I steal them. :D
Eh, a bit more seriously, yeah, often I get inspired by other fiction.
The first non-fan-character I made up was a werewolf, and that was definitely influenced by The 10th Kingdom. I dropped the whole "losing control of oneself/becoming an indiscriminate killer" thing, but something about Wolf's enthusiasm just grabbed me. The character in question, Gren, grew more quiet over time, actually.
With Daaren, I can point to one or two panels in a comic. It was mostly mood/attitude, but also sorta-kindof hair. XD
"What kind of character do I need here to play off the others I already have in that setting" played into it, too.
With Sylvie it started with "I want to write a wizard who does NOT create sparkly lights and fling fireballs" - also inspired by other works, only in the other direction. I suspect there's some "Theory of Cool in Literature" involved there - to me, creation is cooler than destruction.
What she is specializing in certainly has to do with Elfquest, and her original colour scheme was pretty much lifted off Leetah (minus the red top).
Nico's outgoing nature is, honestly, wish-fulfillment. :P
The idea of her brand of immortality is based on Riverworld.
And then I go and make up more details, going from questions like
- I know X about their personality, what could be part of their background that explains this, or at least fits with it well? (Gren and Marrik are both pretty easy-going, suggesting to me that the area they grew up in is peaceful and prosperous, at least relatively.)
- I know Y about their background, what consequences does that have for their personality/attitudes/etc.? (If Nico "respawns" after dying, what is she afraid of? One category is "anything that might break this and nail her down in one place permanently" - e.g. contagious undead, such as vampires.)
- I know Y about their general background, what does that entail exactly/what other details fit with it? (I know Sylvie's a mage, so how did she learn? Self-taught, fairy gift, apprenticeshipt, school? I went for school.)