Homer Hickam was guest host of #LitChat on January 4, 2015. Read the chatscript here.Homer Hickam

Big Fish meets The Notebook in this emotionally evocative story about a man, a woman, and an alligator that is a moving tribute to love, from Homer Hickam, the New York Times bestselling author of the award-winning memoir Rocket Boys—the basis of the movie October Sky.

Elsie Lavender and Homer Hickam (the father of the author) were high school classmates in the West Virginia coalfields, graduating just as the Great Depression began. When Homer asked for her hand, Elsie instead headed to Orlando where she sparked with a dancing actor named Buddy Ebsen (yes, that Buddy Ebsen). Carrying Albert HomeBut when Buddy headed for New York, Elsie’s dreams of a life with him were crushed and eventually she found herself back in the coalfields, married to Homer.

Unfulfilled as a miner’s wife, Elsie was reminded of her carefree days with Buddy every day because of his unusual wedding gift: an alligator named Albert she raised in the only bathroom in the house. When Albert scared Homer by grabbing his pants, he gave Elsie an ultimatum: “Me or that alligator!” After giving it some thought, Elsie concluded there was only one thing to do: Carry Albert home.

Carrying Albert Home is the funny, sweet, and sometimes tragic tale of a young couple and a special alligator on a crazy 1,000-mile adventure. Told with the warmth and down-home charm that made Rocket Boys a beloved bestseller, Homer Hickam’s rollicking tale is ultimately a testament to that strange and marvelous emotion we inadequately call love.

Homer Hickam (also known as Homer H. Hickam, Jr.) is probably best known for his New York Times bestselling memoir Rocket Boys which was adapted into the movie October Sky (a title he dislikes). Carrying Albert Home, his latest, is somewhat of a prequel to that work but, as he says, “somewhat not.” He is also the author of the popular “Josh Thurlow” and “Crater” series. Winner of the University of Alabama’s Clarence Cason Award and the Appalachian Heritage Writer’s Award for his memoirs and fiction plus many other writing awards including an honorary Doctorate of Literature from Marshall University, Mr. Hickam, a Vietnam combat veteran, has also been a coal miner, scuba instructor, engineer, paleontologist (two T.rexes to his credit), and now a best-selling author. It’s that latter accomplishment he likes the best.