NASA Rocket Scientists Commemorated at the Library of Congress ©Author Adventures

Homer Hickam, West Virginia’s Star Writer

No literary tour of West Virginia would be complete without a visit to, which lends itself to the appeal of visiting the author’s bygone hometown. But this stop is recommended only to the most serious fans, because the location requires a challenging drive and not much remains to see. Start with a look at the tour on the Coalwood website at: If you decide to brave it, be aware that the road to Coalwood must be taken with caution and patience.

While much of the Coalwood of Homer Hickam’s childhood no longer exists, visitors can still use the map to find a few places of significance — where they are now or where they once stood. The population there has experienced a severe depletion since 1950.

His Writing

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 A list of his books is here:

The book itself earned numerous literary accolades. According to “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.

Patricia Smart