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From the Mountains to the Sea

A friend and I were recently chit-chatting about a newly published Appalachian author from West Virginia who is making big waves with a new book, and about how that state produces top-notch authors with regularity---like an assembly line. I’m talking about Kenny Wayne Fields, a retired U.S Navy jet pilot….


“The Rescue of Streetcar 304”---A Navy Pilot’s Forty Hours on the Run in Laos is a true story about his miraculous and heroic rescue from what appeared to be certain death in the jungle during the Vietnam War, and it’s literally a spine tingling, heart wrenching story that “you can’t put it down once you start reading it”. And, the author’s writing style seems eerily similar to two other “best selling”, authors from West Virginia---Homer Hickam and Stephen Coonts. Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but both Fields and Hickam were born and raised and attended the same high school in the late 50’s in the harsh southern mountains and coal fields of McDowell County, and Coonts was raised only a couple of hours away. All three served in Vietnam at about the same time so the similarity between the three is more than just literary.

KennyKenny told me that, “yes, he was born and raised in one of the deep hollows wedged among the steep hardwood laden hillsides near a place called Bartley”, and that, “his Dad was a coalminer”. “But, even so”, Kenny says, “Proper grammar was constantly pounded into his, and the other two author’s heads by teachers who were pros, and “the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic were drummed into him”. It’s obvious that the simple, tried and true approach used by West Virginia schools in the 40’s and 50’s paid dividends because Fields and Coonts became Navy jet pilots and Hickam was a NASA engineer. And, now, all three are successful authors as well. “Well done”, West Virginia teachers….

You can read more about Kenny and his new book, “The Rescue of Streetcar 304” on the book website at, or as Kenny says, “Get a copy at your local bookstore or on-line….”

Kenny"The Rescue of Streetcar 304" is Kenny's first published book, but he is currently at work on his second one, titled "Petey".  In it, three friends grow up roaming the mountains of Appalachia and become high school sports stars, and share at different times the same sweethearts. All three initially take advantage of the offer to play at the collegiate level, but at that point their lives take sharply divergent paths.