Homer Hickam, a southern W.Va. native and author of best-selling novel, “Rocket Boys,” has a new novel, “Carrying Albert Home,” that is scheduled for worldwide release in the month of October.
“Carrying Albert Home,” is the “mostly true” story of a favorite family legend. Hickam describes the novel as a “story about love and triumph.”
“It is the story of my parents in the 1930’s when they carried an alligator to Florida,” Hickam explained.
“My mother had moved to Florida after graduation and had a romance with actor, Buddy Ebsen. She eventually moved back and married my father. Buddy had sent the alligator as a wedding gift to my mother to remind her of their time in Florida. When the alligator became too big my mother agreed to no longer keep it as a pet on the condition that she would return the alligator to Florida,” Hickam continued.
Hickam explained the importance of telling the story of his parents. He felt that his parents were mischaracterized in the movie “October Sky,” which was based on the “Rocket Boys” novel.
“This gave me the opportunity to let people know the true story of my parents. My dad was a strong intellectual and my mother was not as weak as she was portrayed in ‘October Sky.’ Telling the story allowed me to tell more about who they were,” Hickam said.
Hickam hopes the book tells the story of his parents in a way that wasn’t portrayed in “Rocket Boys.” Hickam said, “A lot of the story was about a boy desperate for his father’s love. I hope this book explains why my father was reluctant to give love to anyone and why the woman in the book was the way she was as well.”
Telling the story of the West Virginia coalfields is important to Hickam. “I think there are so many stereotypes. It has been my ambition to refute that stereotype. I go against the norm of most Coal Field literature. I always try to tell a positive story about the people,” Hickam explained.
In a recent interview with the Williamson Daily News, Hickam addressed the importance of telling family legends and the role it plays in shaping identity.
Hickam said, “When we tell family legends in the coalfields; we have a reason to tell it. We find out who we are. Telling family legends helps you know who you are and how you fit in the family and world. This novel is an example of a family legend told to a worldwide audience. It is a West Virginia family legend that has gone out to the world and I hope West Virginians will embrace it. I encourage everyone to tell family legends. I hope it will start a new genre called Family Legends.”
Ultimately, Hickam anticipates the novel to do well. “I had a lot of fun writing it. I think that it will be bigger than ‘Rocket Boys.’ People who liked the humorous parts of ‘Rocket Boys,’ will love “Carrying Albert Home.” I hope people will embrace the novel and consider it a ‘West Virginia’ book. It is about who we are,” Hickam explained.
Hickam has book signings planned for parts of Southern W.Va. This Saturday, he will be at the Rocket Boys Festival. Although the book has not yet been released, there will be a limited number of books available at this event. He is also scheduled to attend the West Virginia Book Festival Oct. 24 at the Charleston Civic Center. “Carrying Albert Home,” is the only book that will be available for signing on that day.
For more information about Homer Hickam and “Carrying Albert Home,” visit www.homerhickam.com.
(Courtney Pigman is a news reporter for the Williamson Daily News. She can be contacted at [email protected], or at 304-235-4242, ext. 2279.)