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 the U.K.

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) read."


PZB has signed a contract with HarperCollins to edit a companion volume to her erotic vampire anthology LOVE IN VEIN, titled RAZOR KISS.


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 / mojo@eden.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 & Graf.

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 marybeth@well.com or pmsdawn@well.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 are good.

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 creator.

Q. How can I get started as a writer? Will going to college help?

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 Inch Nails?

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 fiction.

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