Good book authors stare at people a lot. Scenery, too. Events, as well.
A good author pries. Asks lots of questions. Irritates those around him sometimes with way too many questions.
A good author listens. Not only does she ask questions, she listens to the answers.
A good author eavesdrops. Listens to conversations on the subway, in the street, at a restaurant, in a coffee shop.
A good author is very observant.
If you are near a good author, you will inevitably end up in one of her books in some way. Perhaps as a simple bystander in a story. Perhaps as an example. Perhaps as window dressing. Perhaps as the heroine or hero. Perhaps as the menace.
Great book authors borrow content all the time. They stare. They pry. They listen. They eavesdrop. And they invent.
Stare. It is the way to educate your eye, and more. Stare, pry, listen, eavesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long. — Walker Evans, photographer