Meet Team Fiend

In reverse alphabetical order, here are the regular contributors to the Diary of a Crossword Fiend venture:

Dave “Evad” Sullivan got his moniker when he first posted at the old NYT Puzzle forum under the member name “evadnavillus.” He was at first mistaken for a Croatian housewife obsessed with American crosswords named Evadna Villus. He just had his fifth daily puzzle accepted for publication in the New York Times, and has had over 20 puzzles published in other media outlets. He lives with his partner in Panton, Vermont, where they raise chickens, vegetables, bees and goats. Along with tending to all things technical here at DOACF, Dave has helped out fellow bloggers Brendan Emmett Quigley, Tyler Hinman and Matt Gaffney.

Darby Ratliff is a student working on her PhD in American Studies who uses crosswords as a break from research (until she starts researching puzzle history). She started solving crossword puzzles a couple of years ago and can frequently be heard commenting when someone references a word mentioned in one of the puzzles she did that day. She lives with her girlfriend and their dog Midge in St. Louis, Missouri, where they proudly rep the Buffalo Bills year-round.

Shannon “norah sharpe” Rapp (she/her) is a research administrator at Washington University Medical School in St. Louis, as well as a mom to two cats and one middle-schooler. She started making crosswords in 2020 and began writing puzzles for her blog in early 2021. Since then, she has written puzzles for AVCX+, Lil AVC X, Fill Me In, Crucinova, LA Times, Inkubator, and Lollapuzzoola 2022 with more to come. Shannon also writes for Daily Crossword Links and Crossworld News and Notes along with fellow Fiend blogger Matt Gritzmacher, and sometimes she tweets about crosswords. She’s a recent convert from digital solving to the beloved 0.9 mm Pentel. You can probably find her at the next ACPT, talking up indie puzzles to anyone who will listen and plotting to win the E division eventually.

Jim Peredo is the only known crossword constructor of Guamanian heritage. Formerly an Air Force communications officer, he settled with his wife and three kids in the Tacoma, WA, area. He’s had puzzles published in multiple major venues, but his biggest claim to fame was when chose to highlight his submission for their book title mash-up promotion on their website. His brainchild, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go the F**k to Sleep: Inspiring tales of living with narcolepsy,” earned him 5 Likes on Twitter. 

pannonica currently lives with a cat. Just one. no cats. A cat. Unofficial DOACF quotation mark reorienter.

joon pahk is a full-time dad and part-time puzzlemaker with his own puzzle website. here at diary of a crossword fiend, joon blogs matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest. outside of crosswords, joon’s main interests are trivia and sports, especially soccer. he can’t stand pets or long walks on the beach.

Jack Murtagh lives in Jersey City, NJ with his wife. He has a background doing research in math and computer science. Outside of his decade-long crossword obsession, Jack writes about math and puzzles, including a weekly column at He also plays chess frequently and steps outside occasionally.

Erin Milligan-Milburn is a pediatrician in the Philadelphia area. She started solving crosswords as a child but didn’t discover the competitive world until 2012. Since then, she has worked her way into B Division, where she will be stuck for life. Erin has constructed 1.6 puzzles so far and would love to find a free live-in babysitter so she can work on a few more. When not solving or blogging very intermittently, she enjoys sleeping, talking to her dog Lilac and her cat Luma, and trying to find local ramen nearly as good as that one place in Akihabara where you order by ticket vending machine.

Sophia Maymudes is a Seattle-based software engineer. She writes a monthly crossword for the Provincetown Independent (link: and her work has been published by the NYT, AVCX, and Inkubator. She enjoys public transportation, thematic Spotify playlists, and coming up with three new fun facts every time she has to write a bio about herself.

Jenni Levy is a veteran of the Will Weng and Eugene Maleska puzzle eras, and heir to a family crossword tradition that goes back to Margaret Farrar. The Cruciverbal Internet has opened her eyes to indie puzzles, 0.9 mm Pentel pencils, and the delights of crossword competitions. Everything she knows about The Simpsons, she learned from crossword puzzles. She is also a palliative care doctor, mom to a social media marketer extraordinaire, and an avid Yankees fan.

Zachary David Levy grows Japanese maple trees, makes crossword puzzles, and owns the world’s largest collection of souvenir travel magnets (maybe). He lives outside of NYC with his wife and kids. He is technically a doctor.

