I think we are trying to create a world in itself, a kind of universe. We want people to become involved with that world, and they do it in their relationships with these fictional characters. And sometimes their relationship can be surprisingly powerful, almost alarming. People pray for my characters.
Before moving to the New York City area, I lived in London for seven years. During that period, I traveled more than two dozen times to France, a place where five- or six-week vacations are the norm and many people retire comfortably at 60 or younger. I made many wonderful French friends and was more than a little awed at the way they aged so gracefully.