Interview: Zane

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Zane: I had led a double-life for more than five years. So, it’s really about me and how I led a double-life that my friends and family knew nothing about. In fact, my parents didn’t have a clue that I was Zane.

[Artist Interview]
 
Zane -not her real name- is the best-selling author of a plethora of African-American-oriented erotica, including Dear G Spot, Afterburn,
Gettin' Buck Wild, The Heat Seekers, Addicted and The Sex Chronicles, to name a few. 
This iconoclastic phenom has also edited or contributed to such other titles as Love is Never Painless, Caramel Flava, Chocolate
Flava, Best Black Women's Erotica, Brown Sugar 2, Twilight Moods, Dark Dreams, and Becoming Myself. Besides writing, Zane is the publisher of
Strebor Books International for which she is responsible for acquiring dozens of titles per year and currently has nearly 50 authors signed to
her imprint.
She serves as the moderator of PlanetZane.net, where thousands of her fans who call themselves "Zaniacs" converge on a daily basis to discuss
her work, as well as love and relationships. Zane has more than 35,000 MySpace friends and nearly 400,000 friends at BlackPlanet.com. Here, she
talks about "Zane's Sex Chronicles" the daring Cinemax television series loosely based on her own real life sexploits, which premiered on Cinemax
in October of 2008 and whose first season was recently released on DVD.
 
BSN: You have so many projects in the pipeline besides your erotica, like a line of cosmetics. How’s that coming?
Z: I actually have it all laid out. I have the logos done and am getting ready to place the first order. So, that’s pretty much done.

BSN: What about your plans to launch a line of sexual devices?
Z: With anything I do, I feel that if I’m going to be a bear, I want to be a Grizzly. So, while I definitely could launch that today, I want to make
sure it’s branded as my line of toys, and that takes a little bit longer. I don’t want to just jump out and start selling adult toys. There’s no challenge in that,
honestly.

BSN: I read that you’re also planning to produce several movies.
Z: That, I’m definitely working on. I already have the script for “Addicted” done, and it’s being line-budgeted. I’m working on another script now, and also on some
more television series.

BSN: Congratulations on the release of the first season of Zane’s Sex Chronicles on DVD. Did you like the way the book was adapted to the screen?
Z: I was very, very happy with it. From the beginning, my goal was to have the highest-rated show in Cinemax history. We laugh about that now because it was kind
of bold when I said it, but we actually achieved it. So, I couldn’t be more pleased.

BSN: What was the source of our inspiration for this steamy series?   
Z: I had led a double-life for more than five years. So, it’s really about me and how I led a double-life that my friends and family knew nothing about. In fact, my
parents didn’t have a clue that I was Zane.

BSN: With your father being a minister and your mother being a schoolmarm, how did they react to learning the truth that you were the best-selling author of all this
popular, graphic erotica?
Z: Their reaction was nothing like I expected. More than anything else, they were interested in understanding why I felt like I couldn’t talk to them about it. They
really had raised us to self-explore and to do anything we wanted to do, so they were very open about it. My father understood how he had raised me and, in his
opinion, sex is a very natural part of life, and how everybody got here. And he definitely understands the basic purpose behind what I do. It’s not just writing
about sex.  

BSN: Do you take credit for creating this whole movement of Black erotica?
Z: There was already an underground movement of black erotica. And I didn’t start out to write erotica. This wasn’t anything that was planned. I just started writing
short stories for self-entertainment when I was living in this little hick town in North Carolina. One night, one of my friends handed me a story to read that was
being circulated around at the factory where she worked. It turned out to be one of mine somehow. That was when I realized I was kinda on to something.

BSN: Why did you start out self-publishing?
Z: Several publishers offered me book deals, but all of them wanted me to change my writing style. In fact, I never even intended to put out a book. By the time I
published The Sex Chronicles in May of 2000, I couldn’t even print them fast enough. The same thing happened with Addicted in August of 2000, which is when the New York Times called it the hottest paperback in the country. After that, Simon and Schuster came back and agreed to sign me as is. 

BSN: How would you describe your books? As erotica? As romance? Are they aimed at a specific audience?
Z: A common misconception is that my books are about sex. I think my books are really about life. The sex is literally the last thing I write when composing a
book. I write the rest of it first, and then go back and fill in the sex scenes. Even with the TV series, I believe my readers appreciate and really get into the
character development. So, my stories are really about life and different issues people are dealing with. And they aren’t aimed at a specific audience.

BSN: You’re a single woman, I suppose that when you’re dating a guy who knows you’re Zane, he must feel a certain amount of performance anxiety.
Z: Frankly, yes.

BSN: What are your goals when you write a new story, characters, morals or making the story sexier?”
Z: The first two are my priority. The sex scenes are very easy. To me, sexuality is just a part of normal everyday life. I concentrate much more on the morals and
character development than anything else. Getting my message across is what really matters to me. I get letters from women who express that they realize that there are
good men who exist, and that they don’t have to just settle, and that maybe they should expand their options and what they define as a good man.

BSN: Irene also asks, given your success as an author, having your own imprint, and with the TV series, where do you want to go next as an entrepreneur?
Z: My goal for this year is to delve deeper into movies and television. In addition to that, I’ll be starting a Zane-branded music label, because music has always been
an important part of my life, and I like to do things I’m passionate about. Music in many ways defines who I am today. Prince is almost single-handedly responsible for
my being sexually uninhibited. And I write to music. So, music, in many ways, has defined me.

BSN: Does Tiger Woods have a sexual addiction, because he allegedly had multiple sexual partners outside of his marriage, or do you think the rehab is a ploy to repair his previously pristine image?
Z: Technically, I have no idea. But I have noticed that a lot of cheaters automatically claim to be a sex addict as an excuse. In his case, I really don’t know. Without knowing him, I couldn’t possibly respond to that question. If he were single, it wouldn’t be a big deal.

BSN: Reverend Thompson also asks, why do you think so many professional athletes are perpetrators of domestic violence and how do we overcome domestic violence in the African-American community?
Z: One thing we have to do is face it head-on, and it’s interesting she should bring that up because one of my offices is just publishing a powerful book called My
Darkest Hours, written from the perspective of a man who admits to being an abuser.

BSN: The good Rev was wondering whether there’s always price of pain to pay for love.
Z: I think there is. Love does require a degree of sacrifice on the part of both people.

BSN: How old are your children, and do they know that you’re Zane 
Z: Yes, they do. They’re 6, 15 and 22. But nobody at my daughter’s high school knows that I’m Zane. And until recently, when I did The Mo’Nique Show, nobody at my
daughter’s school knew. But a secretary recognized me.


 

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