Anyone who knows an author has probably asked at some point, are you talking about real people. Did that really happen? When I had my recent tour of the FBI headquarters in DC and Quantico, I had the pleasure of joining two FBI ladies (our tour guides) for dinner one night. They asked about my novel, and I described it. When I finished, one of the ladies asked, "Is this something we should be investigating?" I had to assure her it was fiction.
The next day on my tour, I ate lunch with a cyber official at a large electric company. He was a fellow FBI Citizens Academy Alum. Writers pick people's brains routinely when the opportunity is ripe. I needed to know how some homeless teenagers might be able to get electricity to the abandoned church where they were squatting. He gave me several ways, but as he spoke, he became more tentative about providing information for an illegal activity. The Alum next to me knew I am a writer. He smiled and nodded to me. "I don't think he's getting that what you're describing is fiction," he said, and then we untangled my fiction from the electricity official's facts.
It's an odd world writers live in. My characters are always alive in my head. They make me laugh or make me cry at times, but once I create them, they never die even when they die in my novel. When I talk about them or a scene in a novel, it is real to me, and I'm invested in making it real to readers.