Poppy Z. Brite (born Melissa Ann Brite, now going by Billy Martin) is an American author born in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Born a biological female, Brite has written and talked much about his gender dysphoria/gender identity issues. He self-identifies almost completely as a homosexual male rather than female, and as of 2011 has started taking testosterone injections. His male name is Billy Martin.

He lived in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and Athens, Georgia prior to returning to New Orleans in 1993. He loves UNC basketball and is a sometime season ticket holder for the NBA, but he saves his greatest affection for his hometown football team, the New Orleans Saints.

Brite and husband Chris DeBarr, a chef, run a de facto cat rescue and have, at any given time, between fifteen and twenty cats. Photos of the various felines are available on the “Cats” page of Brite’s website. They have been known to have a few dogs and perhaps a snake as well in the menagerie. They are no longer together.

During Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Brite at first opted to stay at home, but he eventually abandoned New Orleans and his cats and relocated 80 miles away to his mother’s home in Mississippi. He used his blog to update his fans regarding the situation, including the unknown status of his house and many of his pets, and in October 2005 became one of the first 70,000 New Orleanians to begin repopulating the city.

In the following months, Brite has been an outspoken and sometimes harsh critic of those who are leaving New Orleans for good. He was quoted in the New York Times and elsewhere as saying, in reference to those considering leaving, “If you’re ever lucky enough to belong somewhere, if a place takes you in and you take it into yourself, you don’t desert it just because it can kill you. There are things more valuable than life.”

Books

Lost Souls

Lost Souls

At a club in Missing Mile, N.C., the children of the night gather, dressed in black, looking for acceptance. Among them are Ghost, who sees what others do not. Ann, longing for love, and Jason, whose real name is Nothing, newly awakened to an ancient, deathless truth about his father, and himself.

Others are coming to Missing Mile tonight. Three beautiful, hip vagabonds – Molochai, Twig, and the seductive Zillah (whose eyes are as green as limes) are on their own lost journey; slaking their ancient thirst for blood, looking for supple young flesh.

They find it in Nothing and Ann, leading them on a mad, illicit road trip south to New Orleans. Over miles of dark highway, Ghost pursues, his powers guiding him on a journey to reach his destiny, to save Ann from her new companions, to save Nothing from himself…

Exquisite Corpse

Exquisite Corpse

To serial slayer Andrew Compton, murder is an art, the most intimate art. After feigning his own death to escape from prison, Compton makes his way to the United States with the sole ambition of bringing his “art” to new heights. Tortured by his own perverse desires, and drawn to possess and destroy young boys, Compton inadvertently joins forces with Jay Byrne, a dissolute playboy who has pushed his “art” to limits even Compton hadn’t previously imagined. Together, Compton and Byrne set their sights on an exquisite young Vietnamese-American runaway, Tran, whom they deem to be the perfect victim.

Swiftly moving from the grimy streets of London’s Piccadilly Circus to the decadence of the New Orleans French Quarter, and punctuated by rants from radio talk show host Lush Rimbaud, a.k.a. Luke Ransom, Tran’s ex-lover, who is dying of AIDS and who intends to wreak ultimate havoc before leaving this world, Exquisite Corpse unfolds into a labyrinth of murder and love. Ultimately all four characters converge on a singular bloody night after which their lives will be irrevocably changed — or terminated.

Poppy Z. Brite dissects the landscape of torture and invites us into the mind of a killer. Exquisite Corpse confirms Brite as a writer who defies categorization. It is a novel for those who dare trespass where the sacred and profane become one.

If you want something, you don’t wait for the world to deal it out for you. You take it.

— Poppy Z Brite, Lost Souls

You hold onto what you have; you do not give it up easily, even when you know it is poisoning you.

— Poppy Z Brite, Wormwood: A Collection of Short Stories

Why bother? I was right all along: the second you make yourself vulnerable to someone, they start drawing blood.

— Poppy Z Brite

When you have too much faith in something, it’s bound to hurt you. Too much faith in anything will suck you dry. In this way, all the world is a vampire.

— Poppy Z Brite

The night is the hardest time to be alive and 4am knows all my secrets.

— Poppy Z Brite

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