Poppy Z. Brite

Billy Martin (born May 25, 1967), known professionally as Poppy Z. Brite, is an American author. He initially achieved notoriety in the gothic horror genre of literature in the early 1990s by publishing a string of successful novels and short story collections. His later work moved into the genre of dark comedy, with many stories set in the New Orleans restaurant world. Martin's novels are typically standalone books but may feature recurring characters from previous novels and short stories. Much of his work features openly bisexual and gay characters.

Poppy Z. Brite
Recent photo of Billy Martin
BornMay 25, 1967 (age 51)
Bowling Green, Kentucky
OccupationNovelist, writer
GenreGothic horror, southern gothic, black comedy, dark fantasy
Notable worksLost Souls (1992)
Drawing Blood (1993)
Exquisite Corpse (1996)
The Value of X (2002)
Liquor (2004)
Prime (2005)
Soul Kitchen (2006)
SpouseGrey Cross


Martin is best known for writing gothic and horror novels and short stories. His trademarks include featuring gay men as main characters, graphic sexual descriptions, and an often wry treatment of gruesome events. Some of Martin's better known novels include Lost Souls (1992), Drawing Blood (1993), and the controversial serial killer novel Exquisite Corpse (1996); he has also released the short fiction collections Wormwood (originally published as Swamp Foetus; 1993), Are You Loathsome Tonight? (also published as Self-Made Man; 1998), Wrong Things (with Caitlin R. Kiernan; 2001), and The Devil You Know (2003). His "Calcutta: Lord of Nerves" was selected to represent the year 1992 in the story anthology The Century's Best Horror Fiction.[1]

In a 1998 interview,[2] in response to a comment that "Growing up in the American South [shaped him] as a writer", Martin mentioned that Southern writers Carson McCullers, Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, Flannery O'Connor, Harper Lee, Thomas Wolfe and William Faulkner also influenced his writing. Answering a follow-up question about his literary influences, he also included "Bradbury, Nabokov, W.S. Burroughs, Stephen King, Ramsey Campbell, Shirley Jackson, Thomas Ligotti, Kathe Koja, Dennis Cooper, Dorothy Parker, Dylan Thomas, Harlan Ellison, Peter Straub, Paul Theroux, Baudelaire, Poe, Lovecraft, John Lennon... I could rattle off ten or twenty more easily; they're all in there somewhere."

Martin wrote Courtney Love: The Real Story (1997), a biography of singer Courtney Love that was officially "unauthorized", but he acknowledged that the work was done at Love's suggestion and with her cooperation, including access to Love's personal journal and letters.[3]

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Martin moved away from horror fiction and gothic themes while still writing about gay characters. The critically acclaimed Liquor novelsLiquor (2004), Prime (2005), and Soul Kitchen (2006)—are dark comedies set in the New Orleans restaurant world. The Value of X (2002) depicts the beginning of the careers of the protagonists of the Liquor series—Gary "G-Man" Stubbs and John "Rickey" Rickey; other stories, including several in his most recent collection The Devil You Know (2003) and the novella D*U*C*K, chronicle events in the lives of the extended Stubbs family, a Catholic clan whose roots are sunk deep in the traditional culture of New Orleans. Martin hopes to eventually write three more novels in the Liquor series, tentatively titled Dead Shrimp Blues, Hurricane Stew, and Double Shot. However, in late 2006, he ceased publishing with Three Rivers Press, the trade paperback division of Random House that published the first three Liquor novels, and is currently taking a hiatus from fiction writing. He has described Antediluvian Tales, a short story collection published by Subterranean Press in November 2007, as "if not my last book ever, then my last one for some time." He still writes short non-fiction pieces, including guest editorials for the New Orleans Times-Picayune and a food article for Chile Pepper Magazine.

Martin has often stated that, while he will allow some of his work to be optioned for film under the right circumstances, he has little interest in movies and is not overly eager to see his work filmed. In 1999, his short story The Sixth Sentinel (filmed as The Dream Sentinel) comprised one segment of episode 209 of The Hunger, a short-lived horror anthology series on Showtime.

