“Zane,” the renowned Prince George’s County author who has sold millions of steamy novels, has been chased for years by creditors, including the IRS and the state of Maryland, according to court records and state officials.
Kristina Laferne Roberts, 47, who writes under the pseudonym “Zane,” owes the IRS almost $541,000, according to court documents filed by the government. Last week, Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot (D) announced that the $341,000 Roberts owes the state makes her Maryland’s top individual “tax cheat.”
Here’s a primer on Zane:
Who is Zane?
Zane is Kristina Laferne Roberts, 47, a best-selling author who writes under the pseudonym Zane.
Zane, who lives in Prince George’s County, is a literary force credited with bringing erotica into the mainstream.
Zane has been called the “Queen of Erotica,” cornering the market on erotica books that feature mostly African-American characters. She has sold millions of copies of books, hitting the New York Times bestsellers list more than 25 times.
How Zane got started?
Zane, who was born in D.C. and attended Howard University majoring in chemical engineering, told interviewers that she began writing while working as a researcher by day and writing steamy stories by night.
One of her first stories was called “First Night.” She sent it to a few people she had met on an AOL chat room and she received a huge response. “ ‘I started getting emails from all these people, like, ‘That’s the hottest thing I’ve ever read. Have you written anything else?’” she told Time. Publishers began offering her deals, which she initially turned down because they wanted her to “tame” some of her scenes.
In 1999, Zane founded her own publishing house and called it Strebor Books. Strebor is Roberts spelled backwards. That spring, she self-published “Zane’s: The Sex Chronicles,” a collection of 40 stories. “The Sex Chronicles” was a huge success. The next year, she published “Addicted” and in 2001, “Shame on It all.”
In 2001, Zane began working with Pocket Books, which released “Addicted” and “The Sex Chronicles” in paperback, printing more than 100,000 of each book. “Addicted,” a book about “a married woman with a secret sex life,” and “The Sex Chronicles” sold almost as fast as stores could stock it. Atria Books published “The Heat Seekers,” which was followed by a string of hits, including “Getting’ Buck Wild: Sex Chronicles II.”
Zane’s popular titles include:
The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth
Shame on It All
Gettin’ Buck Wild: Sex Chronicles II
The Heat Seekers
Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk about Sex and Love
Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade
Total Eclipse of the Heart
Love Is Never Painless
Flava Series: Honey Flava, Caramel Flava, Chocolate Flava
Missionary No More
The Hot Box
In her story, “First Night,” she writes: “We ride up the coast of Maine on your brand-new motorcycle and stop for the night at a cozy, secluded bed and breakfast inn. They show us to our room. It is very romantic with a fireplace and antique Victorian furniture. Beside the sofa is a round little table with a linen table cloth and burning white candles. Our room also has a huge king-size bed.”
The scene quickly turns steamy.
Zane makes no apologies for her stories:
In an author’s note in “The Sex Chronicles,” Zane wrote: “I will be the first to admit that none of my novels are what one would consider mainstream. “They are controversial. I intentionally made them that way. I want people to finish one of my novels, put it down and say, ‘Dammmmmmn!’ ”
Zane’s advice to her critics:
“Bottom line, as long as people will read my work, I will continue to write it. For those of you that tried to stop this and yet are sitting here reading every word I write as usual, please don’t step to me with your judgments. I would appreciate you not wasting your time or mine.”
Zane’s tax issues:
According to state officials, Zane owes the state of Maryland $340,833.58.
Her name was announced this week on the state’s web site “Caught in the Web,” after state officials said they made several attempts to collect the taxes owed from 2003, 2004, 2006 through 2009 and 2012. The site listed 25 businesses and 25 individuals who owed the state more than $6.1 million in unpaid taxes. “She is the top tax individual on our list,” said Christine Feldmann, a spokeswoman for the state comptroller’s office. “Publishing her name on the web is one of the last steps we take in a very long process.”
Zane could not be reached for comment.
Zane has told interviewers over the years:
“Like most writers, I am extremely observant, but I also truly see the beauty in life, even the negative,” Zane said. “Life is 10 % what happens to you and 90 % how you react to it.”