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

Bittersweet Prodigal Daughter Parable Arrives on DVD

  The Levelling DVD Review by Kam Williams Bittersweet Prodigal Daughter Parable Arrives on DVD It's not very clear whether Harry Catto's (Joe Blakemore) death was a murder or a suicide. One thing's for certain, though. It wasn't merely a mishap, because nobody accidentally sticks a gun in his own mouth and pulls the trigger. The cops suspect that he killed himself, but his father (David Troughton) is too much in shock to press them to … [Read More its Good for You.....]

Books

Cop under Fire

  Cop under Fire Moving Beyond Hashtags of Race, Crime and Politics for a Better America by Sheriff David Clarke, Jr. with Nancy French Foreword by Sean Hannity Worthy Publishing Hardcover, $21.99 272 pages ISBN: 978-1-617-95857-1 Book Review by Kam Williams “David Clarke refuses to bow a knee to political correctness, and he refuses to give his party over to the hands of black activists whose politics would destroy America. … [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

History Being Sold to the Highest Bidder

  History Being Sold to the Highest Bidder by Amy Lignor   For the longest time, scientists and archaeologists have been confused and bemused by various discoveries they’ve unearthed that offer little or no explanation as to the who, what, and why of the people who created these things or left them behind. Even now, in 2017, there are discoveries being studied; stories that were once legends now have actual bits of proof being found that … [Read More its Good for You.....]

Lifestyle

Finding a Hobby that Fits Your Personality

  Finding a Hobby that Fits Your Personality by Amy Lignor   Although there are many out there who turn to their computers or cell phones as their hobby, there are just as many others who want to be more creative. They want to learn something new and fun to do in their spare time. They’re not looking for cash, they’re looking for a way to relax and ‘get away’ from the daily grind. Of course, when it comes to choosing the right hobby, … [Read More its Good for You...]

Outdoors

Go Tripletail for Tasty Fare, Sporting Challenge

  Go Tripletail for Tasty Fare, Sporting Challenge By Craig Lamb Catching the tastiest inshore fish of them all, while fishing for a species that is a master of disguise. You get that challenge and reap the benefits at the table when fishing for tripletail. The tripletail gets its name from the dimensions and placement of the dorsal and anal fins, which resemble additional tails. The tripletail has a triangular head with the eyes on top … [Read More its Good for You...]

Sports

“Sin City” Becomes Acceptable?

  “Sin City” Becomes Acceptable? by Amy Lignor   So…what changes will occur if an NFL team hits Las Vegas? Not many, actually. Perhaps more of the ‘contract money’ will be lost considering the blackjack tables ARE right in the vicinity; however, NFL owners seem just fine with the fact that the Raiders will once again wave good-bye to their “Nation” and relocate to Sin City. But when you look at the news headlines, the NFL has and … [Read More its Good for You...]

Business

Making Money Online

  Making Money Online by Amy Lignor   Yes…there are books, audiotapes, videos on YouTube, seminars, webinars and every other ‘nar’ you can possibly think of that offer up information on how YOU can be a millionaire using nothing but your own home computer. Of course, if wealth were that easy, no one would be clogging the highways on Monday morning. They would be home in their robe enjoying the day and counting their oodles and … [Read More its Good for You...]

Travel

Travel: Leaving the Commonplace Behind

  Travel: Leaving the Commonplace Behind By Amy Lignor   What is the definition of a vacation? Well, there are those living in the snow who believe their vacation should come along with the warmest beach and a few fancy drinks with little umbrellas in them so they can relax before heading back to the deep-freeze. There are also those who sit at desks all day and dream of a vacation that allows them to hike those trails in the Great … [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...]