We think it's a little cheeky for Martel to include himself as a character. In the novel, he's kind and earnest, considerate toward Pi and initially suspicious of Francis Adirubasamy. We love the author's presence, even though it both explains and complicates Pi's story.
For proof, check out the very first lines of the novel:
"This book was born as I was hungry." (Author's Note.1.1)
This later echoes: spiritual hunger drives Pi to various religions and gurus, and literal hunger drives Pi to action on the lifeboat.
And it also makes a strong statement: fiction, as a spiritual quest, precedes religion in this book. We are introduced to the confluence of fiction and religion at the very beginning of the novel, but the novel also ends with Pi's dialogue about the possible fiction of religion—that is, that a story that includes the presence of God is significantly better than a story without God.