When Kent Wascom published his debut novel, The Blood of Heaven, in 2013, readers witnessed the arrival of a visionary writer, one in his twenties but already likened to Faulkner and Cormac McCarthy. Wascom announced his ambitions from the outset: he is at work on a sextet of novels that chronicles the emotional, cultural and factual history of America’s Gulf Coast.
This project recalls the scope of William T. Vollmann’s Seven Dreams cycle, which records the settling of North America through a variety of settings and casts of characters. Now, the second volume of Wascom's sextet, Secessia, set in Civil War New Orleans, has been published.
One of our favorite American writers of this generation, Wascom is a gifted storyteller and prose stylist. We second the sentiments of Orange Prize winner Valerie Martin: “Secessia should be greeted with trumpets and fanfare. I haven’t read a novel this exciting in a long, long time.”
The Blood of Heaven was longlisted for the Flaherty-Dunnan Award and was named a best book of the year by National Public Radio and the Washington Post. Wascom also has received the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival Prize for Fiction.
In late October 2015, Sacred Trespasses caught up with Kent Wascom at the Louisiana Book Festival in Baton Rouge. He sat down with us to talk about writing historical fiction, the joys and surprises of research, and to read a passage from Secessia.