Think of the lawyers who write legal thrillers. They put bits and pieces of themselves in their book. They write from their experience and knowledge. What they know goes into the story. They may even base their protagonist on themselves or on friends or acquaintances.
I'm an ex-mermaid who wrote a book, Angel Sometimes, with a protagonist who is a mermaid. The character, Angel, is very different from me. But the things she does as a mermaid -- ballet moves under water, picnicking underwater -- those things are from me. In effect, I taught her how to do those things. I taught her how to eat and drink underwater, how to do synchronize ballet. On the other hand, there are a lot of differences between us. I swam at a resort, Aquarena Springs. Angel swims at a bar/restaurant. I was in an open environment. She's in a closed one. If something went wrong when I was in a show, I had three escape routes. If something goes wrong in the tank, Angel has only one way out. My show area was huge. Angel's is much smaller.
The list could go on, but you get the idea.
While you don't want to put yourself into your book, you undoubtedly will put your knowledge, research, and experiences into your book. It may be only bits and pieces. Or it may be bigger chunks. It only works, though, if it fits in with the story and it fits your character in the book. Swimming as a mermaid fit Angel because she was in the 6th grade when she was abandoned to the streets. It doesn’t take a degree to swim as a mermaid. The base requirement is that you can't be afraid of water.
How do you feel you've put yourself into a book?
Helen Ginger is an author, blogger, and the Coordinator of Story Circle Network's Editorial Services and writing coach. She teaches public speaking as well as writing and marketing workshops. In addition, her free ezine, Doing It Write, which goes out to subscribers around the globe, is now in its fourteenth year of publication. You can follow Helen on Twitter or connect with her on Facebook and LinkedIn. Helen is the author of 3 books in TSTC Publishing’s TechCareers series, Angel Sometimes, and two of her short stories can be found in the anthology, The Corner Cafe. Her next book, Dismembering the Past, is due out in Spring 2013.