"I never thought about writing a young adult novel. My publisher asked me about it, and I said, 'Why not?'"
The science fiction novel is about a teenager named Crater Trueblood, who lives and works on the moon. He mines an isotope called Helium 3.
"What I wanted to do was set it on the moon because I've always been fascinated with the moon," Hickam said.
"'Crater' is a story where we get to see a naïve teenage boy realize that not everyone is looking out for him." he noted.
He explained that he set the story 120 years into the future so his teenagers did not have to be like teens today. He said he doesn't know very much about today's teenagers, so he decided he could make his own in the future.
Hickam also talked about "Rocket Boys the Musical," which premiered last year at Theatre West Virginia in Raleigh County. He mentioned that it would be back in the state later this year. (It runs Aug. 1-16 at Theatre West Virginia.)
Speaking of the Rocket Boys, Hickam was asked what he and the other Rocket Boys talked about when they got together. "We mostly are doing our level best to avoid Quentin [Wilson]," he joked.
"We talk about family and worry about Coalwood and McDowell County," he added.
Hickam said that people are uniformly nice when they see him outside of West Virginia. They mostly know him for "Rocket Boys," although he said he has to apologize to a few women for not actually being Jake Gyllenhaal, who played him in "October Sky," the movie based on the book.
During his speech, Hickam made jokes and had fun. He was very friendly and easygoing and seemed to really enjoy being here.