Lessons from the Master

Studio 360
The World

Last week, Studio 360 revisited a lively conversation with Marlon James -- his novel The Book of Night Women is just out in paperback. All the main characters in the novel are women, and they're rendered vibrantly.

But it seems he didn't always have that talent. In the interview, James tells Kurt that after he finished his very first novel, a teacher told him he had real potential as a writer... but that he didn't have a clue how to flesh out believable women characters. His assignment: read Toni Morrison, especially Sula.

To my mind--and James's--Morrison is a master at creating beautiful, imperfect characters. I love, too, that she didn't start writing seriously until she was about 35. She went on to be the first African- American woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Here she talks about her late start, and what inspired her to write her first novel, The Bluest Eye.

Morrison talked about writing books for children on Studio 360 in 2003.

- Cary Barbor

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