Homer Hickam, West Virginia’s Star Writer
No literary tour of West Virginia would be complete without a visit to homerhickam.com, which lends itself to a desire to visit the author’s bygone hometown.
This stop is recommended only to the most serious fans, however, because the location requires a challenging drive and not much is left to see. Start with a look at the tour on the Coalwood website at: coalwoodwestvirginia.com/coalwood.htm. The road to Coalwood must be taken with caution and patience.
Much of the Coalwood of Homer Hickam’s childhood no longer exists, sadly, but visitors can still use the coalwoodwestvirigina.com map to find a few places of significance — where they are now or where they once stood. The census has not counted the population since 1990 when it was approximately 900, down from more than 100,000 in 1950.
Homer Hickam (1943- ) writes many books and one of them, Rocket Boys (1998), was used as a basis for the popular feature film October Sky, which starred Jake Gyllenhaal and Laura Dern. Like many films, its story is different from the one in the book, but both are great choices. Rocket Boys has all the same letters as October Sky and there’s a reason. Read more at homerhickam.com. A list of his books is here: https://homerhickam.com/books.
The book itself earned many literary honors> According to homerhickam.com: “Among it’s many honors, it was selected by the New York Times as one of its ‘Great Books of 1998’ and was an alternate ‘Book-of-the-Month’ selection for both the Literary Guild and Doubleday book clubs. Rocket Boys was also nominated by the National Book Critics Circle as Best Biography of 1998.”
A “Rocket Boys Festival” occurs at the end of September in nearby Beckley. Read about it here: Rocket Boys Festival.
Coalwood is the final stop on our West Virginia Author Adventures Trail.