Writing that pulls from experience is realistic writing; that which doesn’t is not. At least that’s how I try to operate. The hard part of course is figuring out how I’m supposed to talk about things I haven’t experienced or places I’ve never been. It’s also pretty fun when you come up with your own strategies for doing this effectively.
The Ossiric League only exists in the book but I did go to Germany for a month after high school, where you can still enter towns through gates that withstood sieges in the Thirty Years’ War. Some of the other locations were specifically inspired by places I’ve been but most came about as a result of mashing together all the many things I find interesting. Even more haven’t ever been described, only drawn and labeled on the map. For those locations that Matthieu doesn’t visit (and he visits quite a few) there can always be more stories.
Characterization is another area where things tend to get personal. I’ve already discussed Matthieu’s flaws and how the difference between depth and Mary Sue territory lies in what consequences are assigned to the character’s actions. As much as I want to avoid directly pulling from someone or something I know to create the story (not for the same reasons as in Inception, though) it sometimes happens.
I wouldn’t say this happens to the point where someone could find themselves in here in relation to me. However, I would say that many of Matthieu’s questions and thoughts aren’t all that foreign to my own. Among these are the recurring clash between determinism and free will; the quest for the utopian ideal; cycles of violence throughout history; religious sectarianism in society; and problems of effective governance and leadership. I don’t claim to have answers for all these, nor does Matthieu. What is true is that I’ve had most of these thought processes myself at one point or another. The important thing is to always be on the lookout for new information and adapt accordingly. It’s what I try to do and what I try to have Matthieu reflect as the series continues.