Critical essays on Martin's fiction appear in Supernatural Fiction Writers: Contemporary Fantasy and Horror (2003) by Brian Stableford[4] and The Evolution of the Weird Tale (2004) by S. T. Joshi.

Personal life

Martin was born in Bowling Green, Warren County, Kentucky, at Western University Hospital.[5] He has written and talked extensively about his gender dysphoria and transgender issues.[6] He is a gay man, and has said, "Ever since I was old enough to know what gay men were, I've considered myself a gay man that happens to have been born in a female body, and that's the perspective I'm coming from."[6] In 2003, Martin wrote that, while gender theorists like Kate Bornstein would call him a "nonoperative transsexual", Martin would not insist on a label, writing "I'm just me".[7] In August 2010, he began hormone therapy, and in 2011 expressed that he would prefer to be referred to by male pronouns.[8]

He lived in Bowling Green, Kentucky; Chapel Hill, North Carolina; and Athens, Georgia prior to moving to New Orleans in 1993.

Martin was the longtime partner of Chris DeBarr, a chef, but the couple split in 2011. His current partner is Grey Cross, a New Orleans visual artist and photographer.

On January 6, 2009, Martin was arrested at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in New Orleans as part of a peaceable demonstration in which churches in the Uptown area of the city were occupied to protest their closings.[9] In August 2009, New Orleans's Gambit Weekly publication published reader-poll results naming Martin in second place as an ever-popular "Best Local Author."[10]


On June 9, 2010, Martin officially stated that he was retired from writing, in a post entitled "I'm Basically Retired (For Now)" on his Livejournal.[11] He stated that he had "completely lost the ability to interact with [his] body of work" and then went on to state that business issues were a partial cause. He also specifically mentioned being unable to disconnect from aspects of his life relating to Hurricane Katrina. He ended his statement by saying that he missed having relationships with his characters and that he did not feel the need to write for publication. Martin has since created a series of artworks themed on New Orleans and voodoo.


Novels and novellas

Short story collections

Anthologies (as editor)

Short stories

N.B.: These were originally published as chapbooks.

  • "R.I.P." (1998)
  • "The Seed of Lost Souls" (1999)
  • "Stay Awake" (2000)
  • "Lantern Marsh" (2000) (first published in October Dreams)
  • "Would You?" (2000)
  • "Pansu" (2001)
  • "Con Party at Hotel California" (2002)
  • "The Feast of St. Rosalie" (2003)
  • "Used Stories" (2004)
  • "Crown of Thorns" (2005)
  • "Liquor for Christmas" (2007)
  • "The H.O.G. Syndrome" (Martin's first "novel", about 9000 words, written at age 12; 2007)


Uncollected short fiction

  • "Vine of the Soul" (appeared in Disco 2000, 1998)
  • "The Freaks (juvenilia)" (The Spook #12, 2002; also appears on Martin's website along with other early/unpublished fiction)
  • "Fuck It, We're Going To Jamaica!" (webzine Necromantic; also appears on Martin's website)
  • "The Curious Case of Miss Violet Stone (1894)" (co-written with David Ferguson; Shadows Over Baker Street, 2003; Ballantine Books)
  • "Wandering the Borderlands" (Masques V, 2006; Gauntlet Press)
  • "System Freeze" (Matrix webcomic, illustrated by Dave Dorman and published in The Matrix Comics volume 2)
  • "The Gulf" (Subterranean: Tales of Dark Fantasy, 2008; Subterranean Press)