Adesina O. Koiki (Ade or Addie for short) of Brooklyn is a relative newbie to crosswords and the crossword world. His first crossword tournament was Lollapuzzoola in 2011, and he’s been competing in the ACPT ever since. He’s the founder/editor/jack-of-all trades of the sports website, A Lot of Sports Talk, and also a freelance reporter/editor at ESPN The Magazine. He’s spent time on the radio as a play-by-play broadcaster for one of the Baltimore Orioles minor league affiliates (Delmarva Shorebirds, Class-A) in 2007, and still does play-by-play here and there to stay sharp. He also likes to cook any cuisine involving chicken and/or cornbread.


Matt Gritzmacher dove headlong into the indie crossword world in 2017 and hasn’t looked back. He operates the Daily Crossword Links email newsletter and is always happy to talk puzzles. Here at Crossword Fiend he’s covering the Monday BEQ and Wednesday New Yorker. He has no constructor credits yet, but he’s working on it while living in North Carolina with his wife, two cats (Zelda and Angus), and two dogs (Franklin and Remy). His non-puzzle hobbies include cycling and choral singing.

Matt Gaffney has been a professional crossword puzzle writer since 2000. His subscription-based weekly crossword contest is here and his subscription-based daily 10×10 is here. He also writes crosswords for The Wall Street Journal, New York Magazine, Washingtonian, and The Week. At Fiend he blogs Pete Muller’s Monthly Music Meta and occasionally pinch-hits for other bloggers.

Matt Forest makes a living as a mechanical engineer in Minnesota, and likes to dip into crossworld in his spare time. A crossword solver since childhood, he started going deeper down the rabbit hole in late 2021, dabbling in construction and joining Twitter to connect with other puzzlers. His first published puzzle was a giant M-shaped grid for Crucinova. He has since launched his own puzzle blog (, and is eager to get more puzzles out into the world.

Emily Flynn is an academic librarian in Columbus, Ohio. In 2020, she started solving crosswords and reading up on their history, which quickly led to an interest in construction. Her first puzzle was part of Malaika Handa’s 7xwords project. She’s now hooked and working on other crossword submissions.

​Kyle Dolan lives near Chicago with his wife and kids. He is a scientist currently working in foreign policy. Kyle got into crosswords at a young age and, after seeing Wordplay in 2006, decided to try his hand at constructing; over 15 years later, he’s still getting the hang of it. He self-publishes cryptics and variety puzzles (somewhat) regularly on his blog, Beneath The Surface Puzzles.

Eric Conrad is a SANS Faculty Fellow, information security consultant, public speaker, and co-author of the CISSP Study Guide. He lives on Peaks Island, ME, is a meta crossword puzzle solving enthusiast, and enjoys restoring golden age (1978-1983) arcade games.

Laura Braunstein, a librarian in northern New England, is the co-founder of The Inkubator, puzzles by women — cis, trans, and woman-aligned constructors. She has had puzzles published by the New York Times, Puzzle Society, Universal, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and Women of Letters, and is a team member with the American Values Club Crossword. She has constructed for the 2018 Indie 500, Boswords, and Crossword Tournament from Your Couch. She covers the Friday WSJ contest for Fiend. When not crossing words, she edits Wikipedia, bikes and skis on mountains, and discusses politics with her kids.

Gareth Bain: Born ’86, Port Elizabeth, South Africa in a hospital (we have those); shelter veterinarian based in Gordon’s Bay, also South Africa. Has been known to publish the odd puzzle. Also fond of baking and bird-watching (though combining the two would be a bad idea). Of late has also begun amassing a motley crew of mentally unstable puppers.

Derek Allen is an accountant currently living in Mishawaka, IN, but is hoping to move soon to where it never snows (although being snowed in does allow more time to solve puzzles). He is a rabid sports fan (favorite sport: tennis!), avid Jeopardy! watcher, and while he has had an appearance on Sports Jeopardy, he is dreaming of appearing on actual Jeopardy! with Alex Trebek. He has run three marathons and hopes to run a few more someday. Being a compulsive puzzle solver, he can’t remember the last day that passed without him solving a crossword puzzle!

Players retired from the team:

Janie Smulyan

Ben Smith

Nina Sloan

Doug Peterson

Andy Kravis

Jeffrey Krasnick

Jared Hersh

Malaika Handa

Angela Olson Halsted

Neville Fogarty

Victor “Judge Vic” Fleming

Rebecca Falcon

Rachel Fabi

Sam Donaldson

T Campbell

Erik Agard is a co-founder of the Crossword Puzzle Collaboration Directory, a resource for aspiring puzzlemakers from underrepresented groups.