by 5 people

      1. No. But that’s for asking. 😄

        Btw, this is one reason why I started using Carstairs for everything on the internet. It’s almost impossible to get any combination of my name because it is so common.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. No. But thanks for asking. 😄

        Btw, this is one reason why I started using Carstairs for everything on the internet. It’s almost impossible to get any combination of my name because it is so common.

        Liked by 4 people

  5. I love this and it made me laugh! Sherry Harris is such a common name — I should have stuck with my maiden name. And apparently a lot of Sherry’s don’t like to pay their bills because I’ve had many go rounds with collections agencies trying to prove I’m not “that” Sherry Harris. There’s a minister Sherry Harris and high school swimmer Sherry Harris who bring some dignity to the name. Whew!

    Liked by 7 people

    1. I get some bull collectors who like to call me because my last name is Baker. Seriously, that’s all it takes. Believe me, they get an earful from me. Not to mention the company who called me for years trying to collect from the person who had my landline last. They didn’t seem to hear me when I said I didn’t know that person because six months later, they’d start up again.

      Liked by 5 people

  6. I enjoyed reading your experiences with your names. I had a rather anonymous life prior to Harry Potter, but when Rufus Scrimgeour showed up things changed. If you’re not a Potter fan you might not know that Rufus Scrimgeour is a character in the books; the Minister of Magic. My last name (by marriage) is also Scrimgeour. It is quite fun to search my name and see who gathers on the first page. If you don’t add my first name (Kathie) it is all Bill Nighy. I actually don’t even show up (I quit looking at page 11). I write under a shortened version of my name (K.J. Scrim) only because it is easier to spell, but I do have fun telling people that Rufus is a distant relative.

    Liked by 5 people

  7. This was great finding out this information. I have a long post here.
    My current name, for those not in the know, it’s Tammy Barker, I also have an unpictured actress twin. She was in Hercules and Xena in 1995 and The Hunger Games in 2012.
    Tammy McCoy has over 2300 names in the country. Fun fact, I got this name because my 1st ex wanted to meet me because my maiden name was the same as his mother’s maiden name.
    Tammy Moyer is my given name. There are over 7000 of us, including a deceased local anchorwoman from Vancouver.
    Why is my name Tammy? Because of some stupid movie series staring Debbie Reynolds and Sandra Dee. Yeah, I was born in that era. Told you I was old!
    And my younger son is Christopher Lee McCoy. Guess who he has a name in common with! Totally by accident.
    Man I’m tired! Whew!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Okay, Hestia–now I’ve got “Taaaameee, Taaaamee, Tammy’s in love” running through my head! (Wish I knew if he knew what I’m dreaming of….lalalala)

      Liked by 2 people

  8. My husband is a second, rather than junior, with two capital “I’s” after his name. A credit card company managed to make it Li instead of II. So now he gets mail addressed to Mr. Li, and I even get letters to Mrs. Li!I guess it’s my alias.:)

    Liked by 3 people

  9. My youngest sister had some annoying problems because another woman in the same general part of the state had the same first and last name, plus she was almost the exact same age as my sister – they were born three days apart. The other woman’s creditors kept contacting my sister, and hospitals confused their medical records,among many other annoyances. Fortunately, they were never in the same hospital at the same time.

    And Kathy, she had her own unsettling experience with the law! One December, a few days before Christmas, she received a phone call from what I guess was the District Attorney office, demanding to know why she hadn’t been in court that morning. Turns out the woman with my sister’s name had been present at a barroom brawl some months earlier in which someone was killed, and she had been subpoenaed as a witness. The District Attorney office didn’t have a working phone number for her and got my sister’s number through Directory Assistance. The person who called my sister quickly realized that my sister was telling the truth, and he offered her some advice to keep people from continuing to confuse the two of them. (She never took any of it!)

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Deb, zoinks! That is some case of mistaken identity!! I still wonder about the crime the “other me” witnessed.

      PS If the person at the DA’s office still wants to offer advice about how to keep people from confusing us with our name alters, I’d gladly take it! 😉

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Kathy, the person from the DA’s office told her the other woman’s middle initial was A and asked her for her middle initial, which was M. He suggested that she should always write out her full name when she signed her name on legal documents, first, middle, and last names. Another suggestion, which would have been more involved, was to legally change her name to our mom’s maiden name. (My sister was single.) At the tine I was working as a paralegal and did a little investigating, and discovered that they even owned similar cars! A few years later, I read the woman’s obituary, which startled me at first, because of the same first and last name. She was in her fifties. My sister lived a few years longer, and died at sixty. It was just so bizarre that they were both relatively young when they died, after so many other similarities. The families are not related.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Oh my gosh! So many similarities!!

        The “other me,” as I like to call her, has the same first, middle and last name as I do and is two years older. Maybe I should use my maiden name as my middle name. The initials would be the same, but I do think it might help. Thanks for advice! It’s a strange–and inconvenient–problem.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I have such an unusual surname that I never bothered to google it. After reading your post I found 6 women with my name.Barbara Carotenuto. I was shocked.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Last year when I had to made all the decisions regarding my debut novel, I checked Amazon and discovered that there was a “cozy” mystery author named Karen Neary (there’s also a writer of quilting books with my name) so I thought it best to tack on my husband’s name making it Karen Neary Smithson. A couple months later, I checked back on Amazon and the “cozy” writer had disappeared. I Googled her and still nothing. Now I’m wondering if it was all a dream!

    Liked by 4 people

  12. I just saw this and I have to add:


    Scroll patiently, and about halfway down is a pen-name generator! You can specify whether you would like an “edgy” pen name, or “steampunk,” “Victorian” or “EVIL”!

    I also like the BabyCenter “top names for X year” feature. So, if you decide you want an old-lady-sounding name, or you want readers to think you’re a thirty-something, you just pick a year, and take a “top name” that makes you sound like you’re that age.

    (or, I suppose you could recommend to your doppelganger, that SHE get a new name. Either way)


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