Alan Refkin, author two published books in the Matt Moretti-Han Li series, reveals to his readers the evolution of the name, Matt Moretti he chose for one of the main characters:
I wanted the protagonist to have an Italian ancestry as I love Italy. I’m not only fascinated with its history but admire the lifestyles of those who reside there. Also, and not inconsequentially, my grandparents, Anna and Calogero Bruno, immigrated to the United States at the age of nineteen from Siculiana, a small town in the province of Agrigento, Sicily.
In selecting this surname, I first searched for the most common Italian names. Number eighteen on one list was “Moretti.” My wife, Kerry, who is a muse on these types of details, and I immediately liked how that sounded. From there, I delved deeper into its origins. I discovered that Moretti was believed to be derived from the Italian word Moretto, which refers to dark hair, as well as Mauro, a popular first name, which was itself derived from the Latin name Maurus. This is often referred to as a patronymicsurname, which is created from the name of the bearer’s father or relative. Over time, beginning around the Middle Ages, these names became hereditary surnames.The earliest use of the Moretti surname was found in Modena in 1179. I should mention that Italian surnames have regional variations. If one lives in northern Italy the surname will normally have a suffix of “i.” The typical suffix for a resident of southern Italy is generally “o.” This is the reason that, in The Archivist, Matt Moretti’s mother grew up in Trento, a city in northern Italy that was formerly part of Austria and the location for the Council of Trent.
That answers the question about how the name Moretti was selected. What about the first name of the first name of the character as Matt? I wanted something that synced well with this surname. I almost chose Jack, but there were so many action characters in novels with that first name that I shied away from using it. Therefore, I went down a list of first names and married them to Moretti, seeing how the pairings looked and sounded. The result was Matt. Matt Moretti.
In January of 2020, I received an email from Matt Moretti! What a surprise this message was and as it turns out, he’s a law enforcement officer who wrote to ask me how I selected this name. We communicated by email and I explained how my choice of the character’s name came about. As a result, I think I may have another avid reader of the Matt Moretti-Han Li series.