That's not the only thing in that book that has my little Natalie Stamp on it, of course. Fiona has an intense love of freckles, which I've always adored. She loves Pop Tarts, and I might have been the President of the Pop Tart Club my sophomore year of high school (But she likes blueberry ones, which I've never cared for.).
And then there's the Taco Bell scene, which is based off my brother's amazing ability to consume food. And the community pool is taken straight from the one I went to as a child. There's even one character I named because I love that name and my husband hates it, so I knew I'd never get to have a child named that.
To get a little deeper, I've always felt invisible, and on more than one occasion I've wanted to really be invisible. So writing a character that was literally invisible was a kind of nod to that part of me that always felt unseen, unwanted, and lost.
I think sometimes as authors we are afraid to admit how much of ourselves goes into a novel because then we'd get accused of the dreaded Mary Sue Syndrome (If you don't know what that is, it's when someone claims an author has inserted themselves into the novel and the story is basically wish fulfillment). Well, today I'm here to say, so what? Yes, there are many pieces of me in my books—how could it be any other way? How could I make my work stand out without using my unique voice and interests? If I didn't write about what I liked, what I wanted to explore, what I wondered about, what I was most scared of, how could I find passion in my work?
No, my characters are not me, per se, but they are certainly created out of the things I find interesting. They inherit problems I have always wished I could answer. They sometimes have my passions, and sometimes they have passions I wish I had. And, yes, sometimes they like things I don't know anything about. Those characters are punks, making me research like that.
I write about worlds and topics that suck me in—whether that be ninjas, mutated crime bosses, witches out for vengeance, or just a boy who is tired of being second best to his best friend. I focus on the aspects of those worlds that I would care about. I develop worlds based on my own experiences.
I'm not sure how else to do this writing thing. To me, it wouldn't be fun if I took myself completely out of the book, and I have a feeling the book would be flat as a result. When I'm writing about things I like—whether it's an anime club or magic or linguistics—I am happy. More than anything, I've learned that enjoying writing is one of the most rewarding things a writer can experience. Everything else is tainted if you're not having fun.