Why I wrote my coming-of-age book ...
Updated: May 19, 2020
According to a survey referenced in The New York Times, 82% of Americans think they "have a book in them." I guess I'm one of them.
I started The Father, Son, and Holy Shuttle: Growing Up an Astronaut Kid in the Glorious 80s because of the realization that I had lived a pretty unusual childhood. While my father's profession as an astronaut is the thing most people will think of when considering the unique coming-of-age I experienced, my childhood was perhaps more unusual because of the extent to which I felt loved and supported in a quirky, but tight-knit, family. I was fortunate.
In my book, I note that Norman Rockwell was married three times and treated for depression throughout his live. Rockwell's psychiatrist wrote a biography of the painter long after he died and said that Rockwell painted his happiness, he didn't live it. I got to live mine. And in a world of books about addiction, abuse, and heartache, I thought that a story of humor, family, and love would be a welcome change of pace. Given the COVID crisis, maybe that's more true than I thought.
While my hope is that many people find my story funny, relatable, and educational, I also started my manuscript for deeply personal reasons. My father's memoir made me realize the power of creating a written summary of my own life that could be shared with my own children. My manuscript doesn't cover all of my life (fun fact: a memoir is a book about part of a life, a biography is a book about an entire life), but it is a window into a formative few years that I think will help my own children know me just a bit better and will ensure that those who come generations after me have a chance to see what life was like for Patrick Mullane in the latter part of the 20th century.
Finally, the unique perspective I had on the early days of America's space shuttle program spoke to me the older I got. It's hard to appreciate that you are "in" history while it's being made. It's true for all of us no matter our background. We all contribute to the narrative of the world, in big ways and small, as the wake of our existence affects the people and events around us. Those that were part of the TFNG astronaut group (acronym explained on page 81 of the book) didn't garner the attention that the moonwalkers did. But they did some things that Apollo astronauts could only have dreamed of - like use a toilet in space and fly via jet-pack untethered from a spacecraft - and provided an important bridge from the era of Neil Armstrong to that of Elon Musk. I was fortunate to have been a part of that history in my own small way.
Thanks for taking the time to read this blog. Ad Astra ...