In 2000, when I was a book editor at Random House, we were noticing a strange (to them) and exciting (to me) event: the proliferation and salability of Black books—among them, self-published erotica by an author known only as Zane. The success of Zane’s Addicted and The Sex Chronicles informed commercial publishers there was an audience for urban fiction and urban erotica. Without question, the success of those books opened the doors for other authors in these genres.
Today, Zane’s a New York Times bestselling author of 30 books, and publisher of her own Strebor Books imprint (under Atria/Simon & Schuster). Zane gained even more recognition for her 2008 Cinemax series, Zane’s Sex Chronicles. Tonight, Cinemax premieres Zane’s The Jump Off, of which she’s the creator, scriptwriter and executive producer. EBONY speaks to the erotica mogul about her world domination.
EBONY: How are you so prolific? When you started, you self-published, -distributed and -promoted your books holding down a full-time job and being a wife and mother. Now you edit and publish anthologies, write and promote your books and executive produce your shows.
Zane: Pimping and parenting ain’t easy! Just kidding. It all comes down to the ability to multitask, the determination to get things done and a lot of self-discipline. I publish 36-60 books per year by other authors. We have eight books coming out in April 2013 alone. I am able to do so much because I am so passionate about writing that it is my escapism, entertainment and my personal evolution all rolled into one.
EBONY: Zane’s The Jump Off is airing five years later than Zane’s Sex Chronicles. Is there any reason for the five-year gap, and how do they differ? Was there a learning curve? Also, how was the transition from writer to producer?
Zane: Wow, has it really been five years? Time truly does fly. I wrote and produced Zane’s The Jump Off in 2011, but we had to wait for a time slot. Like everything in life, there was a learning curve. There is a huge difference between being a writer and being a producer. Writing is a very solitary career. A producer deals with roughly 100 or more people (cast and crew) 14 hours a day, six days a week for a couple of months. With Zane’s Sex Chronicles, I broke ground with the first erotic series about women of color. And now, I am breaking ground with the first series—erotic or otherwise—focused on men of color and their bond with each other and their women.
EBONY: What can your audience expect from this new series?
Zane: Zane’s The Jump Off is about five Sigma Omega Kappa fraternity brothers in their 30s who live in Miami, Florida. Dmitri Vance, a.k.a. Lightning, is also known as the Jump Off. A single NFL quarterback for the Miami Glades, he is infamous for jumping over the defensive line of the opposing team into the end zone and running two women at the same time: Brenda and Lauren. He also owns a nightclub called The Jump Off that is managed by Fenwick “Woody” Wood.
Woody’s wife, Kenya, is a pilot who flies corporate jets. Gabriel Turner is a financial advisor and the oldest of the crew. He pledged them all and is married to Aspen, the editor-in-chief of the local newspaper. Spencer Martinez is the co-host, with Nandi Carter, of The Other Side of the Pillow, a nightly syndicated radio show. Earnest Bishop is a former entertainment attorney who served several years in prison for a white-collar crime. His wife, Portia, divorced him while he was away, and he is trying to rebuild his life while dealing with his brother, Chandler Bishop, a shady city councilman.
EBONY: What’s next?
Zane: World domination. Well, maybe not that, but as close as I can get. I have a couple of books coming out this year: Busy Bodies: Chocolate Flava 4 and The Jump Off series tie-in book. I also plan to release two big novels—sequels that my readers have so patiently waited for. I am working on a couple other TV series, and writing scripts for three feature films, one of which I also plan to direct. My novel, Addicted, finished shooting last fall, and we are waiting for a release date from Lionsgate. I am very excited about what the future holds.
Carol Taylor, a former Random House editor, is the author of seven books, including the bestselling erotic series, Brown Sugar. The follow-up to her novel, The Ex Chronicles, will be published this May in Insignificant Others (a four-book novella series). Find her books and her work at brownsugarbooks.com, or insignificantothersbooks.blogspot.com, or follow her on Twitter @IOBooks.