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ASU-Jonesboro: ASU alum Jane Hankins to sign first novel on campus Sept. 13


JONESBORO —Jane F. Hankins, an Arkansas State University alum and talented artist, will visit the ASU campus for a book reading/signing of her first novel, Thursday, Sept. 13, at 2 p.m., in the Third Floor Program Area of the Dean B. Ellis Library. 

The novel, entitled “Madge’s Mobile Home Park,” is the first book in a series of what the author terms the Peavine Chronicles series. Hankins’ novel was first published in May 2012. Hankins will talk about her new book, followed by a book signing. Copies of the book will be available for sale.

Several years ago, Hankins wrote and performed with her family a reader’s theater script, which was produced in the Arkansas Repertory Theater’s “Black Box.”  That script, part Steel Magnolias, part Lake Woebegone, and a touch of Fannie Flagg with a local flavor, has now become Hankins’ first novel, which is selling well in bookstores regionally.

“These characters came to me while traveling from Little Rock to New Orleans and seeing roadside signs like ‘AKC Toy Poodles and Dog Outfits’ or ‘Curl Up and Dye Salon’,” said Hankins, best known for her figurative sculptures and fairytale paintings.  “I made sculptures of who I thought might have put out signs like that and ended up writing little stories about each one. A trailer park in a pecan grove in a town I made up called Peavine, Arkansas, just seemed like the perfect base for a quirky community of characters who’d done a makeover on their lives with the help of the town’s beloved benefactor, Loretta Doll Dumas.”   

The entire social structure of Peavine was altered when the notorious gold digger, Madge, arrived in town as the wife of wealthy Herman Dumas Jr. after World War II and mysteriously disappeared after a tumultuous two years, not long after she started running the local trailer park. Loretta Doll Dumas was Herman Junior’s second wife and heir to his fortune. She moved from her mansion to the trailer park in the mid-1960s and used Herman’s money to help others like he helped her. 

“These characters and their stories came as a gift from that better part of my imagination,” Hankins said. “I have worked on this novel for eight years, and I’m so grateful and excited finally to be able to share it with others. I never knew writing could be so much fun, but then I’ve always been telling stories with my art. I just figured out how to write it down!”

Hankins is a Jonesboro native and ASU grad whose trademark statues of octogenarian tea parties and fairy folk are highly collectible by connoisseurs of contemporary art.  Her art, sculpture in porcelain and stoneware as well as drawing and painting, is frequently on display at the Arkansas Arts Center, and she was one of 10 artists chosen to exhibit in the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C.

Hankins lives in Little Rock with her husband, Little Rock radio and TV broadcasting icon Craig O’Neil, also an ASU alum.  They have a daughter, Abby Kerby; son, Thomas Hankins; and two granddaughters, Bella and Amelia Kerby.