A BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO PZB
ANTEDILUVIAN TALES (2007). A mini-short story collection comprising the last seven short stories I wrote before the failure of the federal levees following Hurricane Katrina, as well as a nonfiction look at the changes the past two years have wrought on my life, filtered through a reminiscence about a day I spent knocking around Cairns, Australia.
D*U*C*K (2007). A Liquor-related novella set in a slightly alternate universe where Katrina never happened. Following a life-threatening assault by a waiter and the defection of one of his best cooks to a trendy new restaurant, Rickey accepts a gig catering the annual banquet for the South Louisiana branch of hunting/conservation group Ducks Unlimited. Held in the Cajun prairie town of Opelousas, this all-duck banquet mightn't seem a great opportunity for a chef to restore his wounded pride … but the guest of honor is Rickey's childhood football hero, former New Orleans Saints quarterback Bobby Hebert. The crew is unstoppable, the menu is perfect, and the ducks are thick in the marshes this year. In Louisiana, though, every important occasion has a nutcase waiting in the wings … and all too often, the nutcase is an elected official. Will Rickey get the chance to cook for his idol, or will it end in chaos?
SOUL KITCHEN (2006). The third Liquor novel. At the tail end of a busy Mardi Gras, Rickey and G-man hire Milford Goodman, a talented black chef who's spent the last decade in prison for murder, but has recently been exonerated and released. When a pill-pushing doctor and a Carnival scion (a former Comus, for those who know their Carnival roles) talk Rickey into consulting at the restaurant they're opening in one of the city's "floating casinos," Rickey recommends Milford for the head chef position and stays on to supervise. But soon Rickey finds himself medicating a kitchen injury with the doctor's wares, and G-man tires of holding down the fort at Liquor alone. As the new restaurant approaches its opening date, Rickey learns that Milford's past is inextricably linked with one of the project's backers, a man whose intentions begin to seem more and more sinister.
PRIME (2005). The second Liquor novel (there will be at least two more), Prime takes place about two years after the restaurant has opened. Hoping to gain financial independence from backer Lenny Duveteaux, who's being targeted by eccentric New Orleans DA Placide Treat, Rickey takes a consulting job at a restaurant in Dallas. All is not as it seems, and soon he and G-man find themselves in Texas-sized trouble.
TRIADS (2004). Co-written with Christa Faust. An expansion of the pre-WWII Hong Kong/Shanghai novella we originally published in Doug Winter's anthology Revelations, Triads isn't just a fluffed-up version of the novella but a full-length novel with two new sections, one set in 1940s Hollywood and one in the present day. The expansion is more Christa's baby than mine, and it's a damn fine piece of work; if you enjoy it, you should pick up her novel Hoodtown.
LIQUOR (2004). Rickey and G-man are down-and-out New Orleans line cooks with a brilliant idea: a restaurant where all the dishes are based on liquor. With financial backing from celebrity chef Lenny Duveteaux and hindrance from Rickey's crazy cokehead ex-boss, they attempt to make this dream a reality. Liquor was the first thing I ever wrote about Rickey and G-man, and I had no idea that it would turn into a series of novels and short stories about the restaurant, the guys' relationship, and G-man's large Irish-Italian-Catholic family, but I feel the characters have given me a whole new way of seeing and writing about New Orleans, and I plan to keep working with them for a long time.
THE DEVIL YOU KNOW (2003). My favorite of my three story collections (so far), this contains most of the short fiction I wrote between 1999 and 2003, including three Dr. Brite tales ("O Death, Where Is Thy Spatula?"; "Marisol"; "The Heart of New Orleans") and several stories about Rickey, G-man, and the Stubbs family ("Bayou de la Mère"; "The Heart of New Orleans"; "A Season in Heck").
THE VALUE OF X (2002). Chronologically the first novel about Liquor characters Rickey and G-man (though it was actually written soon after Liquor), this is the story of their teenage years in New Orleans, the beginning of their relationship, their earliest restaurant jobs, and Rickey's brief but educational stint at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.
WRONG THINGS (2001). Mini-collection containing one story by me ("The Crystal Empire," originally written in 1985 or so; I liked it enough to rework it for this project), one by Caitlín R. Kiernan ("Onion"), and one collaboration between the two of us ("The Rest of the Wrong Thing," set in my fictional town of Missing Mile, NC).
PLASTIC JESUS (2000). A novella in nine chapters detailing the rise to fame, love affair, coming-out at Stonewall, and peaceful retirement of '60s rock musicians Seth Grealy and Peyton Masters, mostly recalled by Seth as he lies dying from an assassin's bullet on a New York street. Basically a glorified piece of fan fiction -- "What would have happened if Lennon and McCartney fell in love?" -- complete with nine illustrations by yours truly. Not a great work, but a sweet little volume for the collectors.
