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Bestselling erotica author Zane linked as Maryland's top tax scofflaw

Bestselling erotica author Zane has been declared the biggest individual tax scofflaw in Maryland by the state's comptroller. The writer reportedly owes more than $340,000 to Maryland in back taxes.

That's not all: She apparently owes the IRS about $540,000, the Washington Post reports.

Zane was publishing bestselling steamy erotica for years before "Fifty Shades of Grey" was even a glimmer in E.L. James' eye. Her first work of short fiction hit the Web in 1997; she self-published three books before landing a deal with Atria, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.

Zane is the pen name of Kristina Laferne Roberts. Although her name has been public for some time, for many years she tried to remain unknown behind her pseudonym. “Publishing her name on the Web is one of the last steps we take in a very long process,” a spokeswoman for the state comptroller’s office, told the Washington Post.

Roberts also has her own publishing house, Strebor, and in 2004 opened a bookstore and gift shop in Baltimore. She's created two television series for Cinemax, “Zane’s Sex Chronicles” and “Zane’s The Jump Off."

A graduate of Howard University and daughter of a schoolteacher and a pastor, Roberts had many challenges when she began writing erotica. When she posted her early stories on AOL, they got a great response from readers but AOL shut her down, deeming the material too racy. A columnist in Cleveland told her, "Zane, I don't think any publisher in New York would touch your work with a 10-foot pole. It's too graphic and explicit. I can't introduce you to the people I know because I'd be too embarrassed." 

The Maryland comptroller's office released its list of tax scofflaws to the Internet hoping that the attention will help them collect moneys owed. In Roberts' case, would be $340,833.58.

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