I'm still ironing out the manuscript for my most recent picture book, but sometimes creating the character and seeing them in action helps the words flow a little easier. I like to get to know my characters first anyway so I know who I'm writing about.
Character references can come from ANYWHERE... you just have to look up! I was in the Car Dealer Service area this morning with my children, and our daughter kindly pointed out that the gentleman across the room would be a great reference for the elderly character in the story. I love how children have an eye for things, but I'm not sure that the man in the corner would be as flattered if he heard her.