I knew that my dollhouse was a toy, but in a way, it seemed more like a portal to adulthood. I didn't play with it the way I might with my Barbie dream house. Instead, I furnished it. I kept it pristine. I decorated the house for each season. I had jack-o'-lanterns in the fall and a Christmas tree with working lights in the winter.
Character development is what I value most as a reader of fiction. If an author can manage to create the sort of characters who feel fully real, who I find myself worrying about while I'm walking through the grocery store aisles a week later, that to me is as close to perfection as it gets.
When I was growing up, for example, everybody on our street was Irish. And all the girls did Irish step dancing. It was pre-Lord of the Dance - it was before anybody knew what gillys were - but we did, and there was such pride among the members of my family and people I grew up with.
The hardest part about writing fiction is finding long stretches of time to do it: for me, this means writing mostly on Saturdays and Sundays. But I am always thinking about my characters, jotting down ideas in stolen moments and hoping I'll be able to make sense of them when the weekend rolls around.