Many times, as a writer, I get some of the same questions over and over again, so as an FYI, I'm going to start a list of the top 10 questions I get as a writer---and any of you fellow writers are welcome to join in and give me your input.
Question #1--- Are your characters real, based on someone, or what?
In a country over- populated with lawyers, that's a dangerous question. But I think that the bottom line is that all characters (at least with me, anyway) are a combination of so many things. For example, a character may have A's sense of humor with B's good looks but C's crummy marriage. Of course, as a matter of courtesy, legal issues, etc. you need to realize that while someone may "inspire" a character, that doesn't mean that they are based upon them, and you need to realize that--as Thomas Wolfe learned--basing characters too closely on people can still cause you inconveniences at the very least.
Personally, in the South, I don't think there's any shortage of inspiration for characters. I think it also should be noted that once you get these characters "started"-- they just kind of take on a life of their own...
Any other ideas? Comments?