I really believe we read differently when we know even the most banal facts of an author's life.
As any parent knows, part of your mind is always engaged - wondering and worrying that everything is okay and calculating all the stuff that has to get done in the course of a day. When the children are asleep in their beds, I can go where I really need to go in my head.
Certain things can't be approximated, so I'm always interested in getting in another way, one which makes the reader bend in closer to the scene even if that scene, especially if that scene, is painful... Brutal language isn't necessarily the most truthful way of describing a brutal moment.
I have a profound resistance to the idea that a reader could say, 'Oh, well, that's her story.' We should all be interested, no matter where we come from, or who our parents are. It's not my province; it's ours. These questions concern us all.
I've said this before - and I mean it strongly - an abstract concept or a moral issue has to be connected to feeling. If we don't believe it somehow viscerally, we don't really take it in.