MILTON — Homer Hickam said his newest book release compresses 40 years into 400 pages.
“Don’t Blow Yourself Up,” a sequel to his most famous work published more than 20 years ago, “Rocket Boys,” was officially released Oct. 26, and Hickam took the opportunity to return to his home state of West Virginia to promote it last month.
“I could have just sat down and wrote the sequel at that moment, but I realized that ‘Rocket Boys’ was so beloved by all these millions of people and then with the success of the movie, I really didn’t want to get in the way of any of that,” Hickam said.
The book covers his time working for NASA, the years leading up to the publishing of “Rocket Boys” and the development of the movie “October Sky,” which is based on the book. It also includes stories and tales left untold in the original book.
His vast experience in the space realm led to Hickam partnering with Adams Hallmark to set up a scholarship for a West Virginia student to attend Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama, where he serves on the organizing board.
Hickam appeared in several Adams Hallmark stores last month for book signings and to spread the word about the scholarship opportunity.
“There are several scholarships available for Space Camp,” Hickam says, “but none that is just for West Virginia kids.”
A contribution will be made by Adams Hallmark to the scholarship fund with every purchase of Hickam’s new memoir, with Hickam also contributing to the scholarship fund for West Virginia students. The scholarship will be named the Mike Adams Space Camp Scholarship.
On his tour of West Virginia, he made stops in Clarksburg, Morgantown, Meadowbrook, Vienna, Charleston, Milton and Huntington. The trip included four stops at West Virginia middle schools.
“Generally I talk to high schoolers or at the college level, so it was a challenge because I didn’t know quite what would happen,” Hickam said. “They’ve been very attentive and asked great questions afterward. I don’t know if that’s a West Virginia thing or what, but all the kids have been great.”
Hickam was raised in Coalwood, West Virginia. He graduated from Big Creek High School in 1960 and from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute (Virginia Tech) in 1964 with a BS degree in industrial engineering. A U.S. Army veteran, Hickam served as a first lieutenant in the Fourth Infantry Division in Vietnam in 1967-1968, where he won the Army Commendation and Bronze Star medals. He served six years on active duty, leaving the service with the rank of captain.