Mary Alice Hostetter grew up the tenth of twelve children in a Mennonite farm family in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. She showed an early fascination for words and stories, which were for her entertainment and escape, comfort and power. She recognized the power of words, when, as high school newspaper editor, her editorials upset the principal.
She earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in English from Lebanon Valley College and Villanova University. While pursuing a career in education and human services, with a brief lapse into cheesemaking and restaurant management, she studied writing whenever and wherever she could—at the University of Virginia, WriterHouse in Charlottesville and at the annual summer conference of the International Women’s Writing Guild. She has been a fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.
She edited and published The Measure of a Life: Diaries of Mennonite Farm Wife 1920-2000, a compilation of entries from her mother’s diaries. She has also written a collection of linked short stories.
In addition to numerous publications, she has recently completed a memoir, Pulling Up Roots: A Mennonite Girlhood Remembered.