I tell my students, it's not difficult to identify with somebody like yourself, somebody next door who looks like you. What's more difficult is to identify with someone you don't see, who's very far away, who's a different color, who eats a different kind of food. When you begin to do that then literature is really performing its wonders.
But I always need to identify with a character to write about him or her - and by 'identify,' I mean see the world through that person's eyes and have a strong sense of the inner logic of their acts and decisions, wacky or wrongheaded though they might be. In that sense, I think there's some of me in all of them.
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