Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Mansions, margaritas and crocogators

Or: What I Did On My Holidays

So I've been busy for a while, what with the release of Impossible Things and (amongst a whole load of boring real life stuff) organising my trip to New Orleans for the RT Booklovers Convention. Oh, and writing my new book. I keep forgetting about that one.

Me, doing my best impression of the Chosen
at the Impossible Things launch

The book launch went really well: a great turn-out, a great evening, and we even raised over £100 for Guide Dogs for the Blind--which as anyone who's read Impossible Things will know, is tremendously relevant to the story.

I've also had some really lovely reviews for the book, including a C+ from Dear Author--which as any DA reader knows is pretty damn good! (hell, it's the highest grade I got on my A Levels, so I'm really not complaining)

And so to New Orleans! I've never been to the RT convention before--RWA, yes, several times, but not RT. I'd heard it was bigger and madder than RWA, which in turn is bigger and madder than any of the UK events I've been to. I'd heard right. But who could resist The Big Easy?

Not me! I spent a few days there, acclimatising--and not just to the weather, which threw everything in its tropical arsenal at us, thunderstorms included--and seeing the sights. What sights!

We stayed in the French Quarter, which I believe is the oldest part of New Orleans. Due to things like fire, flood and war, most of the buildings are only a couple of hundred years old--although one, Madam John's Legacy (the green-painted building with the white shutters) , is held to be the oldest building in the city, and has been used frequently for filming (Claudia's feeding frenzy in Interview With a Vampire, much of which was filmed in New Orleans; and more recently the slave auction in Twelve Years a Slave).

The French Quarter is home to Bourbon Street, which reminded me a bit of Austin's Sixth Street, and a bit of the Vegas Strip, and a bit of why New Orleans has a reputation as a party town! 

We toured the Laura Plantation, which was a fascinating recreation of a Creole plantation run by four generations of women. The house has been restored to the brightly painted Creole style, after it had been painted white when Louisiana tried to homogenise its culture.

We even went on a swamp tour, travelling through a bayou absolutely swimming with alligators. They were actually quite sweet--reminding of nothing so much as eager dogs moseying up for a treat. Our guide threw marshmallows into the water to get their attention--gators will investigate anything white on the surface, which is why if you ever knock a golf ball into a swamp, you should probably just leave it there.

I even got to hold a baby gator--well, a 5yr old. Her mouth was taped, because an alligator has very weak muscles for opening her mouth. They're all about snapping it shut!

We toured the Garden District, which is terribly beautiful, full of wide avenues and the most envy-inducing mansions. The main shopping streets have a relaxed, artsy atmosphere, with brewpubs and indie shops.

We travelled on a streetcar--no, it wasn't called Desire, but there did used to be a line running to Desire Street, which is where Mr Williams got his title from.

 New Orleans is famous for its above-ground cemeteries--well, if you lived somewhere with a water table that high you wouldn't bury people underground, either! St Louis No.1 is one of the most famous, and it's right in the middle of the city.

Another thing the city is known for is the motto: Laissez le bon temps roulez! And staying about twenty yards from Bourbon Street, we did just that with a drink or two...
 ...or three...
 ...or four...
...or five...

And finally onto the convention! Where, alas, I was far too busy to take pictures, but here someone was kind enough to take one of the Choc Lit team. L-R: Christina Courtenay, Sue Moorcroft, me, Liz Harris, Janet Gover, and a friendly bookseller!

I also presented my first ever workshop: Some Assembly Required: A Whedonite's Guide to Characterisation, which with the help of my good friend JT Bock, went really well! Over the next few days I'll put up some of my notes from it.

Phew! Now, I think to get over that I might be in need of a little holiday...

No comments:

Post a Comment