Now, I do have to tell my friends that even though I use their names, the characters themselves in no way represent the person. In my just released YA, The Awakening, one of my characters is named John. His name comes from someone I grew up with named Jon. He was really wild and tough. In the book though, John has allergies and can't fight. So, not my Jon, but just using his name makes me smile. And I hope it makes him smile too knowing that I was thinking of him.
Random events aren't safe either. I look back at my life as open season. When I write I include events that I remember happening, or at least imagined, growing up. When I'm writing about a school, I often picture my own schools and in my mind, the layouts match up. When I'm writing about something embarrassing, I often place myself in the shoes of my character and think about how I would have reacted, or actually use a real event.
As a writer, I am very observant of the world around me. It's true what they say, "Watch out. I'm a writer. You might end up in my book." I often see things in real life that beg to be included in print. And my kids, yep I listen to their conversations to see what teenage dialog is all about these days. I'm kind of like a pirate that way. Of course, they also like to read my rough drafts and groan.
What fun it is to be a writer? I am thankful for my gift of storytelling and imagination. - Dorine