"If you read the interview I did with Kerrin (the one on her blog not mine) you'll see that some of the characters were inspired by people I know. This is very common for me to do and I have a character in mind based on a friend but I have realized that she will very possibly be killed off in book three (nothing set in stone yet, but I'm processing the possibility). It is a weird thing to say to a friend 'yeah I had an idea for a character that's rather you… but I think she dies in book three…' *hee*"
This got me thinking about what 'makes' a writer's characters. I've read plenty on a frustrating muse, plenty on how to get to know your characters and flesh them out, and plenty on how they lead your story. Laurell K. Hamilton, an author I've been reading more of recently, talks about how her characters almost literally tell her the story she writes down as she's writing it and derail her best laid plans constantly. I've personally experienced that once I have a picture of someone, they suddenly take on lives of their own. Other people, like Miss MacDonald, base their characters off people in their lives.
In a sense, I can see how this applies to some of mine. For instance, in the manuscript I'm serializing right now on The Fianna blog, there's a character named Helen Harper who loosely resembles the overbearing nature of my mom I experienced growing up and the devil-may-care, eternal teenager attitude of another mom I knew. Helen's daughter Lucy's family situation loosely resembles my own. Of course, nothing in my life involves hunting magical nymphomaniacs or homicidal ex-gods.
What would you say? Are your characters more along the lines of people in your every day life or are they a contrived mesh of seemingly random traits compiled into a single entity? Do you work with subjects you already have or play God and make up something completely different? Perhaps something in between?