Google+

Rocket Boy “Homer Hickam”

I am talking today with Rocket Boy Homer Hickam author of several books along with the inspiring film “October Sky”.

How did Rocket Boys begin and what was your inspiration to build rockets which later lead you to become a NASA engineer?

It’s amazing that my memoir Rocket Boys continues to be so popular. I guess it’s my classic, the book I’ll always be remembered for. I’ve gone on to write ten more which have all been received well. Rocket Boys was actually my second book. Torpedo Junction was my first, a national best-seller that came out in 1989 and is still in print. Rocket Boys came about as kind of a fluke. I was asked to write a short article for Smithsonian Air & Space magazine and chose to write about my boyhood days building rockets while growing up in West Virginia. It was received so well, publishers started begging me to expand it to book length which I did. Now, it’s been published in a dozen languages, is read in almost every school system in the United States, and, of course, they made that movie October Sky based on it.

As for why I built rockets as a teenager, I was inspired by the beginning of the space race in the late 1950’s. I also wanted to impress my rather distant father who doted on my older brother, a football star. Rocket Boys has lots of themes and it seems every reader gets something different from it.

Also share with me a little about what type of engineering you did for NASA?

Most of my career with NASA was as a crew training manager which meant I trained astronauts to operate science payloads while in orbit. As I like to say, I had an easy job since astronauts already know everything (or think they do). Periodically, I also helped design spacecraft and space payloads.

I see that you have written several books, I would really like to hear more about your latest book, Red Helmet and what made you come up with the idea for the story?

I’ve never allowed myself to get stuck in one book genre. I’ve written naval history (Torpedo Junction), memoirs (Rocket Boys, The Coalwood Way, Sky of Stone, and We Are Not Afraid), science fiction (Back to the Moon), historical fiction (The Keeper’s Son, The Ambassador’s Son, and The Far Reaches), and now romantic adventure with my latest book, Red Helmet. Publishers don’t really like for their writers to be so genre eclectic since they believe it confuses the readers. But I figure if I’m passionate about whatever I’m writing about, my readers will be, too. So far, that’s worked out. I don’t really know where my stories come from. I guess I just thought it was time to write about a rich, beautiful New York City woman who marries a handsome coal miner and ends up working in the mine herself. It’s romantic, adventurous, and a bit of a mystery story. Quite fun to write and I’m told fun to read, too.

Are there plans to make Red Helmet into a feature film?

Yes, it is in what is called “Development Hell” which means a script is being prepared. We’ll see what happens next. An author is usually the last to know what’s happening to his book in Hollywood.

Tell me what it was like to grow up in a coal mining town and do you ever go back for visits?

I loved growing up in Coalwood, West Virginia. For one thing, it would ultimately provide me a rich heritage and some very interesting people to write about. I go back once a year to support the annual October Sky Festival. I spend the day mostly signing books for the many visitors. Coalwood is only a shadow today of what it was when I grew up there. The mine is gone and most of the people, too. Still, the town is proud of its history and I will always support it as best I can.
Why was the original title “Rocket Boys” changed to an anagram titled “October Sky” and who came up with idea?

The short answer is Universal Studio marketing people thought the original title wouldn’t appeal to women. October Sky is an anagram of Rocket Boys. Try moving the letters around and see. I frankly did not like this change. I think October Sky is a bit insipid as a title but I got overruled.

Do you have plans to make appearances and schedule book signings?

I give speeches about six or seven times a year through my lecture agency, Greater Talent Network. I don’t have time for much more. I try to make “An Evening with Homer Hickam” as much fun as possible by telling stories of life growing up in the coalfields. The audiences respond enthusiastically with lots of laughter and good feeling. I also go out on book tour when necessary. I have two books coming out in 2010 so I’ll see everybody on the road!

One last question, I’ve heard that you enjoy dinosaur hunting, tell me a little about that?

My next novel is titled “The Dinosaur Hunter” and is set in the Montana ranch lands where I go every summer to hunt dinosaur bones. The people who live out there are fascinating and I’ve formed an attachment with them. The dinosaurs are also wily beasts but I’ve had good luck tracking them down. I’ve been credited with finding two Tyrannosaurs so far along with numerous other types of dinos.

I would like to thank Homer for the wonderful interview.

