03 Dec 2023 Author of the Month: Maria Hoskins
By Susan L. Peterson
Maria Hoskins never expected to be a book author. She was in her 50s when she wrote her first book, which she did only because of a challenge.
In 2013, Hoskins was at Pyramid Art, Books & Custom Framing in Little Rock, searching for a suitable Christmas book to read in her Sunday school class. When she couldn’t find the right book, the store owner said, “Just go write the book.”
So she did.
Since that time, Hoskins not only authored seven children’s books that focus on family and tradition, but she also started her own certified woman-owned minority business, C & V 4 Seasons Publishing.
“Christmas Night on the Farm” was released in 2014. Based on Hoskins’ own memories, it tells the story of a girl and her family visiting her grandmother’s farm in the mid-1960s.
She is proud that she was not a “one-book author,” and she subsequently wrote and published “Grandma’s Thanksgiving Dinner,” “Down Home in Arkansas,” “My Easter Story,” “Papa’s Pets,” “My Sister My Friend” and “It’s My Birthday!,” which was released this year.
Hoskins draws her material from her own family experiences, especially memories of family occasions or traditions that were celebrated on important holidays. There is always an underlying message of love and understanding. That message is probably most evident in “My Sister My Friend,” which is dedicated to her daughters, one of whom is special needs. In the book, one sister needs a wheelchair and requires extra help and attention.
Hoskins’ books have a feature that differs from most books. Pages are included in the back for children to write and respond to prompts. For example, in “My Easter Story” children are asked to write their story and a poem about Easter. “Family Reunion” asks children to chart their family tree.
The illustrations are another unique and appealing aspect of her work. Hoskins used artists who have some connection to Arkansas, but their varying styles give each book a different tone. For example, the vibrant colors used in “My Easter Story” are very different from the subdued watercolors in “Grandma’s Thanksgiving Dinner.” “Down Home in Arkansas” is illustrated using oil on wood, and “My Sister My Friend” is the only book using digital art.
One of Hoskins’ biggest fans is local TV personality and children’s literacy advocate Craig O’Neill. He has visited her home for an interview and has read several of her books on air.
Hoskins grew up in a military family and traveled a lot, but she always considered Mayflower her home. She attended several schools in the area but graduated from Hall High School in Little Rock, where there were many opportunities. She says she was always a performer who enjoyed dancing, reciting poetry, participating in debate and playing the clarinet in the band. Her favorite subject was English, and she earned a bachelor of arts in mass communications and English from Philander Smith College.
During and after school, she worked for a record company, a TV station and Congressman Vic Snyder in the U.S. House of Representatives. Following Snyder’s retirement, she landed a job with the Department of Justice and retired in December 2022 after 21 years of service.
Since retiring, Hoskins now enjoys sharing her stories full-time. She loves reading them in a fun and interactive way at schools, bookstores and libraries. She incorporates her first-hand experience as a businesswoman and publisher to tell children what is involved in producing a book.
Hoskins and her husband, Archie, have been married 30 years. They have two daughters, Christina and Victoria. In addition to her author events, she volunteers as an advocate for youth and is involved with Youth Advocate and Resource Network (YARN) programs, a nonprofit founded by Hoskins’ mother, Berthenia Gill. YARN’s programs include After School Tutoring, Let’s Make Reading Fun, Community Safety and Garden to Table. Looking ahead, she anticipates her next book will come out in 2025 and will be about mothers.
Her books are available from her website, Seasons2dream.com, Pyramid Art, Books & Custom Framing, and most online retailers. To schedule her to speak, email [email protected].