I do mourn my characters. I wrote an essay once where I was sure that far back in a marsh there was a hummock - a little hill of hardwoods - and an old farm house, where all the heroines in my novels lived together with all my beloved dead dogs. I've discussed this with my therapist, naturally. He says it's okay in fair amounts.
As a child, I was an obsessive reader, as was everybody in my family all winter long with my father. I think I was only 8 when I read Edward Gibbon's 'The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.'
I don't feel tentative when I start to write. I've usually thought about a novel or novella for several years and created a lot of juice and density and energy by that time so by the time I get ready to go, I just let 'er fling, you know.
Your subconscious mind is trying to help you all the time. That's why I keep a journal - not for chatter but for mostly the images that flow into the mind or little ideas. I keep a running journal, and I have all of my life, so it's like your gold mine when you start writing.
Sometimes, I tell my wife I have to take a car trip and collect new memories - I like to drive around at absolute random for weeks on end through the United States and parts of Canada. Or else I feel trapped, like you feel when your life is completely planned for months in advance, and you think you're not getting enough oxygen.
The big curse of America, to me, is skinless, boneless chicken breasts. They're banal and relatively flavorless. The rest of the world's trying to get some fat to eat, and we're trying to ban it from our diet.
The trajectory started when I was on the roof of our house looking out at a swamp when I was 19. I had written for several years, starting at about 15, but that day on the roof I took my vows and acknowledged my calling.
Marriage is survived just on the basis of ordinary etiquette, day in and day out. Also cooking together helps a lot... I've seen all these marriages that failed. Those people are always hollering at each other. That doesn't work.