Every writer gets this question in some form or other unless they keep their identity a secret. People want to know if you model the main characters in your books after yourself, or if you write romance, if the love interest is like your significant other. I think readers mostly assume there must be a high correlation, especially if you’ve done a good job of making the characters feel real.
The first time I was asked a version of this question was by my hairdresser. She’d just read VEILED MIRROR. “How much of you is in Beth?”
I tried using a great answer I’d once heard another author use: “There are elements of me in every character I write.” Apparently that answer works better with an impersonal audience than it does with someone who knows you pretty well. She just gave me the eyeball that demanded a straight answer. My hair was at her mercy so I complied.
Actually, my original answer was pretty close to the truth, as it would be for most writers I know, and readers should be very glad of it. It’s much better to think that some of the great villains of literature were developed from tiny elements of an author’s psyche, rather than being an accurate depiction of a significant part of our personalities. Who wants Hannibal Lector living next door?
As for heroes and heroines, some authors have a fairly consistent type, that makes it seem they’re writing about themselves. However, most writers work hard to make each character distinct and believable. That variety gives us the chance to explore situations we’d never want to be in, and do things we’d never do in real life. Sometimes the exploration is wish fulfillment. More often it’s just the author trying to craft a compelling and entertaining story.
So what did I tell my hairdresser? Pieces of Beth are me. As are pieces of Ellie. But mostly I created them for that story. OTOH, since DANGEROUS TALENTS started out as an experiment, Celia is probably more like me at the time the book was written than any of my other heroines are.
My heroes? Well, half of them are inspired by my husband. And the other half I just made up. 🙂