See also


  1. ^ John Pelan, The Century's Best Horror Fiction, Cemetery Dance Publications, 2010, two volumes, ISBN 1-58767-080-1.
  2. ^ Guran, Paula (January 1998). "Poppy Z. Brite: Just Not That Weird". Retrieved 2013-09-08.
  3. ^ PzB (auto)Biography discusses the writing of the Love book.
  4. ^ Brian Stableford, "Poppy Z. Brite" in Richard Bleiler, ed. Supernatural Fiction Writers: Contemporary Fantasy and Horror. New York: Thomson/Gale, 2003. (p. 147-152). ISBN 9780684312507
  5. ^ Constance Brite
  6. ^ a b Brite, Poppy Z. (1998). "Enough Rope". In Tuttle, Lisa, ed. Crossing the Border: Tales of Erotic Ambiguity. Trafalgar Square. ISBN 978-0-575-40117-4.CS1 maint: Extra text: editors list (link)
  7. ^ See Martin's LiveJournal, especially the August 22, 2003 entry
  8. ^ Martin, Billy (May 8, 2011). "Remember I said I'd let people know when I became uncomfortable with female pronouns? I'm there. I'd prefer the standard male ones, please". Twitter. Retrieved 2013-09-08.
  9. ^ Bruce Nolan and Susan Finch (January 6, 2009). "New Orleans police remove parishioners occupying closed Uptown churches". The Times-Picayune. Retrieved January 7, 2009.
  10. ^ Best of New Orleans, Gambit Weekly, August 24, 2009.
  11. ^ Martin, Billy (June 9, 2010). "I'm Basically Retired (For Now)". Dispatches from Tanganyika. Archived from the original on September 9, 2013. Retrieved 2013-09-09.
  12. ^ Brite, Poppy Z. (2009). Second Line. Small Beer Press. ISBN 978-1931520607.
  13. ^ Brite, Poppy Z. (1995). His Mouth Will Taste of Wormwood and Other Stories. Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0-146-00050-8.
Are You Loathsome Tonight?

Are You Loathsome Tonight? (also titled Self-Made Man) is a collection of short stories by American author Poppy Z. Brite, published in 1998 by Gauntlet Press.

Brimstone Press

Brimstone Press was an Australian independent publisher of dark fiction (horror and dark fantasy). Brimstone Press was established in 2004 by Angela Challis and Shane Jiraiya Cummings and was based in Western Australia.

The first publication from Brimstone Press was Shadowed Realms, an online flash fiction horror magazine that was active from 2004 to 2007. Authors published in Shadowed Realms include Terry Dowling, Richard Harland, Robert Hood, Poppy Z Brite, Stephen Dedman, Kurt Newton, Martin Livings, Lee Battersby, Paul Haines, Steven Cavanagh and Kaaron Warren. Shadowed Realms gained professional status from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) in 2005 and was nominated for the Best Collected Work Ditmar Award in 2006.Brimstone Press also published HorrorScope: The Australian Dark Fiction Web Log, a news and review webzine. In December 2006, Brimstone Press moved into book publication. Among their published anthologies are Shadow Box and the Australian Dark Fantasy & Horror series.

Brimstone Press produced a newsstand-quality horror magazine, Black: Australia's Dark Culture magazine which ran for three issues in 2008. Many of Australia's best-known horror writers including Rob Hood, Leigh Blackmore and others appeared in its pages.

Several stories and projects published by Brimstone Press have won, or been nominated for, Australian and international literary awards.

Candles for Elizabeth

Candles for Elizabeth (ISBN 0-9658345-8-1) is fantasist Caitlin R. Kiernan's first chapbook, released in 1998 by Meisha Merlin Publishing, shortly before the release of Kiernan's debut novel, Silk. It includes an introduction by Poppy Z. Brite. The contents of this chapbook were later incorporated into Kiernan's first short-story collection, Tales of Pain and Wonder. The author provided afterwords for each story, discussing their inspiration. According to an interview conducted by Jessa Crispin, the title is a reference to the suicide of Kiernan's close friend, Elizabeth Tillman Aldridge, in 1995. Kiernan's Alabaster, written in 2006, is dedicated to Aldridge as well. These stories were later included in Kiernan's first short-fiction collection, Tales of Pain and Wonder (Gauntlet, 2000).

Chemical generation

The Chemical Generation refers to a collection of writers in the 1990s who added a literary dimension to the hedonistic ecstasy culture of the era.

In its most singular guise, it could be said to include Irvine Welsh, Roddy Doyle, Alan Warner, John King, Jeff Noon, Nicholas Blincoe, Gordon Legge and Laura Hird - all of whom participated in the survey of the scene carried by the Steve Redhead book for Canongate (also publishers of Rebel Inc.), Repetitive Beat Generation. The book's title was an attempt to draw a parallel between the ecstasy culture (singled out by government as 'repetitive beats') and the Beat generation before it.

