Monday, March 19, 2012

ZANE! So Much More than Sex

We've been trying for years to bring Zane to downtown Ft. Myers for the reading festival but it took social media to seal the deal. Back in the day, I had to use mail - post office type mail, I mean - now even email is outdated. Jessica is the queen of social media and through an interaction on Facebook she got Zane signed, sealed and delivered.

Now I had heard her talk at one of the many conferences I'd been to over the years so I knew that some folks fears that her presentation would be R rated were ridiculous and unfounded. Still, we do live in a pretty buttoned up region of Florida. How I wish that those who had reservations about the tenor of Zane's talk could have attended her powerful, empowering advice to the young adults in the audience.

The daughter of educators, Zane told us that she grew up in a house surrounded by thousands of books. She was shy, introverted, but blessed with an imagination and an eye for detail that had her putting words to paper at an early age. After college, she worked as a research assistant for her dad, a renowned theologian, professor, writer and lecturer, all the while she was writing hot, steamy sex.

 Not sex just for sex's sake, she reminds us with a grin, she loves characterization and believes that people wouldn't read her books if they didn't care about the women in them. Women who make poor decisions, are in destructive relationships, who are being abused by fathers, brothers, uncles, but who are striving to get up and out. Empowerment is the name of her game.

And she lives it. Zane had been writing online for years when word got out to a major publisher who wanted to pick her up. She signed a book deal and was on her way until, that is, they began to tell her to change this, don't do that, tone this down, and on and on. For Zane it wasn't about money or fame, in fact she seems quite shy, so rather than kowtow to a publisher who didn't know her from adam, she just went out and formed her own company.

Now she mentors young authors , seeking out and publishing new talent in multiple genre. In fact, one of her authors, whom she'd only dealt with online, was in the audience and proudly stood up to introduce herself. When an older man took the mic to blame Zane's writing for his 21 year old daughter's out of wedlock pregnancy, she was compassionate but firm, speaking about the role of parental guidance in raising kids. (she has four of her own!)

But the event that touched this librarian's heart the most was when a young woman stepped up and said to the crowd, "I love you Zane. You've changed my life. I hated school and I hated to read until I found you. Now, I read every day. My kids(who were there)do too." In one minute this young lady boiled down the essence of the reading festival. I wish the TV cameras could have been there to capture her sincerity and to see the looks on her children's faces.

Moral of the story? Don't judge the writer by her covers? I'm not sure what the take-away is but I plan to check out one of her books very soon!


TooManyBooks said...

Well said!

Julie P said...

Loved your "column" about Zane.
From Julie P

Sallyb said...

Thank you ladies!