There are several books that left a lasting impression on me. If the book was really good, finishing it came with a weird sadness. I had rushed to get through it because I had to know what was next. Then came the regrets. Maybe if I had stretched it out a little longer, I would remember more. It's like sitting down to a favorite piece of cake. I grabbed the smaller piece so I wouldn't feel sick from gorging myself, but now it's gone and I'm pressing my thumb into the crumbs so I can get every last morsel. (Yeah, don't look at me like you've never done that when no one was watching.) Once it was over, I couldn't help but wonder if my favorite character was based on the author's close friend or a lover. It brought me hope to think someone so awesome existed in the world. Now that I've been writing for a while, I no longer ask those questions.
Taking people straight from this world and putting them in fiction doesn't work very well. First of all, if we're writing from a character's perspective, we're expected to know them so well that we can see into their brains. I have yet to meet a real life Sookie Stackhouse, so I'm putting this in the "not possible" category. If authors base characters on real people, they're still manipulating them like giant puppeteers, steering them through dialogue and action. Second of all, if we were true to our friend's character, the person on the page may not be interested in taking the action needed to get them on the hero's journey. Maybe they are perfectly happy with their day job and don't need to jump from the platform at a train station onto a moving car to save the woman shrieking inside. Most people would call 911 and consider their civic duty met. Third, and most importantly from this author's perspective, if the character rendition is particularly life-like and the person on the page does something unflattering, you've just pissed off a friend.
My characters are based on a blend of people, fictional and real. Their personalities are suited for the journeys they have to travel, although I like them best when they're flawed. The most believable characters, in my mind, are the characters who do what they have to do despite wanting to do anything but what they have to do. There are heroes who spend their days looking for an opportunity to prove to the world what they already know: they are meant to save people. The heroes I love writing and reading about are the people who have to decide that they'll attempt the impossible, and it's only because it's the right thing to do - not because they want the world to know they were brave when it really counted.
Are your characters based on real people? Have you ever encountered an awkward situation because the character was a little too true to form?