Zane: Up Close and Personal with the No. 1 Author of Erotic Novels
Holloway, Lynette R., Ebony
"Quinton got me totally undressed and then removed all his clothes as well. The neon sign at the hotel across tire street was blinking steadily, and flashes of red outlined his body as Ire stood at the foot of the bed ..."
--Excerpted from Addicted
IT is hard to believe that these words were penned by Zane, a self-described boring mother of three who lives in suburban Maryland.
"Everyone is surprised when they meet me," says the author, who is modestly dressed like, well, a mother, in black jersey pants, a v-neck blouse and a cascade of curls atop her head. "It's like people expect to meet a go-go dancer or something. My life is boring. I grocery shop, cook, clean the house, and attend soccer games and PTA meetings."
But as millions of readers are discovering, there is nothing boring about the 38-year-old writer when she steps into her imagination and assumes the exotic nom de plume Zane. (She refuses to reveal her real name.) Not only did she author the titillating lines from the novel Addicted, the story of a successful African-American businesswoman who becomes a sex addict, she has churned out a series of bestselling erotica noir. Most recently she wrote Afterburn, the story of two hapless lovers who get lost in a dating game gone awry, and Skyscraper, the story of how the lives of four people interconnect before a Christmas party. In addition, she recently published Breaking the Cycle, a series of stories about the impact of domestic abuse on children.
But it's the steamy plots that have held the winning formula for Zane.
In the last four years, she has published nine books, selling more than 3 million copies to readers across the globe. Her sex stories have dominated national and international bestseller lists, including a coveted ranking in the New York Times.
The soft-spoken Zane recently took time from her busy writing schedule to reveal to EBONY why she started to write about sex. She also chatted about her family's response to her "dirty little novels" and tried to shatter the myth of dysfunction between African-American men and women, and to discuss her views on love and sex.
"Love can exist without sex, and sex can definitely exist without love," she says. "However, when both are present, it heightens the experience. Too many people equate the two. Many people pressure other people into having sex to prove that they
Zane says that she began writing about sex by accident, and had always imagined herself writing children's books or mysteries. At the time, she was a single mother, selling life insurance in North Carolina. To ward off boredom after putting her children to sleep, she found herself at the keyboard at night, tapping out wicked sex stories.
"I wrote one story called First Night and sent it to a few friends," she recalls. "Then the madness began, and before I knew it, I had written 50 stories, had tens of thousands of people subscribing to my Internet newsletter, and bad penned Addicted in a mere 19 days because I was feeling the main characters so much."
She went on to say that she caught a lot of tack from established authors, who warned that she would hurt her chances of becoming a writer by writing erotica. "But once I got into it, I knew it was my calling," she says. "Women deserve great sex, and since most of us will have sex at some point in our lifetime, it is a shame not to capitalize on the act as much as possible. Men never hesitate to tell a woman what they want. Women need to learn to speak up and do the same."
Zane says she tries to impart moral lessons in each of her stories, with liberation as the underlying premise. Many of her characters are strong, take-no-prisoner-type women who learn hard lessons by the end of the story or book. "I write about sex," she says, "because we freed our bodies from slavery a long time ago, and now it is time to free our minds. …