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Author Balks When Sister Demands Book Character’s Name Be Changed After She Stole It For Son

A mother holding a baby.
hobo_018/Getty Images

Most writers are inspired by the people they know, and the actual events that take place in their lives.

Leading those nearest and dearest to them not to be so surprised to discover a character name that might be familiar to them, or the behavior, or another character being reminiscent of someone they know.

Of course, life doesn’t just imitate art; sometimes, art very much imitates life.

Some people are so inspired by a book they read or a film they watched that they become inspired to make unexpected and significant life choices.

Redditor Chipmunk-Sea had been hard at work on a novel for many years and happily shared details of their work with their sister.

Something the original poster (OP) did not expect was that their sister would be so inspired by their unpublished work that they would go on to make a very important life choice based on their knowledge of the book.

While the OP wasn’t terribly upset by this, they were less than thrilled when their sister asked them to change their book to avoid unwanted associations.

Something the OP flatly refused to do.

Wondering if they were being unreasonable, the OP took to the subReddit “Am I The A**hole” (AITA), where they asked fellow Redditors:

“AITA for refusing to change the name of my book character after my sister stole her name?”

The OP explained why they refused to make any changes to their book despite their sister’s demands:

“Hello everyone.”

“I am posting this because I genuinely can’t tell if I’m in the wrong about this or not.”

“I have been working on writing a book for almost five years now, and one of my main characters has a pretty uncommon name that I really like for her.”

“She was the first character I made for this book.”

“In 2021, I lived with my sister for a few months, and she loved hearing me talk about my book and hear about my characters.”

“Back then she had three daughters.”

“Flash forward to this year, and my sister is pregnant with my first nephew.”

“I have been so excited for his arrival.”

“She kept his name secret up until he was born just a few days ago and she named him the same name as my book character.”

“I thought all was well and fine until she came to me asking me to change the name of my character since she ‘doesn’t want him to be associated with a book for his whole life’.”

“I thought she was joking at first when she asked me this, so I said no, and she got really mad at me, saying I was going to ruin the name for my entire family when I published my book.”

“I didn’t know how to respond, so I just haven’t texted her back.”

“The name is Ashlaun if you want to know.”

“Am I the A**hole for refusing to change my characters name for my nephew?”

Fellow Redditors weighed in on where they believed the OP fell in this particular situation, by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

The Reddit community was in agreement that the OP was not the a**hole for refusing to change the name of one of their characters.

Everyone agreed that the OP’s sister had absolutely no right to ask the OP to change their character’s name, particularly as she was the one who stole it. She should have thought about possible associations before choosing such an unusual name, with a few highly questioning why the OP’s sister would want to name their child such an unusual name.


“And don’t change the name of your character.”

“Your sister knew this book was your ‘baby’ because she saw you writing it for the past 5 years, then she took the name, kept it secret til he was born, and had the gall to ask you to change it.”

“Your sis is a jerk!”

“She’s totally self-absorbed and has no right to ask that.”

“It’s cool if she wants her kid to share a name with your character.”

‘My aunt wrote a pretty famous book and named the main character after her sister.”

“It was really sweet even if the character wasn’t anything like her real-life namesake.”-First_Grapefruit_326


“This is something she should have talked to you about before taking that name.”- Brilliant-Camera9249


“If she didn’t want his name associated with a book, she shouldn’t have given him a name from a book.”

“It’s sweet that she has so much confidence in the success of your book that she thinks anybody might make the connection over all the years of his life, though.”- CatteNappe


“She had the option to NOT name him after the character in the book.”

“Perhaps she should have thought of that first?”

“Not your problem.”- ReviewOk929

“She should have thought about that BEFORE naming her child after your character.”

“NTA.”- DoIwantToKnow6417


“She took the name for her son from your book, and now wants you to change the book?”

“That’s absurd.”- _mmiggs_


“First off, it’s a name you made up for your book.”

“Second, while it’s a cool name for a fictional character, it’s a terrible name for an actual human being who has to live in their life with that name.”- 1965BenlyTouring150


“But I’d rewrite their backstory in the book to include a mom who is an entitled thief.”- Paulbac


“If she didn’t want him associated with a book character, she should not have named him after a book character.”

“Don’t change it.”- BulbasaurRanch


“And another writer here.”

“As you, I still write on my book/books — I have too many ongoing projects/ideas.”

“And I’m bad at making decisions — like what to finish first.”

“But back to your sister.”

“She ‘stole’ (as far as you can steal any name) from your book.”

“She doesn’t have rights to it, and she knew that the name was part of the book.”

“If she doesn’t want her son to be associated with your book, she shouldn’t have used that name.”

“It’s just that simple.”

“But to expect you to change the book for her is ridiculous.”

“And I mean, many children’s names are inspired by books, series, and movies.”

“Just today I saw in a TV show report that because of the Bridgerton series, some old names are back in trend.”

“That’s what happens.”

“And anyway, it isn’t like the people getting the names are like the characters in the books.”

“So, I see no issue with that phenomenon.”- xXMimixX2


“I’m going to be quite blunt here.”

“Unless you are the next hot breakout author, very few people are going to associate the name of your nephew with your book character.”

“I’ve published two books.”

“I was NOT the next hot breakout author.”

“My daughter named her oldest son after one of my characters.”

“It was an uncommon name then, but now it’s fairly popular.”

“No one has ever said to him, ‘hey, you have the same name as that guy in your grandma’s book’.”

“Keep your character’s name just the way it is.”- TheFilthyDIL

“This is the silliest thing I’ve ever heard.”

“She can take the name from your book and then you’re expected to change your book!”


“NTA.”- Miserable_Dentist_70


“What a tragedeigh!”- spaceylaceygirl


“I would make a social media post and tag all of your friends and family.”

“‘I am so honored you named nephew after the main character in the book I started back in 2021’.”

“‘When it’s published the dedication will include how special this moment is to me’.”-WhoKnewHomesteading

The OP later returned with an update on their final decision regarding their character’s name:

I talked to my sister more. She is insisting on keeping my nephew’s name but is begrudgingly giving up on trying to get me to change it.”

“Honestly though, after all these comments comparing the name to Aslan and talking about how it’s hard to pronounce, I might shorten it to Ash in the book for simplicity.”

“She might feel like she had won, but I’m definitely going to take your guy’s advice and write a passive-aggressive dedication to her.”

“And for those wanting to read my book, it’s going to be at least a year before it’s published, but if you’re still interested, I’ll post about it here when it comes out.”

“Thank you for all the kind words and support; I really appreciate it!”

One can only be grateful that the OP and their sister have come to a resolution that will please them both.

Even so, it is shocking, to say the least, that the OP’s sister thought she could have an exclusive hold on any name, regardless of the circumstance.

She should consider herself lucky that the OP wasn’t angrier when they first learned of her choice of name.

Or that the OP hadn’t trademarked the name… as that would have made for some expensive permission slips…

Written by John Curtis

A novelist, picture book writer and native New Yorker, John is a graduate of Syracuse University and the children's media graduate program at Centennial College. When not staring at his computer monitor, you'll most likely find John sipping tea watching British comedies, or in the kitchen, taking a stab at the technical challenge on the most recent episode of 'The Great British Baking Show'.