(e.g. politics, natural disasters, friendships)
I’ve put that second part of the question in the post so the topic isn’t too long…
I would have to say that my strongest influences would be a mix of my kids (I have 2 boys) as well as my own life. In many ways, writing fiction helps me work out and express feelings of my own life. For example, I’ve written a chapter book about a girl being bullied as a child, as I was. Writing this story was one way of sorting out my memories of this difficult time in my life.
My two boys also give me ideas and encouragement to keep going with my writing. Sometimes the ideas they come up with are even stranger than my own ideas… and somehow they seem to work really well. They also say and do things that can prompt an idea for a story.
Most of the fiction I write, other than fairy tales, is real life rather than fantasy or science fiction.