“Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works.” – Virginia Woolf
This quote says it all to me. It accurately describes the result of being an author – your soul and your experiences are woven into your works. I always find it interesting to listen to other authors talk about this very topic.
They are often asked: “Were any of these events/characters inspired by your life?”
The responses are usually very different, as well they should be. Just as your experiences are unique to you, the way in which you incorporate your soul and your experiences into your writing is unique.
Many authors agree that their personality traits and characteristics are a part of each of their characters. If you “know” a character, it is easier to write about the character.
Real life events or people may inspire the name of a new character, or a plot twist, or a street name (in the case of J.K. Rowling).
Either way, it is impossible for the author to keep himself/herself out of their own works. The author gives the story the “spark of life,” if you will, by weaving themselves into the story.