To be honest, I never really had a special interest in vampires. They sort of slimed their way into my first novel because they were an essential icon of goth culture at the time—they’re kind of passé now, I think—and after Lost Souls was a success, people expected me to be much more interested in them than I was.
(From an interview in Vice Magazine, “Poppy Z. Brite Is The King/Queen Of New Orleans” by Amy Kellner, 2008)
I went back and forth a little bit, debated, asked a few people what they thought, and ultimately decided to include Poppy Z. Brite on my list of the top 20 women that I chose to feature during Women in Horror Month this year, because although Poppy self-identifies almost completely as male rather than female, Poppy was still female at the time of publication of most of the notable works below.
Although known for featuring more male characters, Poppy Z. Brite has been, without a doubt, one of the most influential figures to women writing horror and as an influence on the genre in general, and with good reason. Works like Lost Souls and Drawing Blood are some of the most praised works in the genre, and fans of horror with a gothic sensibility continue to discover them even to this day, a testament to their lasting impact.
What to Read First: Brite’s work is very diverse, and many novels can be considered stand-alone. Depending on where your interests rank, if you’re big on vampires, I would recommend Lost Souls, or if you’re more into short story collections, start with Wormwood. Drawing Blood is also a great place to start.
For a more complete bibliography, visit this link:
Lost Souls (1992, Dell)
Wormwood (short story collection) (1993, Dell)
Drawing Blood (1993, Dell)
Exquisite Corpse (1996, Touchstone)
Wrong Things (with Caitlin R. Kiernan) (2001, Subterranean Press)
The Devil You Know (short story collection) (2003, Gauntlet Press)
Liquor (2004, Three Rivers Press)
Prime (2005, Three Rivers Press)
Soul Kitchen (2006, Three Rivers Press)
* Born Melissa Ann Brite
* Native of New Orleans, Louisiana
* Has done a Crow-inspired take off set in New Orleans called The Crow: The Lazarus Heart (1999, Harper Entertainment)
* Loves UNC basketball and is a huge fan of the football team the New Orleans Saints
* Passionate about rescuing cats
* Became one of the first New Orleanians that began to re-populate the city after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina
* First story was written (dictated into a tape recorder) at the age of 3 and started submitting stories at the age of 12
* Fan of John Kennedy O’Toole, J.D. Salinger, and Neil Gaiman, among many others
* Wrote a biography of rock singer Courtney Love
* Wrote an interesting and morbid eulogy for William Burroughs
* First published short story was “Optional Music for Voice and Piano,” published in THE HORROR SHOW (which became defunct in 1988)
* Edited collections Love in Vein (1994, Harper Prism) and Love in Vein II (1997, Harper Prism)
* Has been nominated for a slew of major awards for horror and fantasy fiction, including the Bram Stoker Award, the Lambda Award,
* Won an International Horror Guild Award for Best Anthology for Love in Vein
* For a complete award bibliography, visit this link
Current projects: Sadly, Poppy Z. Brite has taken a hiatus from producing new material for the time being.