Chestertown, MD, August 28, 2003 — The O'Neill Literary House launches it 2003-2004 Tea & Talk Series on Tuesday, September 2 at 4 p.m. with alumna and writer Sandy Hiortdahl reading from two novels. The event is free and all are welcomed to enjoy tea, conviviality and the power of the written word in the eclectic comfort of the Washington College's O'Neill Literary House. Sandy Hiortdahl is a1985 graduate of Washington College who studies English and took the Sophie Kerr Prize that same year. She also holds an M.F.A. from George Mason University and an M.A. in English from the University of Maryland. She has taught at West Chester University in Pennsylvania and the University of Delaware, where she was named Distinguished Adjunct Teacher of the year in 2001.
Currently, she teaches part time at Washington College and is a PhD. candidate at the Catholic University in Washington, DC. She recalls writing her first short story (about a trip down an ant hole) at age six and wrote a 60-page novella at age 12 (which she describes as “quite bad”). In high school, she was a finalist in the Mt. Vernon Competition for Young Writers in Washington, DC. During her college years, she continued to write and adopted the late John Gardner as a mentor in spirit. She has been an active member in the John Gardner Society, annually presenting papers and occasionally coordinating the society's annual conference. Her favorite quotation, from Gardner's “On Becoming a Novelist,” is: “Nothing is harder than being a true novelist, unless that is all that one wants to be, in which case, though writing novels is hard, everything else is harder.” Being a true novelist is all that Hiortdahl has ever wanted to be, though, taking a cue from Gardner, she has worked hard to become a teacher of writing and to give back, the encouragement that great teachers of her past offered her. Currently, she lives in a little white house in Chestertown with her Australian Cattle Dog, Kismo Blue. Her novel And There Were In the Same Country is being offered to agents and editors in New York as she works on her next novel, Haley's Comment, which is set at Washington College.