Where do characters come from?

I've been asked a few times if the characters in my stories are based on real people. My answer is no, and that's not just because of the big ol' legal disclaimer at the beginning of Celia on the Run, stating all characters are entirely fictional and any resemblance to the living or the dead is entirely coincidental. Although I'm inspired by other people, their personality traits, the way they interact with others, I never ever "use" someone real as a character. It's much more interesting to me to create a character from nothing. I pulled Nick and Celia out of thin air, but I really tried hard to make them real and their story believable. That's the whole point of fiction, right? I do, however, allow bits and pieces of my past, or parts of myself, to appear in the background of the story. I don't think that's on purpose, it's just easier to get facts and details for a story when they're already floating around in your head. One example is that the college Nick Novaczek is supposed to attend in the fall is Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland. I could have chosen any college for him, but I chose one in Baltimore because I attended college in Charm City myself (but not at Johns Hopkins, like my dad). Another example of real details from my life creeping into this story is that the car Nick and Celia used to drive across the country (which belongs to Nick's parents) was a Ford Taurus. I've never owned a Taurus, it's not really an exciting or memorable vehicle, but in high school I carpooled with someone in a car very similar to the one described in the novel. Not exactly a big detail from my life, or important, but it happened to be the first car that popped into my head when I needed an average family car for Nick and Celia to drive. Funny how that works!

People around me, in my life currently, or formerly in my life, need not be afraid of appearing in my next novel. Now, if I find a really cool old suitcase at Goodwill, or eat some killer Indian Fry bread, I make no promises.