I suppose most writers are the same. We use our own experiences to add reality to what we write. I know that I do.
Take The Darkest Walk for instance. That is my crime thriller set in Victorian England. The main character was James Mendick, a Criminal Officer who was sent to investigate a possible uprising by the working classes. When I wrote the book I deliberately gave Mendick a tragic past, based partly on a terrible experience of my own, for I knew how long the shadows of such events are, and the consequences on one’s mind. However, it was not until I re-read the book preparatory to writing a sequel, that I realised what other parts of my past were imbedded in both the plot and characters.
It was quite a revelation to see so much of myself there, raw and hurting or slipped into the words unintentionally as I wrote. I saw my own pain mirrored in Mendick, but there were also good friends that I had not realised I had included, hiding behind the gloss of historical characters. The novel was intended to be on two levels, the obvious one of a man’s quest for a criminal conspiracy, and the more shrouded concept of a man facing divided loyalties as he struggled between what was the law he had sworn to uphold and the concept of natural justice. I had not planned the third level that scoured my own soul.
As I read that book I wondered how many other novels are laced with personal hopes and tragdy, and how many are doors to the past of the author. It is an interesting thought that I will ponder on every time I read now.
Very best regards