PURPLE PROZE, ISSUE #1, 7/95
Hello, and welcome to the first issue of PURPLE PROZE, a sporadic
broadsheet dedicated to providing updates on the career and
doings of my favorite author, Poppy Z. Brite. My name is Robert
Sage. I've been a fan of PZB's work since her first appearances
in THE HORROR SHOW. Like her, I'm a native New Orleanian. I'll
be running this service for free because I don't want to be
tied to any schedule, and I'm putting it all out on my IBM-clone
and desktop printer, so pardon me if it looks kinda low-tech.
The words are the important part (when was the last time you
wished LOST SOULS came with illustrations?).
PZB will be working with me as time allows. It seems she is
about a year behind on answering her fan mail. While she doesn't
expect to get caught up anytime soon, she feels horribly guilty
about ignoring it. From my enthusiasm for her work and her wish
to keep in touch with her fans, PURPLE PROZE was (un)born. Each
issue will include whatever information PZB gives me, plus (variously)
outtakes from interviews, comments from the Internet about PZB,
and whatever else I feel like putting in.
PZB says she will try to answer some specific reader questions
in each issue. Later in this one, you'll find Q&A from the
stack of letters currently languishing by her desk.
You have been put on the PURPLE PROZE mailing list because
you sent fan mail or otherwise expressed interest in PZB. If
you don't wish to receive this service, please drop me a postcard
and I will remove you from the list.
What's up with EXQUISITE CORPSE?
PZB has mentioned her third novel in countless interviews.
We've been waiting for it to hit the bookstores for two years.
Here's what happened:
EXQUISITE CORPSE was to be the final novel in a three-book
contract PZB signed with Dell Books in 1991. While the novel
was in progress, Jeanne Cavelos, PZB's editor and the founder
of the Abyss horror line, left Dell to teach school. PZB turned
in the manuscript, was assigned a new editor, and had already
begun revisions when Dell announced that they were dumping the
book due to its extreme subject matter and nihilistic worldview.
(You can addressopinions on this to Leslie Schnur, Dell Books,
1540 Broadway, 19th Floor, New York, NY 10036.)
Though Dell had kept the book off the market for months, a
new deal was quickly formulated with Simon & Schuster. PZB
signed a contract for hardcover publication of EXQUISITE CORPSE
and a second, untitled novel. Her new editor is Robert Asahina,
who originally purchased Bret Easton Ellis's AMERICAN PSYCHO
for Simon & Schuster, was forced to give it up, then watched
it become a bestseller for Knopf. PZB says, "I guess his
bosses are listening to him now."
EXQUISITE CORPSE is scheduled for Spring 1996. Simon &
Schuster will not be publishing it under a horror imprint, but
as a mainstream novel. PZB hopes to do a limited edition with
Charnel House Books. The novel will be published by Orion in
An excerpt from the novel, titled "Exquisite Creep,"
appears in the anthology SOUTH FROM MIDNIGHT (edited by R. Gilliam,
M. Greenberg, and T. Hanlon, Southern Fried Press, P.O. Box
791302, New Orleans, LA 70179). A different excerpt will appear
in an upcoming issue of the magazine SUBLIMINAL TATTOOS (9604
S.E. Fifth St, Vancouver, WA 98664). What follows is a description
PZB wrote for Simon & Schuster's Author Questionnaire.
"EXQUISITE CORPSE is a necrophilic, cannibalistic serial
killer love story that explores the seamy politics of victimhood
and disease. The first chapter and several others throughout
the book are narrated by Andrew Compton, an English murderer
who has escaped after five years in prison to pursue what he
calls the art of killing boys. In New Orleans he meets Jay Byrne,
who has pushed this art to limits even Andrew hasn't previously
imagined, and Tran, a young Vietnamese-American runaway whom
they designate their perfect victim. The story is punctuated
by rants from pirate radio talk show host Lush Rimbaud, a.k.a.
Luke Ransom, Tran's ex-lover, who is dying of AIDS and intends
to disrupt the status quo as much as possible before doing so.
"The serial killer is the werewolf of the new millennium,
the vampire of the post-industrial landscape; yet there is nothing
to be learned by dismissing him as an unfathomable monster,
for he is human. [My novel] has been described as nihilistic,
sadistic, relentless, and unjustifiable. I'm not interested
in arguing these points, but I believe the reader who is willing
to crawl inside the head of a serial killer and experience the
twisted world there will find it a fascinating (if not a comforting)
PZB has signed a contract with HarperCollins to edit a companion
volume to her erotic vampire anthology LOVE IN VEIN, titled
In May, PZB bought a house in Uptown New Orleans. This may
come as a shock to those who considered her a die-hard French
Quarter rat. She cites Uptown's space, tranquility, affordability,
and lack of tourists and scungy panhandlers as big influences
on her decision to move. Her house was built in 1919.
