I have a lot of people sharing my head space.
I don't know where other people get their characters, but mine, I swear, have been with me since I was born (like the eggs in my uterus – weird aside, did you know that girls are born with all the ova they will ever have? How strange is that?)
Take Sebastian, for instance. I've known his entire back story since I was, I don't know, maybe twelve. I pick twelve out of a hat because somewhere in there is about when my creative brain really started to mature. I always had imaginary friends, but I started writing about them and developing their stories in my late pre-teen years. One of the first vampire stories I wrote involved a slightly altered version of Sebastian. It was called "The Dark Gift" and I sold it (actually, I gave it away) to a 'zine called Nocturnal Ecstasy Coven.
I made a PDF version of it and uploaded it HERE, if you’re curious to read it.
I also started a couple of stories about Benjamin, his house ghost, which I never finished. I'd actually like to revisit them now and see if any part of them are salvageable. I find it interesting that even my earlier version of Sebastian had a thing for witches, as he’s dating one in both those stories as well.
One thing that has bummed me out is that, like any author, there are things about my vampires which I KNOW, but have never had a literary opportunity to explain or reveal. Like Parrish's back story. I allude to it in TDD, but I've never had a real opportunity to "show" it. This may also have to be fodder for a story for another day. Except I suck at period pieces, which his "making" would have to be, what with him being 200 years old.
Yet, unlike my ova, some characters just show up, uninvited. Matyas, Sebastian's son, did that (which is very in keeping with his character, don’t you think?) But, then again, so did William – although to be fair William is loosely based on people I know. I very rarely "crib" characters from real life, but when I do they're almost always an amalgam of several different people. I never lift someone wholesale from real life, because most people aren’t nearly weird enough to fit into my universe-- well, in my previous authorial life there was one exception. (You know who you are.)
One of my favorite parts of being a writer, actually, is that time just before I fall asleep at night when I get to bring out some of the people I've never written about and just play with them in my head. Only occasionally have I caused myself insomnia hanging out with my imaginary friends, and that was embarrassing because I was, at the time, desperately re-writing the entire prequel Star Wars trilogy. (No, I don't want to talk about it. But, yes, thank you, I'm over it.)
As a writer you never have to give up you imaginary friends. How much does that rule?