2. How many characters do you have? Do you prefer males or females?
I have hundreds. Probably. I've never counted, but with several dozen novellas and novels, it's got to be a pretty high number. And since I write het romance, I'd say it's probably about even, genderwise (that was kind of an odd question actually). I suppose what I could say is that since I write for a mainly female audience, my main protagonist is usually female, but quite often it's the hero of the story who takes over.
3. How do you come up with names, for characters (and for places if you’re writing about fictional places)?
Sometimes they just name themselves. Kett was always just named Kett. I don't know where it came from, but it feels right for her: a short, blunt syllable, unfancy, and yet it half reminds me of a bird--probably a kestrel, exotic and untameable. Which pretty much sums up Kett.
Sometimes I pick a name on purpose. Luke Sharpe, for instance. Firstly, I just fancied the name Luke (think I'd been reading the Shopaholic novels at the time), and secondly it has a sharp, acute sound to it. Ditto his surname, quite obviously; and thirdly I like the pun it makes.
Sometimes they take a little renaming, as with Sophie Green herself, who was originally called Sally. That didn't suit her properly, but Sophie fitted better. Her surname was chosen at random as something prosaic; only late did I realise it was a comment on her naivete. Er...I mean, I meant it from the start.
Sometimes I can't find a name, which is damnably annoying since I find it hard to write a character if I don't know what they're called. In these cases I poke around the internet, try Behindthename.com where you can search for the meaning of a name, as well as searching names from various countries, cultures or myths.
Place names are fun. The thing is you can make up whatever you like, especially for English places where we have towns and villages that sound like people's names (Wooton Bassett springs to mind, and Saffron Walden), like people's names in Lord of the Rings (Heaner & Loscoe), like medieval diseases (Maggot End, Nether Wallop), and occasionally like hairdressers (High Barnet). Hours of fun.
I named Turnbury in Hardest of Hearts because I wanted a name that suggested change, but also something sinister. Plus, it's quite literal: if you're turned into a vampire there, Emma will bury you.
For made-up universes, I tend to create names that fit with the general characteristics of the place. Sometimes I borrow real names, and sometimes I adapt them. For instance, the Realms universe has a Realm that's quite European called Euskara, and a Realm that's cold and icy, called Zemlya.