At the end of Sharon's post, she suggested her experiences may become part of a story. I believe all fiction is at least part autobiographical. According to John Truby (Anatomy of Fiction), the theme is how the author believes the world should work. Right there you have deep personal involvement of the author in her story. But that's a topic for another day.
Our lives do seep into our stories--in language, what our characters value, and the details of life that allow our readers to suspend disbelief. My youngest son once said, "Mom, it's a little weird to see parts of my life in someone else's story." True but family life is too rich to not use.
While I don't use personal experiences verbatim, I certainly draw on my life experiences--but only when it's more interesting than usual, like Sharon's beasts. Almost always, anything from life has to be cranked up a notch to make it story worthy. (Before I forget, here's my pitch to keep a journal handy at all times. You never know when Spider Wars will commence.)
Here's an example of how a piece of my life made it into one of my books. In my Garden Gate series, Mibby is left a widow with a young son and an unfinished remodeling project. I know remodeling well. We've lived in our house for 24 years, and, well, I watch too much HGTV. This was a natural cross-over.
A few years back, we added on a master bathroom. I made sure I was showered and dressed each day of the project before 8 AM when the contractor and his minions arrived. I was running late one morning, but it was only 7:45, so I jumped in the shower. I had just worked up a lather of shampoo when I heard male voices outside the bathroom door.
My primal brain reacted quickly. I stepped out of the shower without rinsing or drying and stepped into my clothes, naked no more! I stood like a post, praying HARD the men would finish their business and go away. God, oh so graciously, answered my prayer within minutes. The contractor left with the subcontractor moments later.
Take note: I did not have to write this situation down. It was burned into my wee little brain, and I showered, from then on, by seven.
Back to Like a Watered Garden--when Droop (protag's contractor named for his low-slung jeans) needed to talk to Mibby (I know, another weird name), here's how my experience morphed into in Mibby's world:
I had just worked the shampoo into a lather when I heard the heavy rapping of knuckles on the bathroom door and a male voice calling my name. I turned off the water to listen.
"Is that you, Mibby? I'm back."
Suds flowed down my forehead. With my eyes closed, I stepped out of the shower and pulled on my shorts and T‑shirt before I felt decent enough to answer him. "Uh, Droop, I'll be out in a minute."
"I don't need nothing," he said. "I just didn't want to scare you again."
The shampoo stung my eyes. "Thanks, Droop. Thanks very much."
"No problem." His heavy boots moved away from the door and then returned. "Mibby?"
"We got a problem with the flooring."
A bubble of worry tingled along my spine. Whenever Droop had a problem, he fixed it and continued working. If we had a problem, it meant I would be spending a lot of money. Either way, I wasn't dressed to kill, or to think.
"I'll be right down."
People I know and love--or watch in restaurants--also make it into my stories. My sweet friend, Nancy, is the basis for Louise in the Garden Gate series. I gave Louise a Louisiana drawl and shaped her like an orange, but her heart is all Nancy.
I taught with Nancy. She made it her mission to slow me down and love me like crazy. One day, she stopped me in the hall (no kids around) and turned her back to me. With a twinkle in her eye, she looked over her shoulder and nodded to her bum. She asked, "Do these pants make my butt seem too small?" You can see how someone like Nancy needed to be fictionalized.These are pretty "light" examples. Most of my books address some burning question or fear I'm wrestling in real life, yet another topic for another day. How has your life made it into your stories? Tell us how you've drawn from the people you know to develop characters?