Key works include Irvine Welsh's Ecstasy and Daren King's Boxy an Star. The concept of a group of writers addressing drug culture was further developed in 1997 by Sarah Champion, whose Disco Biscuits became the UK's bestselling fiction anthology of all time. In addition to the authors listed above the book was notable for the inclusion of writers such as Alex Garland, Bill Drummond, Will Self, Grant Morrison, Esther Freud, Douglas Coupland, Neal Stephenson, Poppy Z. Brite and Robert Anton Wilson.

As the relevance of club culture faded with the onset of a return to guitar-based bands in the ascendancy, the writers progressed onto more staple projects, though there was an overlap with many of the writers present in 2000's New Puritans anthology. Their style and approach has been mirrored among younger British writers however, such as Richard Milward and Michael Smith.

Drawing Blood

Drawing Blood is a 1993 horror novel by American writer Poppy Z. Brite. Something of a haunted house tale, the novel was originally titled Birdland but the publisher retitled it to make a thin connection to Brite's first novel, Lost Souls, a vampire tale.

Exquisite Corpse (novel)

Exquisite Corpse is a horror novel by American writer Poppy Z. Brite. The protagonist of the story is Andrew Compton, an English convicted homosexual serial killer, cannibal and necrophiliac. Brite has described it as "a necrophilic, cannibalistic, serial killer love story that explores the seamy politics of victimhood and disease."

From Weird and Distant Shores

From Weird and Distant Shores is fantasist Caitlin R. Kiernan's second solo short-story collection, released by Subterranean Press in 2002. As with her first collection, Tales of Pain and Wonder, interior illustrations were supplied by Canadian artist Richard A. Kirk. The book includes thirteen stories (horror, science fiction, and fantasy), including a collaboration with Poppy Z. Brite and another with Christa Faust. As Kiernan explains in the collection's introduction, most of these stories were originally written for "'shared world' and 'theme' anthologies," books wherein the authors have been asked to write stories set in the worlds of other authors or stories pertaining to some particular subject, respectively. The collection is notable in that includes Kiernan's earliest published short story, "Persephone." Kiernan provides an afterword for each story.

Liquor (novel series)

The Liquor novel series is a novel series by Poppy Z. Brite. The books are linked by common characters and the setting, a New Orleans restaurant where "the potboiler meets the saucier". The series revolves around the two young chefs John Rickey and Gary "G-man" Stubbs, their restaurant and their life in New Orleans.

Lost Souls (Poppy Z. Brite novel)

Lost Souls is a 1992 horror novel by American writer Poppy Z. Brite, his first one. It is the only novel-length adventure of Brite's 'Steve and Ghost' characters, popularized in numerous short stories. The novel is an extended version of the short story "The Seed of Lost Souls".

Several characters introduced in the novel make appearances in Brite's second novel, Drawing Blood, though it is not a direct sequel.

Mélanie Fazi

Mélanie Fazi (born 29 November 1976) is a French novelist and translator specialising in fantasy fiction. As well as writing award-winning fiction of her own she has translated works by Lois McMaster Bujold, Elizabeth Moon, Poppy Z. Brite and Graham Joyce into French for Éditions Bragelonne, a French publisher.

Plastic Jesus (novella)

"Plastic Jesus" is a novella by American writer Poppy Z. Brite, published by Subterranean Press in 2000. The story concerns Seth Grealy and Peyton Masters, frontmen of the rock and roll band The Kydds. Seth and Peyton fall deeply in love, and publicly come out after the Stonewall riots, at the cost of controversy and risk to the Kydds' popularity.

The story closely parallels the career of The Beatles, with not only Seth and Peyton standing in for John Lennon and Paul McCartney, but dozens of other Beatles-analogous characters and events.

Snow, Glass, Apples

"Snow, Glass, Apples" is a 1994 short story written by Neil Gaiman. It was originally released as a benefit book for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and was reprinted in the anthology Love in Vein II, edited by Poppy Z. Brite.


