The newest issue of Caliban Online includes an extensive, insightful (and at times quite funny) interview with Maxine Hong Kingston:
"When I'm writing, I'm just thinking and noticing the world. When I'm writing, it's a very difficult task for me to write it real, to make a character real. Their clothes have to be real. Their face and personality, their voice. The furniture has to be real, the trees, the ocean, railroad. I've got to write a real railroad. The work it takes me to write something real makes me realize what an illusion it all is. It's much, much later, after I've done a lot of writing and living, that I start to notice the Buddhists talking about 'reality' being an illusion."
(The interview starts on page 35 for quick search.)