THE LAZARUS HEART (1998). A novel set in the world of the Crow franchise, but utilizing my own characters and story. Prominent S/M photographer Jared Poe is falsely sentenced and sent to prison for the murder of his lover, Benjamin. He is murdered there himself, and as at least one character in all Crow-related stories must do, returns from the dead to right the wrongs that have been done in his name. He is helped in his quest by Benjamin's transsexual twin sister, Lucrece, the best character in the book. Other highlights include Frank, a closeted New Orleans cop, and Linda Getty, a tough lesbian policewoman who later appears in several of my Dr. Brite stories and my novel Prime.
ARE YOU LOATHSOME TONIGHT? (1998; published in the U.K. as Self-Made Man). I always say this is the weakest of my first three short story collections, and it probably is, but there are some decent moments in it: "Mussolini and the Axeman's Jazz" (about a series of unsolved New Orleans murders in the early twentieth century) and "Are You Loathsome Tonight?" (a vaguely Lovecraftian tale of Elvis's last days) are my favorites.
EXQUISITE CORPSE (1996). Andrew Compton, English serial slayer of 23 young men, escapes from prison in order to continue pursuing his "art." He absconds to New Orleans and meets Jay Byrne, who has taken the "art" to a higher level by not just torturing and killing his victims, but consuming their flesh. One potential victim is Tran, a beautiful Vietnamese runaway. Tran's HIV-positive ex, Luke, has an alternate life as Lush Rimbaud, host of a pirate-radio rant show. Readers seem to hate Luke and love Tran, which I'll never understand: Luke strikes me as self-pitying and caustic but ultimately sympathetic, whereas Tran is so incredibly stupid that you can’t understand why somebody hasn’t put him out of his misery. Alternating chapters narrated by Andrew strike me as the book's heart, if it has one. Exquisite Corpse wasn't any fun at all to write, not because of the "horrific, pornographic, unjustifiable" violence (to use some of the descriptions employed by publishers and reviewers), but because I really never warmed up to most of the characters, which is very unusual for me. Andrew, though, always seemed witty and personable despite being a murderer most foul.
WORMWOOD (1994; published in limited edition and in the U.K. as Swamp Foetus). My first short story collection, this includes my earliest sales to The Horror Show ("Optional Music for Voice and Piano," "Missing," "A Georgia Story," "Angels") as well as the better-known stories that were among my first pro anthology sales ("His Mouth Will Taste of Wormwood"; "Calcutta, Lord of Nerves"). Heavy on the lush-gorgeous-and-wondrous, but a good representation of my early work in the short form.
DRAWING BLOOD (1993). In 1972, underground cartoonist Bobby McGee murders his family in Missing Mile, North Carolina, leaving only five-year-old Trevor alive. Twenty years later, hoping to understand why it happened, Trevor returns to the abandoned house where his family died. He's joined there by Zachary Bosch, a New Orleans computer hacker on the run from the FBI. Together they try to unlock the secret of Bobby McGee's madness, encounter the presences still in the old house, hang out at the Sacred Yew (Missing Mile's nightclub, home of Steve and Ghost's band Lost Souls?, though they're on the road for this one), and, not so incidentally, have lots and lots of hot, exhaustively detailed sex. A very druggy book (I don't think the bong ever strayed more than a couple of feet from my desk while I was writing it), Drawing Blood contains way too many cute in-jokes, '90s pop culture references, and clichéd images of New Orleans, but it was written with great affection and the characters remain among my favorites. Its original title was Birdland, which the publisher nixed because "it doesn't sound like a horror title," and that's still how I think of it.
LOST SOULS (1992). First novel, and boy does it ever show -- not because it isn't good; it's lush and passionate and energetic as hell, but because I threw in everything in the world in hopes of hitting the full-length novel mark. Basically, it's about a bunch of kids: 15-year-old babygoth Nothing, who runs away from his suburban home to seek his (God help me) favorite band; the band members themselves, Steve and Ghost, a redneck and a psychic from Missing Mile, North Carolina; and Molochai, Twig, and Zillah, a roving band of freaks who end up being Nothing's real family. There's a plot in there somewhere, involving trips to New Orleans during which the noxious green liqueur Chartreuse is consumed, love and betrayal, babies who eat their way out of the womb, and lots and lots of blood, sex, drugs, cheap wine, and Twinkies.