Birmingham News: ‘Rocket Boys’ author Homer Hickam to speak in DeKalb County

by Kelly Kazek
April 26, 2013New Picture (2)

DEKALB COUNTY, Alabama – Best-selling author Homer Hickam of Huntsville, best known for his book “Rocket Boys,” will speak in DeKalb County May 10 in conjunction with the presentation of an award in a writing contest he helped judge.

Hickam will speak to students at Fort Payne High School in the afternoon before holding a public book signing from 3 to 4 p.m. at The Book Shelf. He then will give a brief talk at Lookout 2013, a dinner event at Cook Castle that will celebrate area tourism and the Lookout Mountain region’s heritage and growing economic potential.

“We are very excited to have Homer Hickam visit our area and especially to have him speak to students at Fort Payne High School,” said Randy Grider, publisher of Lookout Alabama. “His story is an inspiration to everyone. He grew up in a small town that relied on one industry as the backbone of the economy. He understands the challenges Fort Payne has faced with the decline of the hosiery mills.”

Local tourism and economic development officials, business and government leaders also will attend the dinner. Nisa Miranda, director of the University of Alabama Center for Economic Development, will give a keynote address. Lookout Alabama magazine, host of the dinner, helped sponsor the writing contest along with the Southeastern Literary Tourism Initiative, DeKalb Tourism and Greater Gadsden Area Tourism.

Alabama Sen. Clay Scofield, chair of the state Tourism and Marketing Committee, will present the winner of the contest with a check for $500 from the Alabama Department of Tourism. The goal of the writing contest is to promote tourism through fictional short stories featuring real places in the Lookout Mountain region.

The dinner is also sponsored by Kamama, GH Metal Solutions, the Cancer Care Center of DeKalb, Mentone Realty and Pioneer Bridges.

Hickam, the author of more than a dozen books, was an engineer for the U.S. Army Missile Command from 1971 to 1981 assigned to Huntsville and Germany. He began working as an aerospace engineer at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in 1981, where he helped design spacecraft and train astronauts.

His memoir “Rocket Boys” was made into the 1998 film “October Sky,” starring Jake Gyllenhaal.