I was asked the other day where I got my ideas for my books. I hadn't thought about that in a long while as my writing just seemed to "happen" without specific triggers. But it was a good question and I had to answer it.
Everywhere. Most all the characters in my books are based, to some degree, on real people know or have known. I think every writer is a keen observer of the worlds around her, and the people she meets every day. As a former high school teacher, I may have had more contact with different kinds of people on a daily basis than some, however. On a daily basis, if I taught my usual class load of six classes a day with perhaps 20 students in each class, that meant 120 encounters each day. (Most of the time I had classes with more students in them but I averaged for the sake of the blog.) Then I might, on that same day talk to twenty other teachers, school secretaries, custodians, school administrators, guidance counselors, parents and the dozens of students I might meet while on hall duty or just traveling around the building.
Did you every count the number of people you meet every day? I'd wager if you took the time, you'd be surprised. But we writers just don't count, we notice. We listen, we remember mannerisms, see postures, note clothing, and all the details of the people we meet. All those memories bury themselves in our brains and one day become the characters in our stories.
One day with a class of difficult students might lead to a whole chapter in a book. An hour standing in line at the supermarket might be the core of a short story. A teenager's dream of adventure could become a novel.
The real world around us is already full of stories. All writers do is pay attention and put them down on paper in our own unique ways.