PZB's current project is the much-rumored biography of rock
diva Courtney Love. Courtney did not hire PZB as reported in
PEOPLE magazine, but she is a big fan of PZB's work. Assisting
her with research and interviews on the project is David Ferguson,
formerly of Athens, GA rock band The Go Figures, also one of
the two people DRAWING BLOOD is dedicated to. (The other is
PZB's husband, Christopher DeBarr, who now works as a chef at
the famous New Orleans restaurant Commander's Palace).
Director Tim Burton (BEETLEJUICE, EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, NIGHTMARE
BEFORE CHRISTMAS, etc) has expressed interest in having PZB
adapt several of her short stories from SWAMP FOETUS as screenplays
for him to direct.
In May, BBC Television came to New Orleans to film PZB for
an installment of their show, "The A - Z of Horror."
The program's subject is "Bloodlust." PZB is interviewed
in Lafayette Cemetery, her French Quarter apartment, and the
city morgue. The program will be shown on BBC-TV in the U.K.
and Arts & Entertainment in the U.S.
Horror photographer J.K. Potter is selling a limited edition
of 100 prints of PZB nude, the lower half of her body transformed
into a giant hand, perched on a human skull. These black &
white prints are 16 x 20, matted, signed, and numbered. They
are available from Bess Cutler Gallery, 379 West Broadway, New
York, NY 10012 for $150.00 plus $8.00 postage and handling.
Recent PZB story appearances:
"Saved" (with Christa Faust) in YOUNG BLOOD, edited
by Mike Baker, Zebra Books.
"Becoming The Monster" in WEIRD BUSINESS, a comics
anthology edited by Joe R. Lansdale and Richard Klaw. PZB wrote
the script; Miran Kim (cover artist for the Delacorte editions
of LOST SOULS and DRAWING BLOOD) provided the illustrations.
Mojo Press, P.O. Box 140005, Austin, TX 78754 / email@example.com
"Toxic Wastrels" in THE EARTH STRIKES BACK, Ziesing
Books, P.O. Box 76, Shingletown, CA 96088
"Xenophobia" (reprint) in SPLATTERPUNKS 2, edited
by Paul M. Sammon, Tor Books.
"How To Get Ahead In New York" (reprint) in BEST
NEW HORROR 4, edited by Stephen Jones and Ramsey Campbell, Carroll
Upcoming PZB story appearances:
"Triads" (novella, with Christa Faust) in MILLENNIUM,
edited by Douglas E. Winter, HarperCollins, early 1996.
"Mussolini and the Axeman's Jazz" in DARK DESTINY
2, edited by Edward Kramer, White Wolf, Fall 1995.
"Self-Made Man" in BOOK OF THE DEAD 3, edited by
Craig Spector, unscheduled. (Last PZB heard, White Wolf wanted
to bring out two BOTD omnibus editions, combining Book 1 with
Book 3 and Book 2 with Book 4, but Skipp and Spector couldn't
agree on the terms.)
"Asshole" in PMS DAWN, a feminist zine. PZB isn't
too sure about contact info -- if you have Internet access,
try firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
"America" in BACKSTAGE PASSES, edited by Amelia G
of BLUE BLOOD magazine, Masquerade Books. Though PZB refers
to this as a "ditty," it will be the first appearance
of Steve and Ghost since "How To Get Ahead In New York"!
YOU ASKED FOR IT -- PZB answers questions from your letters.
Q. Can my student film group buy the rights to LOST SOULS cheap?
A. Movie rights represent an enormous amount of potential income
that I can't afford to give up. However, I think my readers
could make way cooler movies of my books than Hollywood could
ever dream of doing, so if you make a low-budget, non-profit
unauthorized version, I sure as hell won't sue you.
Q. How can I get my books signed?
A. Send them to me c/o the PURPLE PROZE address with return
postage enclosed. Let me know how you'd like them inscribed,
or if you just want a signature.
Q. I heard there was a limited edition of DRAWING BLOOD whose
cover smelled of burnt human flesh. Is this true or is it some
tale of tabloid trash?
