Caught Tom Wolfe on cspan2 last weekend. This may be Brian Lamb's last hurrah for booknotes.
Mr. Wolfe had lots to say. I posted an email q to him, but it was covered by another post. It was about guidance for life, or the lack thereof, at places of higher education. He didn't really answer the question, but many have said that his latest book is saying that there is none.
He said there was an intersection between social and psychological traits in characters.
His advice for first novelists: get a job, get out of the house! Steinbeck bought an old truck and traveled during the depression. You might get one novel done ok, but the next ones are usually too inward looking.
Here's the site: www.booktv.org