To find out more information about Homer and his writings: go to:
www.homerhickam.com

Entertainment

Mob Wheelman Puts Pedal to the Metal in Adrenaline-Fueled Blockbuster

  Baby Driver Film Review by Kam Williams Mob Wheelman Puts Pedal to the Metal in Adrenaline-Fueled Blockbuster All you really need to know about Baby Driver is that it's the best film of the year so far, hands down. The picture was written and directed by Edgar Wright, who is best known for a trio of British comedies starring Simon Pegg: Shaun of the Dead (2004), Hot Fuzz (2007) and The World's End (2013). Wright ventured across the … [Read More its Good for You.....]

Books

Gil’s Goodwill!

  Gil Robertson The “Book of Black Heroes” Interview with Kam Williams Gil's Goodwill! For nearly three decades, writer/author Gil L. Robertson, IV has used the written word to enlighten, empower and uplift. The one-time political organizer initially made his mark in entertainment journalism, penning over 50 national magazine covers and contributing bylines to a wide range of publications that include the Los Angeles Times, the Atlanta … [Read More its Good for You...]

Art

The Day After the Day Of

  The Day After the Day Of by Paul Ilechko   The sky sheds its tears. This morning is the morning of the day after. The day of mourning, the day after the day of.  I beseech the sky to shed tears in order to wash away the tears on my face.   This is the first day of the time after. This is the beginning of a new time, the days of pain, the days of sorrow. We are in mourning. The sky looks down and sheds its tears for … [Read More its Good For You...]

Real Estate

How to Hire a Winner in Real Estate

  How to Hire a Winner in Real Estate by Amy Lignor   You want to buy that new house because the twins are on their way. Little Betty and Little John are already there, but who knew you would have even more so soon? What’s that? Oh…well, of course, in order to buy that new home with four bedrooms instead of two, you will also need to sell your present homestead in order to get the money needed to start paying on a new one. And, of … [Read More its Good for You.....]

Lifestyle

Ejogo’s Largo!

    Carmen Ejogo The “It Comes at Night” Interview with Kam Williams Ejogo's Largo! Carmen Ejogo has established a distinguished career in both feature films and television. She is best known thus far for her leading role of civil rights activist ‘Coretta Scott King’ opposite David Oyelowo in Ava DuVernay's universally acclaimed SELMA as well as being singled out for her ‘mind-blowing’ lead role as Sister in SPARKLE alongside … [Read More its Good for You...]

Outdoors

Fishing for swordfish in Louisiana? You bet

  Fishing for swordfish in Louisiana? You bet by Craig Lamb The Mississippi River delta and surrounding offshore waters are without a doubt some of the richest fishing waters in the world. Venice, Louisiana, is the hub for reaching the richest saltwater game fish waters in the U.S. Yellowfin tuna. Snapper. Grouper. Wahoo. Dolphin. Marlin. And lately, there are swordfish. If you want to experience the latest hot trend in Louisiana … [Read More its Good for You...]

Sports

You Don’t Have to be Greek to be a “Zorba” Fanatic

  You Don’t Have to be Greek to be a “Zorba” Fanatic by Amy Lignor   No, the sport is not called ‘Zorba’, but it most definitely fits for this article’s title. This most unusual sport is actually called ‘Zorbing’, and has caught on like wildfire across the globe. And now, seeing as that the NBA has wrapped, with Golden State proving that they were determined to make amends for last season; and with the NHL closing up shop for the season … [Read More its Good for You...]

Business

Add Value with Summer Home Renovation Projects

  Add Value with Summer Home Renovation Projects by Amy Lignor   There are a whole list of summer activities for you and the kids planned. Most of them, of course, you want to be nothing but fun, such as grilling outside on the patio or swimming in the pool. However, having the backyard pool and patio are two things you really need in place before either of those activities could be enjoyed. And building this area could be a great … [Read More its Good for You...]

Travel

Finding Relaxation in the Most Remote Locations of All

    Finding Relaxation in the Most Remote Locations of All by Amy Lignor   It is a fact that the largest travel locations are also beyond popular. Among the downsides of this fact is that when you’re looking for peace, quiet, and basically a chance to do nothing more than spend time with yourself and, perhaps, one other best friend, the most popular places don’t offer that. In other words, it is the most remote (sometimes most … [Read More its Good for You...]

Green Living

Creating the Perfect Vegetable Garden

  Creating the Perfect Vegetable Garden by Amy Lignor   Many are still dealing with that wintery mix Mother Nature just loves to toss down from the sky this time of year. Yet, that gardener living inside the soul – the one just dreaming of the sunny skies and lazy rainy days that are must-haves in order to grow the best vegetables possible – is already jotting down the facts, tricks and tips they need to know in order to make that … [Read More its Good for You...]