Student A: Where do you get your ideas?
TLT: Everywhere and anywhere, often from research which is a constant for me. I subscribe to three daily newspapers and often spot an idea a day. I collect menus, read English papers in foreign ports. I have three red cabinets of possible story ideas.
Student B: Where do your characters come from?
TLT: The major ones come from real life. Why invent them when so many are around?
Student C: How much research do you do?
TLT: A tremendous amount. I researched The Flight of Jesse Leroy Brown for a year before I put a single word on paper.
Student D: How many drafts do you usually write?
TLT: Four or five complete rewrites. On one book, The Children's War, I did 14 drafts and although the book was well reviewed I still don't like it. I could not get the Eskimo character down right.
Student E: Do you ever use members of your family or any of your friends as characters?
TLT: Quite often. I know them, after all. I tell them beforehand that I'm naming them. No one has objected as yet.
Student F: How much money do you make?
TLT: That's between my tax preparer, myself and the IRS. I confess to making an adequate amount.