Splatterpunk was a movement within horror fiction in the 1980s, distinguished by its graphic, often gory, depiction of violence, countercultural alignment and "hyperintensive horror with no limits." The term was coined in 1986 by David J. Schow at the Twelfth World Fantasy Convention in Providence, Rhode Island. Splatterpunk is regarded as a revolt against the "traditional, meekly suggestive horror story".

Splatterpunk has been defined as a "literary genre characterised by graphically described scenes of an extremely gory nature."Michael Shea's short fiction "The Autopsy" (1980) has been described as a "proto-splatterpunk" story.Splatterpunk provoked considerable controversy among horror writers. Robert Bloch criticised the movement, stating "there is a distinction to be made between that which inspires terror and that which inspires nausea". William F. Nolan and Charles L. Grant also censured the movement. However, critics R.S. Hadji and Philip Nutman praised the movement, the latter stating splatterpunk was a "survivalist" literature that "reflects the moral chaos of our times".Though the term gained some prominence in the 1980s and 1990s, and, as a movement, attracted a cult following, the term "splatterpunk" has since been replaced by other synonymous terms for the genre. The last major commercial endeavor aimed at the Splatterpunk audience was 1995's Splatterpunks II: Over the Edge, an anthology of short stories which also included essays on horror cinema and an interview with Anton LaVey. By 1998, one commentator was stating that interest in splatterpunk was declining, noting such interest "seemed to have reached a peak" in the mid-1990s. The term is still sometimes used for horror with a strong gruesome element, such as Philip Nutman's novel Cities of Night.Writers known for writing in this genre include Clive Barker, Poppy Z. Brite, Jack Ketchum, Richard Laymon, J. F. Gonzalez, Joe Lansdale, Brian Keene, Monica J. O'Rourke, Matt Shaw, Bryan Smith, Richard Christian Matheson, Robert McCammon, Shane McKenzie, Wrath James White, David J. Schow

(described as "the father of splatterpunk" by Richard Christian Matheson), John Skipp, Craig Spector, Edward Lee, and Michael Boatman. Some commentators also

regard Kathe Koja as a splatterpunk writer.

The Devil You Know (short story collection)

The Devil You Know is a collection of short stories by American author Poppy Z. Brite published in 2003 by Subterranean Press.

The Lazarus Heart

Lazarus Heart may refer to:

The Lazarus Heart (novel), a novel by Poppy Z. Brite

The Lazarus Heart (album), an album by Randy Stonehill

"The Lazarus Heart", a song on the Sting album, ...Nothing Like the Sun

A Lazarus heart refers to an event in which a person spontaneously returns to life (the heart starts beating again) after resuscitation has been given up.

The Lazarus Heart (novel)

The Lazarus Heart is an original novel by American writer Poppy Z. Brite, set in the universe of The Crow. It was published in 1998 by Harper Prism. Like the majority of Brite's fiction, The Lazarus Heart is set in New Orleans.

Wrongly executed for the murder of his gay lover, Jared is resurrected by the crow to get vengeance and bring justice to the real killer. He is assisted in the mission by his lover's trans woman twin.

The novel's basic plot was the direct inspiration for The Crow: Salvation, the third film in the series.

Wormwood (short story collection)

Wormwood, originally published as Swamp Foetus, is a collection of short stories by American horror fiction author Poppy Z. Brite. It was first published by Borderlands Press, a small press publisher of horror fiction, in 1993. It was reprinted by Penguin Books in 1995, and reprinted and retitled in 1996 by Dell Publishing.

Wrong Things

Wrong Things is a short story collection by Poppy Z. Brite and Caitlin R. Kiernan. It was released by Subterranean Press in 2001. The cover art and illustrations were provided by Canadian artist Richard A. Kirk. Kiernan's solo contribution to the book, "Onion", received the 2001 International Horror Guild Award for Best Short Story and was chosen for The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, Fifteenth Annual Collection (edited by Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow; St. Martin's, 2001). Kiernan and Brite's collaborative story, "The Rest of the Wrong Thing," is set in Brite's fictional town of Missing Mile, also appearing in his novels Lost Souls (1992) and Drawing Blood (1993). This is the second short story the two authors have coauthored, the first being "Night Story 1973," which appeared in Kiernan's collection, From Weird and Distant Shores (2002).

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