I need a new name

namesI’m thinking of self-publishing a novel I wrote a couple of years ago, but I have a problem. It’s my name. There’s already a Steve Morris writing fiction, and at least two others writing non-fiction. There are also some Stephen Morrises and bizarrely, even a novel called Stephen Morris. Who needs another Steve Morris or Stephen Morris in the world of books? I could use my full name, Stephen T Morris, but that sounds square to me.

There’s only one option – give up. No, just kidding. I need to invent a pen name, a pseudonym. But what?

I need a name that fits my writing style – funny, philosophical and offbeat. It has to be easy to spell unambiguously (Ashleigh vs Ashley, MacDonald vs McDonald, etc) and it has to be unique. I want a name that no other person has, otherwise I may as well stick with my own name.

It’s easy to invent silly names:

  • Donald Dimplebottom
  • Manfred Manhandler
  • Oscar von Klaxenburg

But I want to be taken seriously, even though my novel is comic. And though the name will be fictional, I don’t want it to sound made-up, even though all names are, of course, made-up. I’m looking for something cool, yet distinguished; contemporary yet timeless; serious yet approachable. I like the idea of using a surname as a first name for added gravitas:

  • Anderson
  • Ashton
  • Cameron
  • Carter
  • Harvey
  • Jackson
  • Lewis
  • Taylor

But I don’t want to end up sounding like a law firm. You know the kind of thing – Pickles, Anyweather, Cornmarket & Drudge.

And in order to make it unique I intend to combine it with a distinctive surname, perhaps the name of a place:

  • Appleford
  • Blackthorn
  • Bond
  • Hart
  • Faringdon
  • Fleet
  • Radcliffe
  • Woodstock
  • Radley

It worked for James Bond. It worked for Harrison Ford. It didn’t work for Smith Trafalgar Square. Let’s find a combination that will work for me.


The name’s Bond Street. James Bond Street. No, wait, try this one …

So here are some suggestions:

  • Lewis Appleford
  • Harvey Blackthorn
  • Ashton Fleet
  • Jackson Radcliffe
  • Taylor Woodstock

What do you think of these? Do you have any better suggestions? Help, please!

39 responses to “I need a new name

  1. S.T. Morris, which makes me think St. Morris. I’ve always thought names with ‘Saint’ in them sound really nice. Stephen St. Morris? Or how about just Morris Stephen, or Morris Stephenson.

  2. I like how much thought you’ve given to this! I like either Harvey Blackthorn or Ashton Fleet.

  3. I like Harvey Blackthorn too.

    Suggestion: Combine two of your favourite writers’ name to make one name. Eg: “Joseph Anton” “Bernard Marx” (Obviously these have already been used.)

  4. A. Stephen Morris Story

  5. Agree with Halim

  6. I like Harvey Blackthorn three (or four or whatever).

    Actually, this post makes me realize that I may have to cross the same divide if I ever try to publish anything. I’m pretty sure there are already a zillion Michael Smith’s out there, probably in every genre.

    Steve, is this a requirement from any of the publishing platforms? Or just something you want to do to avoid confusion? Just curious.

  7. Lewis Michael Fleet… I think this sounds kinda cool, it can also be funny assuming you take up rank as an Administrative Officer for your book…
    *Lewis Michael Fleet
    *Lewis M. Fleet, Administrative Officer
    *LMFAO 😛
    Meets all your requirements! 😀

  8. Harvery Blackthorn sounds really good. Although, Sid’s comment is quite genius 😀 😉 How about – Tyler Flynn, Ben Dixon, Joe King?

  9. Mort Vestries (is a jumble of Steve T Morris). If you want to follow this rabbit down the hole, go to http://www.wordsolver.net

  10. Thanks to all the comments so far. Harvey Blackthorn is way out in front. However, a friend of mine says this: “Harvey Blackthorn is a great name but it immediately conjures up a privately-educated middle-class rather pompous personality.”

    My own favourite is Jackson Radcliffe. Any comments on this name?

  11. Stick with your own name … people figure it out quickly, trust me. Only once did I have an agent confuse me with the far more famous English Mark Simpson, who coined the term Metrosexual. In the end, sticking with my name has been just fine. As I say, every figures it out, they really do. Besides, until your famous they just look at the cover and read the blurb. Again. Trust me, Steve. Jackson Radcliffe sounds … well made up. if I may say that. Good luck !

  12. Here’s a different one: how about Reed Moonstone. Or Gilles Moonstone.

  13. Fan of Dickens

    While I take everyone’s point, I think it is fun to give yourself a name that you want, rather than the one you were given at birth and had no control over; it means you can put something of yourself into it, just as you do in your writing. So how about a bit of both: your first name, which you are used to, and a surname which you have chosen? As you want a name with some gravitas without being too stuffy, and as you enjoy embracing other cultures, how about a name which is not typically British? How about STEPHEN CAVALLETTI? I take the surname from Little Dorrit, in case you haven’t read it; he is a brave immigrant who puts his heart, humour and diligence into his new life. As this is a new venture for you, as your book is humourous, and as you rightly despise the vilification of newcomers to the country, this name encompasses at least three aspects of your writing voice!

  14. Jackson Radcliffe hands down 😀

  15. I will give the matter some serious thought and get back to you. What is the novel about though?

  16. for some reason Jackson Radcliff jumped out at me… so my suggestion is that one!

  17. Oh this is good fun, hey? I’ve toyed with this myself on a number of occasions, then figured I’d better actually write the damn book first! (Two chapters and a pen-name weren’t going to get me very far, haha)
    Have you got a middle name you could use? My ‘artist’ name became a blend of my first name and middle initial Kele = Kelly + E. It’s funny how important names are when you get down to it tho – especially one to match the genre you’re writing. So of the little list you’ve got there, I’d say either of the last two (Jackson Radcliffe or Taylor Woodstock). Good luck! 😀

  18. I just wanted to say a *huge* thank you to *everyone* who has taken the time to make a suggestion. This is really helpful. I’m going to leave this open for a little longer before I decide what to do, but just wanted to say thank you, as I haven’t had time to reply to every single comment. I have certainly taken all the ideas and feedback on board.

  19. Thanks for all your help. I decided to go with Jackson Radcliffe – https://blogbloggerbloggest.com/who-is-jackson-radcliffe/
    This was a very difficult exercise, as there are so many constraints on choosing a name.

  20. Oh, I love this post! 😀

    Ehem…I love your name, by the way. I wouldn’t change Stephen at all, but that’s just me.

    Good luck as Jackson!

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