Starting with a real-life person, location, or event is always a good way to generate ideas for a story. Make sure you have the permission of the person you are interviewing to use and change their information. Ask questions that will get a person talking:
-Tell me about a time that you . . .
– Who was the most interesting person you ever met?
– What it like going to high school?
– What is the one thing for which you want to be remembered?
– What is the greatest lesson you ever learned?
People generally love to tell their stories. You should change the names in the story to protect those involved. It is also not a good idea to tell a story that is too personal or discloses information that might hurt someone else. As the author, you are responsible for your stories, even if they start out as someone else’s tale.
An example of this approach is the “DearAmerica” series, a group of books that develop a diary of a historical figure. The author researches the main character and the time period in which they lived. S/he then fills in the missing pieces in a way that creates a coherent and authentic story of a moment in the life of the central figure.