I’m often asked how I choose the names of my fictional characters. In the case of The Able Archers, people have asked me how I chose the names of the two protagonists, the American Kevin Cattani, and the Russian Ivan Levchenko
I chose Kevin Cattani’s name for the following reasons:
- My own first name is Celtic. My last name (Morra) is Italian and it’s also a common name in Spain (Mora). I chose Kevin as the American officer’s first name due to its Celtic origin and to honor a first cousin of mine, Kevin Pecca, who died at age 41. He and I were born a few days apart and we were close as children.
- The surname Cattani honors my maternal grandmother (also Kevin Pecca’s grandmother). Cattani was her maiden name. She was Luxembourgish. Her father, Jean-Baptiste Cattani, was from an established bourgeois family in Nice, France. Monsieur Cattani was a mining engineer who was hired by my great-great grandfather to manage mines in southern Luxembourg. Cattani married his boss’s daughter – my great-grandmother. My family still has ties with our cousins in Luxembourg.
I chose Ivan Levchenko’s name for the following reasons:
- I thought it would be a relatively easy name for English-speaking readers to navigate.
- His first name – Ivan – is ‘easy’, as are his Russian and Ukrainian diminutives (Vanya and Vanko, respectively).
- The surname Levchenko is the surname of a Soviet defector I knew and worked with in the mid-1980s. He began his career as a GRU officer and transferred to the KGB. He was fluent in a couple of Asian languages. My Levchenko is fluent in several European languages. Like my character, the real Levchenko had reddish hair and often sported a red moustache.