One year ago today Quincy IL had a storm of such magnitude that we lost thousands of trees and that many homes and/or cars were damaged. There were so many homes and buildings hurt that some haven't been repaired yet. We had straight line winds that equaled a Category 1 hurricane. Amazing here in tornado country.
I keep thinking I'll put an incident like this in one of my books set in Quincy, but haven't found the right way to do it yet. I often put "real life" things in my books. For example, Book Two (Any Meat in That Soup?) had a murder take place in the ER of a hospital. It was loosely based on the Mike Swango incidents that happened many years ago. However, there was no Mike character and other things were different. Those attempted murders in real life inspired me to write of some real ones.
Other things that come from reality: The Darling siblings resemble mine in many ways. However, there are more Bozarths than Darlings. And we're more sarcastic, and dare I say more fun? We also drink more.
In several of my books there are real names of people, but those are used either at their request or I've asked permission.
In my latest book, Who's the Rogue? the leading man is named Wes Friday. Wes is actually a very talented actor in our area, and he asked if I'd use his name when I stated that I thought it would be an excellent fictional character. In that same book, the director Branson Barkley is an extremely unflattering caricature of our real director—Brandon Thomsen. What they have in common is talent, and that's about it. The real director is much kinder.
There are a few more examples, but overall my characters are not based on real people. They might be an amalgam of several or even many people—a nose here, a mannerism there, a way of speaking, many things go into creating a believable character.
Except George. Sigh. He's just the guy I want to meet. Sigh again.