Everything I write has autobiographical elements. Even minor characters like Freddy, the doorman, or the farmer at the end of the story, began as composites of men I have known. A lot of writers, even writers I respect and admire, look down at this, or at least my admitting it. They ask, why write fiction if you want to write about yourself? But something magical happens as you filter personal experience through imagination and language: the composites become characters, and the scraps of lived experience morph, and what you end up with is wholly transformed. Frida Kahlo referred to herself as the great concealer—you could say she wasn’t painting herself, she was painting a series of masks.
The Book Bench: This Week in Fiction: Justin Torres : The New Yorker