Zane has been a fixture in erotic literature for well over a decade. She is best known for her best-selling novel, Addicted. In a time where talking about or expressing sexual desires was somewhat taboo in the African American community, she used her words to breakdown the barrier and not only made a name for herself but also became a legend. We chatted with her about sensuality, dealing with criticism and her legacy.
What inspired you to write Erotica?
“I never really knew I was writing Erotica. I am just a very detailed writer so the sex scenes are very detailed. When I figured out that’s what I was doing because other people were so outraged by it. I don’t understand why people act like sex should not be talked about. I mean, I know I got here because my parents had sex. After I published my first book, women reached out to me and were thanking me for being open about it. It was kind of a rebellious move for me because people were telling me not to publish Erotica. They were saying it would kill my writing career.”
Did you ever think that you would end up make a career out of it?
“Absolutely not. For 3 years I gave away my work for free on the internet. Then, there was a rumor going around that I had a book published but I didn’t. People kept contacting me asking where they could buy my book.”
You self-published your first book. What made you go that route as opposed to shopping your book to a major publisher?
“Some publishers were interested but they all wanted me to change my writing style. That’s when I decided to self-publish my [first]book.”
As an African American woman writing erotica, did you worry about how you or your work would be perceived by other African Americans?
“No. Criticism comes regardless of what anyone does in this life. I just do what I do. I don’t care what people think. So when you ask me how I deal with criticism…I don’t. I’m doing me.”
Why do you think there aren’t many African American erotic fiction authors?
“There are quite a few now but just like every other genre…the ones that have the staying power, stay.”
There are many women who believe that being expressive and open about sexuality does a disservice to other women. Do you agree or do you believe there is power in being aware and in control of your sexuality?
“There is power in it. I use sensuality because that is an area where they [women]usually feel least comfortable. But being able to be comfortable and confident with it…it can trickle down into other areas of their lives. We have natural needs. So many of us [women]have been brainwashed into thinking sex is just a vehicle to satisfy the man. Why can’t we enjoy it too?”
What are you currently working on?
“I’m completing ‘Vengence’ which is the 3rd book in the ‘Addicted’ series. I did a boot camp in May on writing and publishing because so many people ask me about writing.”
Were you surprised when Cinemax expressed interest in bring your stories to life on television or is that something you had planned to do?
“I’d said years ago that if someone took ‘Sex Chronicles’ to HBO, they would probably do it. [At the time,] I didn’t know anyone at HBO. Then, Cinemax [which is owned by HBO]decided they wanted to do an urban erotic series and they contacted me.”
What legacy would you like your work to leave behind?
“I don’t feel like I’ve totally created a legacy yet. I really want to make a greater difference in people’s lives but I want to do it on a global scale. Women here [in America], we have outlets. There are women in other countries that don’t.”
What milestone in your career thus far stands out as one of the most memorable?
“I haven’t hit that [milestone]yet. There are tons of things I want to do and I’m just getting started.”
Is there one career goal you have yet to accomplish that you’ve been dreaming of?
“One of my books has been turned into a movie. It’s the first movie coming out…first of many. It comes out March 14th . I’m working on more TV series as well. I definitely appreciate the accolades and such but there is so much more I want to do.”