I managed to pose with the lucky face of Hannibal at Mardi Gras World in New Orleans, though I am not sure which of us look most deranged. For the record, I'm not all that fond of liver.
The city experience was bizarre--from the Disneyland quality of the French Quarter to the psychotic bums on the ferry landings, it definitely was rich and ripe and crowded. I don't know how Bourbon Street looked before the hurricanes, but I felt like taking a hot shower after walking through it. I guess if your idea is to get plastered and pickpocketed and pimped on, it's the place to be. Then there was the old guy bumming change on the ferry who said, "We had a storm here, you hear about that?" His world was so small that he didn't realize Katrina had been international news.
One of the topics to come out of the writing retreat was to "craft your author persona." I guess I never really took to the "horror" thing because it felt too hokey as a stage costume, though I love the genre. In talking to industry professionals, I saw the most interest in the Southern Appalachian flavor of the work. So I'm going back to being "The love child of Stephen King and Sharyn McCrumb." Even when I'm straying from the folk-legend stuff, I still use the mountain settings, so there's no real reason to stay gone too long. And that Rebel cap thing is kind of fun and is easier to take off than a spider tattoo on the forehead.