A. Four copies of the Cahill Press limited edition of DRAWING
BLOOD were caught in a California mail-store fire set by a racist
firebomber. The guy managed to torch himself in the process,
and supposedly the books ended up suffused with the odor of
his barbecueing flesh. (I haven't seen or smelled one.) Dealer
Barry Levin sold them for $600 apiece, and the last I heard,
they had all resold for double that. Horribly apt, no?
Q. Can I interview you for my zine/newspaper/school project?
A. I found a bunch of interview requests in my neglected mail,
and these are the ones I feel most guilty about. I'm not in
the habit of turning down interviews, much less ignoring requests
for them, but all I can say is the last few months have been
more insane than usual and I'm sorry if anyone has been offended
or inconvenienced by my slackness. If you want to interview
me -- or if you asked before and still want to interview
me -- send your questions to PURPLE PROZE, and I'll try to do
better from now on. If you went ahead and sent questions, I'll
get to them ASAP. I can't promise to be timely, but my intentions
Q. Where can I get a copy of SWAMP FOETUS in the U.S.?
A. My short story collection is reportedly out of print from
Borderlands Press. Dealers who still have hardcover copies include
Ziesing Books (at the address listed for THE EARTH STRIKES BACK
elsewhere in this newsletter) and The Overlook Connection, P.O.
Box 526, Woodstock, GA 30188. Dell will be putting out a paperback
edition retitled WORMWOOD in January 1996, but the Borderlands
hardcover edition is altogether much nicer. You'll also see
copies of the U.K. Penguin paperback edition turning up in specialty
stores here and there.
Q. Will Steve and Ghost appear in another novel? How about
Eddy Sung from DRAWING BLOOD?
A. Steve and Ghost will certainly turn up from time to time
-- whether in novels, short fiction, or both I don't yet know.
I have no plans to bring back Eddy, but I've given custody of
her to a good friend and very talented writer named Caitlin
Kiernan. Caitlin's short fiction is beginning to appear in major
horror markets. Her first novel THE FIVE OF CUPS will be published
within the year by Transylvania Press, and her second novel
SILK (in which Eddy appears as a major character) is in progress.
Q. Does Missing Mile, NC really exist? I'm a writer; may I
set a story there?
A. Missing Mile isn't on the map as it is usually printed.
In LOST SOULS, Missing Mile was based on my years growing up
in Chapel Hill, NC, a cosmopolitan university town surrounded
by exquisite rural hell. In DRAWING BLOOD, my townie years in
Athens, GA twisted it further. If you want to write about
Missing Mile, go for it, but please credit me as the town's
Q. How can I get started as a writer? Will going to college
A. Everyone who asked me this question had already taken the
first, most important step: reading and writing constantly.
Beyond that, there is no real formula. I started sending out
stories when I was 12, and made my first sale at 18. I'm skeptical
about college -- too many frustrated writers-turned-professors
eager to shoot down young talent -- but it all depends on the
school. My short career at UNC-Chapel Hill did me more harm
than good, but a small, weird college might provide a creative
environment for the writer.
Q. Does Zach in DRAWING BLOOD look like Trent Reznor of Nine
A. Zach's nose is smaller.
Q. Why don't you have more important women characters? I'm
a female reader who isn't solely motivated by men and/or drugs,
and I can't find myself in your work.
A. I have ceased making any attempt to justify the things I
do and don't write about; it's a losing proposition. I believe
a writer's most important task is to follow his/her obsessions,
and an erotic writer must write about what s/he finds erotic.
But one of the first things that interested me about the Courtney
Love project was that I knew it would force me to explore a
strong female character in a way I've never managed to do in
Special thanks to Steve Lanier of Expressions Airbrushed Clothing
for the T-shirt. Steve made me a beautiful T-shirt based on
the cover of DRAWING BLOOD. If you'd like more information about
his products, contact him at 835 Hamrick St., Gaffney, SC 29340.
"When I was five, I wanted to be a coroner; I liked the
idea of cutting open bodies and seeing what was inside. Jeffrey
Dahmer experienced similar fascinations as a young child. He
ended up murdering seventeen young men, dissecting their bodies,
preserving and eating parts of them. I grew up somewhat saner,
but I've never lost my curiosity about such matters. We live
in this exotic construct of flesh and bone and blood; but what
happens if you change this construct through cutting, mutilation,
drawing blood? I never became a coroner or a serial killer,
so to explore these things, I had to begin writing about them."
-- PZB, "The A - Z of Horror," BBC Television