I am writing a book and had nearly finished half of it and gave it to my friend to read, but she told me there is already a character in a book with the same first and last name. Would it be okay if I were to use it? Honestly, I didn't know and I hadn't even read the book.

Could I just give her a different middle name and still use the same first and last name? Or could I put 'all characters in this book are a work of fiction. Any coincidences with real-life are purely coincidental"?

The name is Macey McHenry (same as in the Gallagher Girls series).

  • 3
    How much is your character similar to the other book's character? How much would the audiences of two books overlap? Either way, I'd recommend to change the name, unless you are particularly attached to it.
    – Alexander
    Commented Jun 21, 2021 at 20:23
  • 1
    Could you please explain why you don't want to change your character's name to something different? Commented Nov 22, 2021 at 12:11

2 Answers 2


You might want to consider another aspect of identical names, aside from the legal aspect. Confusion.
You want it to be as easy as possible for people to speak about your book, and Macey, without having to go through which exact character they're speaking about.
"Oh - Macey McHenry from the Gallagher Girls?"
"No, a different one, from [insert your book name]."
This could either prove to be a good idea, since it might evoke Gallagher Girls' fans interest. Or, it might confuse people and make them give up before they even tried, whereas you lose another potential fan of your book.
Worse yet, what if your readers find it too confusing to read another book with a character with the same name as another one they once read?
If I were you, I'd find a way around giving your character the same exact name as a character in another popular book.
Call her by a nickname, change her name, or anything really, to avoid the confusion that will come with these identical names.


Danish writer Martin Andersen Nexo wrote Pelle the Conqueror, a novel about a Swedish boy and his father who move to Denmark, published in 1906-1910. Many Danish boys were named after the character of Pelle in the novel, including Pelle Hvenegaard (b. 1975) who portrayed Pelle in the 1987 movie of the novel.

A little research shows that the Gallagher Girls series is about teenage girls at a school for spies, and that it was published in the 2010s. So if your story is set in the present time, a character named Macey McHenry can't claim that her parents loved the book and so chose Macey as her name. But if your story is set maybe a few decades in the future, your character Macey McHenry might complain that every McHenry girl she meets is named Macey due to the popularity of the books, causing identity problems for them.

Or if your Macey McHenry character is old enough, every time that someone mentions the books she will say that if she ever finds out that Ally Carter (b. 1974) knew her family or otherwise knew about her, she will sue Carter for using her name without permission.

And you might have your Macey MacHenry character complain about all the jokes about her being a spy.

And speaking about permission, you might want to contact Ally Carter and her publisher and find out what they think about your character's name and if they want you to change it.

And possibly remind them of the saying that "there is no such thing as bad publicity".

  • 3
    You actually hit on another option in the form of a typo. The character in the book you did not right is Macey McHenry.... your character is Macey MacHenry. The former's family name is of an Irish Background while the latter is of a Scottish Background. Also I wouldn't acknowledge the other too much because right now, I do not believe the series is mainstream enough for people to get the jokes... which actually helps you more than it hurts. If you had a character named Clark Kent or Harry Potter, you could make these jokes... but they are more widely known.
    – hszmv
    Commented Jun 22, 2021 at 16:04

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