Billy Martin (formerly known and published under the name Poppy Z. Brite; born May 25, 1967) is an American author. Early in his career, he wrote several horror novels that appealed heavily to mid-1990s Goth sensibilities (and to a lesser extent, the early hacker subculture) known for their violent imagery, their baroque-verging-on-Purple Prose, and their frequently homosexual and bisexual casts of characters. After two successful novels of this type—Lost Souls and Drawing Blood—as well as several similarly-themed short story collections, Martin found himself feeling bored and limited by both the genre and negative critical reviews claiming that Martin himself was "typecast" as an author of Goth novels. The final straw came when his contracted third novel, Exquisite Corpse (about a pair of gay serial killers in love), was declined by both his American and UK publishers as being "too nihilistic" and "a bloodbath without justification." While the book eventually found a publisher, this experience, along with other behind-the-scenes issues in the publishing world, drove him to seek a break from horror writing.
Martin, a serious foodie familiar with New Orleans restaurant culture, branched out into the LIQUOR series, which revolved around two gay line cooks, Ricky and G-Man, who open a restaurant (the titular LIQUOR) in which every dish is themed around a different type of alcohol. While the series developed a modest following and was well-known for its luscious Food Porn (seriously, don't read while hungry), it was not a critical success. Martin has indicated that he felt further demoralized by the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, unable to write stories set in his beloved New Orleans after witnessing the destruction. This combination of events caused Martin to announce his retirement from publishing, while stressing that writing is still a part of his identity.
Long known as a transgender man, he later began his public transition process and announced his preference male pronouns. In mid-2012, he began using his current name, though his previous works are still published under his professional name of Poppy Z. Brite. While still being officially retired, he has on occasion independently published short stories in chapbook and ebook formats.
- Lost Souls
- Wormwood (also published under the title Swamp Foetus) - short story collection
- Drawing Blood
- Exquisite Corpse
- The Crow: The Lazarus Heart
- Are You Loathsome Tonight?
- Plastic Jesus - novella
- Wrong Things - with Caitlín R. Kiernan
- The Value of X - novella; prequel to the LIQUOR series
- The Devil You Know - short story collection
- "Stay Awake" - short story; final appearance of Steve and Ghost from Lost Souls
- Triads - with Christa Faust
- Soul Kitchen
- Antediluvian Tales - short stories written post-Hurricane Katrina
- Dead Shrimp Blues - incomplete draft of final LIQUOR novel, released to Patreon supporters
- Water If God Wills It: Religion and Spirituality in the Works of Stephen King - nonfiction, released to Patreon supporters
This author's work provides examples of:
- The Big Easy: Characters are frequently either from New Orleans, going to New Orleans, or like to talk about that one time they were in New Orleans.
- Cast Full of Gay: The lead characters of Drawing Blood are gay men falling in love. Conversely, the baddy vampires of Lost Souls are likewise gay and in a committed threesome that turns into a foursome, then later, back to a threesome. All four main characters in Exquisite Corpse are gay, and there are plenty of gay side-characters and gay/bisexual encounters throughout all the novels and many of the short stories (Plastic Jesus, notably, asks the eternal question "What if The Beatles never broke up, and also John Lennon and Paul McCartney were boyfriends?")
- Everyone Is Bi: Practically everyone who doesn't fall under Cast Full of Gay is at least casually bisexual.
- Food Porn: All the Liquor novels.
- Gender-Blender Name: Zillah is a Biblical, female name, used for a male vampire.
- Purple Prose: There's a lot of lovingly described gore. Much ink is expended on descriptions of things like kudzu, trash in gutters, and whatever the characters are wearing, too. Averted with the Liquor series, which is written in a noticeably less florid style.
- Write What You Know: Food. Restaurants. The Goth scene. New Orleans. The strip-club business. Voodoo.