This question is frequently asked of authors. My answer is “They come from many places.”
My heroine in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series was inspired by three women: A female resident deputy I interviewed for a newspaper article, a female police officer and single mom who took me on a ride-along and shared a lot about her life, and a native Yokut who grew up on the reservation.
Tempe’s husband is a composite of the many pastors in my life—some are relatives.
Nick Two John’s appearance came another native Yokut. (He read Deadly Omen and called to tell me I got the Pow Wow right but didn’t mention recognizing himself.)
Over the years, I’ve held contests for people to have a character named after themselves. When I do this, the character in the book is always much different than the real person. My friends and now editor, Lorna Collins, won one of the contests, and her namesake has now appeared in three Deputy Crabtree mysteries as a ghost hunter.
Another friend and fan of the series pleaded with me to put her in a book I did, in Raging Water. Because the character has my friend’s looks and personality (as she wanted), I changed her name to Miqui Sherwood. When her friends read the book, they said I described her perfectly. She has since appeared in two more books, including the latest, End of the Trail.
Over the years I’ve met many interesting people, sometimes I borrow their personality traits to create a character or unusual appearance or way of dressing.
And often the character appears out of my imagination, especially the villains and the victims—though bits and pieces of real people might make up a part of one.
Over the years, I’ve heard of many ways that authors have created their characters, if you are an author, where do your characters come from?