Most of us have heard the old saying, "Write what you know." That's great advice and I certainly followed it when I was writing REVENGE OF A BAND GEEK GONE BAD. While it's not an autobiography, I definitely incorporated some elements of my own life as a teen.
Like my narrator, Melinda, I'm a flute player. My first instrument was actually the piano, but I was being taught by my mom (who's an awesome pianist) and refused to listen to her. I never wanted to practice ... I was a horrible student. When I entered the fourth grade -- the year where we were taught to play band and orchestra instruments -- my grandfather (who was an awesome violinist) told me, "You're going to play the flute." I listened to him and fell in love with the instrument. I still love it and continue to play to this day.
Though my background is classical, I gradually switched over to jazz. In high school, I learned to play tenor sax so that I could be in jazz band and then tripled on flute/sax/clarinet in college. When I played pieces, I'd have them marked, "Measures 1-20, flute; measures 25-30, clarinet; measures 30-34, sax." It was fun, but very confusing! These days, I only play the flute, though I sometimes fool around on the piano. I like to tell people that I'm conversational in piano and fluent in flute.
Anyway, that's one big thing that Mel and I have in common: we both play flute and we're both passionate about music. We're both from Long Island, NY. Like her, I was a good student. I worried a lot about my weight (though I was a skinny kid ... and am NOT a skinny adult!). I was also pretty shy in high school as she was. But that's where the similarities end. My high school years weren't the best, especially since I considered myself to be kind of invisible, but I had a steady group of friends and was generally left alone. Mel has it much worse. She has a not-so-great relationship with her parents, she's bullied in person and online, and has a lot of anger. She really goes through a lot in my story, but comes out stronger and more secure in the end.
I also didn't have a Josh in my life. I had a lot of guy friends, but none who were so charming and naughty as he is. I'm not sure if it's a good or bad thing that I missed out on that!
So while I did base some of her life on mine, she became her own character and most of her experiences are unlike mine. Still, I could relate to many of her feelings -- her happiness at performing in front of a crowd or her loneliness at being an outsider. That's what "write what you know" is REALLY about; being able to use your reactions and feelings, even if what your character's life is different from yours.
Please check out and review my novel REVENGE OF A BAND GEEK GONE BAD.