I’m in Atlanta today at the SCBWI’s Southern Breeze Springmingle, Continental canceled my flight after making everyone wait in the airport for six hours, so I don’t have six sentences for you, but I do have something special to share: Mardi Gras was this past Tuesday (in case you live under a rock–or you know, not in the South) and photography is something I really enjoy.

Since much of my book, Want, involves a Mardi Gras mystic society, its parade and ball, I thought I’d show you what I’m talking about.

These are the junior king and queen's trains. They are handmade and personalized for each monarch.

Generally, only men can be marshals (there are exceptions). They lead the society's parade and each float. In the bigger mystic societies, they have personalized capes. At the ball, they ride the horses right into the building. They can be quite scary at night parades.

Top of the grandstands for the friends and family of the society members. Yeah, it's a wee bit exclusive.

Take a good look at these women. They are the wives/girlfriends/sisters/mothers/daughters/fiancees of the members of an all-male mystic society. They play a huge part in "Want."

This is Folly. It has nothing to do with the book; I just really like the way the picture turned out! Also, he's holding pigs' bladders painted silver.

And this rather yummy young man is one of the king's knights. A young Isaac, perhaps?

The king and queen and their paiges.

The king and queen's trains tell the story of their lives so far, and often include a nod to relatives who have also served in the court. They are handmade and I don't even want to think about how much they cost.

I’m so conflicted about the concept of Mardi Gras, and I think Want was a way for me to work through some of that. It’s loads of fun, but the division of the social classes (and races in Mobile, even though it’s mutually consensual) is something I can’t get past. I don’t know if New Orleans’ Mardi Gras carries the same undertones, but I kind of doubt it. This seems to be unique to Mobile, though–of course–we don’t have the monopoly on class/race issues.

As a “damn Yankee,” the whole holiday is mind-boggling.