More than a decade ago, Zane, then an unknown suburban mother of three, changed the literary landscape when she self-published her first novel, Addicted. It was the deliciously freaky (and fictional) tale of a woman in similar circumstances, a mom of three, but this one had an insatiable appetite for sex—with three men other than her husband. The book’s success put Zane on the map, and the New York Times hailed the author for “giving voice to a new type of genre fiction: post-feminist African-American erotica.”
Fourteen New York Times best-sellers and two TV shows later, the queen of erotica is headed where she’s never been before: the big screen. The first (but probably not the last) film based on one of her books is Addicted (based on the novel of the same name), which hits theaters Friday. The Root caught up with Zane to discuss the sex lives of black women, whether Fifty Shades of Grey bit her style and the lack of mainstream coverage for black writers—unless, in Zane’s case, she’s filing for bankruptcy.
The Root: You self-published Addicted, your first novel, in 2000. Fourteen years later it’s on the big screen. It’s been a long journey to get here. What was the process?
Zane: It’s been a nine-year process. [Film studio] Lionsgate first contacted me [about turning Addicted into a film] in February 2005, but things fell apart. They came back to me in September 2011 while I was filming Zane’s the Jump Off for Cinemax. I said I would do it if we start shooting within a year, and we did.
TR: How involved were you in the writing of the film version?
Zane: I do write film scripts and all the scripts for the TV series, and I was originally asked to write the script [for Addicted], but I chose not to. Addicted, to me, is one of my babies, almost. The book is about 95,000 words. The script is 25 percent of the word count from the book. The way it ultimately got pulled off is great, but we had to lose a lot. I don’t think I could have accepted that vision myself and see losing what we had to lose and still keeping the overall premise.
TR: Do you have a favorite scene from the film? Anything that will make the audience gasp or laugh out loud?
Zane: There are a lot of good scenes. We really did an effective job making the entire film interesting. There is one scene when Zoe [ played by Sharon Leal] is in a nightclub and spots Corey [Tyson Beckford]. The first time she saw him, they made eye contact. This time she walks by him and just drops her panties in his lap and goes to the ladies’ room. I think a lot of people are going to get a kick out of that. He’s just sitting there drinking a drink, and then panties in his lap.
TR: Addicted pushed a lot of boundaries in its exploration of black women’s sexuality when it was released. How do you think the perception of black women’s sexuality has changed since Addicted came out?
Zane: I think women are more open about their feelings; they feel more liberated. I’ve had many women in their 40s and 50s tell me that they had never had an orgasm. Reading my books has made them open up enough to say what [they] want. If you really want someone to fall in love with you, the real you, you have to be transparent about who you are. And that includes your sexuality. There is nothing wrong with having desires—everybody has fantasies.
TR: What do you think of the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon over the last two years? “Mommy Erotica” is heralded as this great new thing, but you kicked off that literary trend on a mass scale more than a decade ago.
Zane: I haven’t read the books. I saw the movie trailer. I’m very happy for the author. [Black authors] are not given the same media exposure as white writers. Let me put it out there. I was on a panel once, talking about, imagine what [black authors] could accomplish if we did have the same opportunities. The person interviewing me could not believe that I had not been on the morning shows.
I’ve never been asked to do the Today show or Good Morning America. Imagine how successful I would be if I did have the support of the mainstream-media outlets. I have two successful TV series, a movie coming out and 14 New York Times best-sellers. It’s got to be blatant racism. What else could it be?
Demetria L. Lucas is a contributing editor at The Root, a life coach and the author of Don’t Waste Your Pretty: The Go-to Guide for Making Smarter Decisions in Life & Love as well as A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. Follow her on Twitter.