What’s in a Name?


I’ve had some to ask  “Who is Sislyn Stewart?” and “Why do you have a pen name?”  For writers, there are logical reasons to assume a pen name:

  1. Your real name is hard to remember and/or spell correctly.  If you have one of those long Czech names with “ski” on the end, you might want a change.
  2. Your real name sounds silly, stupid or obscene. If your real name suffers from any of these problems, you’ll have a harder time getting readers to accept your work.
  3. Your real name is the same as, or similar to, another author or a famous figure.
  4. You are reclusive or fear fame, and want to make sure that regardless of how famous you might become, people won’t recognize your name everywhere you go.
  5.  If you are already an established author, you might want to use a pen name because of issues similar to brand name loyalty.

Good ole’ #3 is mine.  When you google “Huffman AND writer,” several references immediately pop with the last name of Huffman: Heather, Alan.  Then there are those who even share the same initials as me: John, Jenna, and yes, even a Joan Huffman.  (And don’t even get me started on how prolific the Hoffman name is in literature!)

Another consideration in taking a pen name is that it needs to have a certain flow, a grace as it is said aloud.  It also needs a memorable flair, something that sticks in your brain, so folks in the bookstore can scratch their head and say to themselves, “What was that author’s name again?  I think the initials were S.S.  Last name—can’t remember.  But the first name, Sis, sis-something? Sislyn, that’s it.”

So in a nutshell, “Sislyn” is an uncommon first name.  There is no published or unpublished writer by the name Sislyn Stewart recorded by Google, except for me.  (Go there and look sometime.)

Why the “Stewart” then?  It simply sounded good with Sislyn.  (My apologies  to Randy & Kim, Bob & Ruth, Ryan & Beth.)  Funny thing is, it’s relative.  If I look hard enough, I’ve probably got a Stewart hiding in the branches of my mother’s Scotch-Irish family tree somewhere!

Lookin’ up,

Sislyn/Ps. 19:1