Readers often ask if my mysteries are based on real-life crimes or circumstances. My answer is that my imagination provides the plots, so actual cases are not necessary. I don't use people I know as models for my characters, but I do use snippets of overheard conversations and strangers who grab my attention. Some of my own feelings, experiences, and passions are given to my main characters.
But some writers add fiction to the truth, creating an even better story. An actual crime, adventure, heartwarming story, or heroic gesture in a magazine article, newspaper, or blog can be captivating, but readers are only provided limited view points. A good fiction writer can take that situation and delve deeper the story, using multiple points of view, a more compelling background, and a wider range of other emotions like suspense, thrill, fear, or humor-something a reporter or nonfiction writer might not do.
I've also read the excellent biography, Manderley Forever: A Biography of Daphne du Maurier. Author Tatiana de Rosnay's book has received raved reviews, but it was Rebecca, the fictional account of an obsessively jealous and fearful wife, that sold almost three million copies. I'm not as bold as Du Maurier to use my private life in a story-but then she's sold a lot more books than me. So maybe I'll rethink this.