Fiction isn't all fiction. Writers have to put some of themselves into their stories, otherwise it wouldn't be realistic. The story itself doesn't have to be autobiographical, of course, but something in the story has to come straight from real life. Could be the setting, a protag's personality, or simply a few details from the writer's past that add verisimilitude to the plot.
As I'm writing Worm it's surprising how many personal memories surface and find their way into the text. Setting (1980s, small California farming town), personality (swimmer, big feet), details (playground fights, monkey bars). And although I never lived this story's theme of abuse and recovery, I find that writing about such issues taps my own reservoir of inadequacy, relational pain, and self-discovery.
Now with Ned Nbonivoy, my private investigator, and Stack, my ex-con vigilante I get to play hero a little bit. One drawback, though. It's kind of hard to be big and tough and heroic when you don't like guns (that would be me and Ned). Now I don't have any good reason to dislike firearms, but that attitude isn't very compelling - so Ned has a strong motivation to hate them. You'll have to read Simply Criminal to find out just what that is. <grin>
As for Stack, well, I'm not an ex-con nor a vigilante, but he's at mid-life, in a bit of a crisis career-wise, and that's definitely something I can draw on. Plus, he's had a religious experience and is hell-bent, albeit in his own stumbling, self-hating manner, to make good even if it kills him. Do I hear a witness?
So while I'm not Worm, or Ned, or Stack, I'm finding glimpses of each of them in the mirror. Or maybe vice versa. Has this happened to you either as a writer or reader? Ever create or discover a character that reminds you of you?