Here's a link to a newspaper interview with Toni--10 reader questions answered. Certain topics are less interesting than others (eg the Bill Clinton conversation), but some of the highlights for me:
How did you discover your passion for writing? —Roderick Yang, Seattle
My deepest passion was reading. At some point—not early, I was 35 or 36—I realized there was a book that I wanted very much to read that really hadn't been written, and so I sort of played around with it in trying to construct the kind of book I wanted to read.
Do you think that young black females are dealing with the same self-acceptance issues today as your character was in The Bluest Eye? —Francesca Siad, Calgary, Alta.
No, not at all. When I wrote the book, the young women who read it liked it [but] were unhappy because I had sort of exposed an area of shame. Nowadays I find young African-American women much more complete. They seem to have a confidence that they take for granted.
My 15-year-old daughter lives to write. What advice do you have for aspiring writers? —Darren Wethers, St. Louis, Mo.
The work is in the work itself. If she writes a lot, that's good. If she revises a lot, that's even better. She should not only write about what she knows but about what she doesn't know. It extends the imagination.