All I can say is I never experimented with anything worse than magical mushrooms and opium. Wasn't a pill popper, never tapped the vein, never snorted anything other than the dust in Pixie Stix--stupid, I know, but thatís kids for you. I never even dropped acid. And the only real addiction I had was cigarettes, and that was only mental.
I wish I could say I knew about the masturbation thing because it makes me seem experienced and worldly and smart, but I added it because the detail seemed right; it seemed to add a layer and a texture and a specificity that made the experience real. I try my best to put myself in my charactersí skin, to feel what theyíre feeling, think what theyíre thinking, actually experience, via the imagination, what it would be like to be those people in those particular predicaments. Itís the best way Iíve found to make my characters as real and authentic as I can. The little details like the masturbation--they come as a result of this empathy.
And sometimes, if Iím lucky, those details ring especially true because they are. Those are some of the most rewarding moments for a writer, I think, gifts for opening your mind and your heart to the plights of other people.