A question I often get when talking to readers is are your characters based on real people? Most of mine are pure figments of my imagination, thought admittedly they sometimes bear a few characteristics of people I have known. In my new book, The Good, The Bad and The Murderous, however, a central character in the story is a fictionalized version of a young man whose story appeared in the local press.
I modeled a character named Djuan Burden after him. Fortunately, the newspaper put an interview with the young man on it's website, giving me ideas for some of the dialogue.
The book opens with Djuan going into a medical equipment store to complain about a Medicare document showing his grandmother owed money on a power chair, which she didn't need and never received. He finds the owner of the store, which turns out to be a Medicare scam operation, shot in the head. He panics, knowing the police would never believe he wasn't the shooter, and flees.
None of the other characters in the book was based on a real person, but when I lifted Djuan out of real life (I even got the name Djuan from a male nurse in my doctor's office), it set the tone for the book. Instead of a story about Medicare fraud, it turned into a tale about police misconduct.
I've had a few other characters over the years based loosely on real people, but, with the exception of one in my first published novel, they all played minor roles.