I really like my characters. Years ago a few were based on people in my real life further and then influenced by characters in stories that I grew up with. As the characters in my books developed they started to depart from their original inspirations. The events of the story changed them. I supposed I started to inject more of myself into them, too. Over time they have gained their own identities, now existing apart from any initial antecedent. As they become more independent, I become more invested in my relationships with them. I like hanging out with them and writing is how I get to share time with them. For me, the best thing about writing is getting to be with my characters. Writing is how I get to watch them grow, struggle, persevere, succeed, fail, and be there for one another.