Bev Kodak – Track Director

bevBev has been attending DragonCon since 1995, and has been a staff volunteer since 1999. She has been the Director of the YA Lit track since its inception in 2004. She shares her love of books with a captive audience on a regular basis, as she is a middle school Language Arts teacher. She enjoys a good laugh, good company, fine conversation, and a good book. Combine all of those, and you have the Young Adult Lit track at Dragon Con. She shares a home with two Great Danes, two cats, one turtle, one husband and one daughter in McDonough, Georgia.

Three Questions Answered

1. First Science fiction or fantasy book?A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. I remember reading it and
asking the librarian, “Are there any more books like this?”

2. Favorite books/ authors of all time? Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Immortals by Tracy Hickman.  Anything by Pat Rothfuss, Spider Robinson, Theodore Sturgeon, Lois McMaster Bujold or Ursula K.
LeGuin.  And of course, the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling.

3. Why YA? I really like a good story, and I think some of the best writers out there are writing for young adults. Good YA books have good character development, tight plot lines, and serious themes. Teens just won’t read a book if it’s crap. I also love that most books written for young people have one element that those written for adults don’t have. That element is hope.

Melissa Pichetto – Assistant Track Director

MelPichettoMelissa is a lover of all things nerdy including books, science, fanfiction, art, gaming, and most importantly DragonCon. After a stint as a staffer for the Art Show, this is her eighth year as a staffer for the YA Lit track and she couldn’t be more excited. In addition to her nerdy loves, Melissa also enjoys music, theatre, and (gasp!) her work as a neonatal nurse practitioner. She lives in Lawrenceville, GA with her loving husband Nick, son Aidan, daughter Olivia, dog Pippin and cat Loki.

Three Questions Answered

1. First Science Fiction or Fantasy book? A Wrinkle in Time. My science teacher in the 6th grade saw the spark and told me I would enjoy the book. I was hooked from the first page when, as a 6th grader, I could easily relate to the nerdy Meg Murray! 🙂

2. Favorite books of all time? There are so many that listing them all would be exhaustive so I will include two all time faves and a new fav: The Harry Potter series, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (+ the Hobbit of course!), and Graceling.

3. Why YA? I love YA because the worlds are so rich and well described that you can always imagine yourself there. There are characters that you can relate to and, because they are so well written, you are sucked into their lives and their stories, sharing in their joys and pains. I also find that YA books are getting more likely to confront issues that lots of kids face, and the authors are not afraid to make books that aren’t all roses and sunshine. There are life lessons to be learned in the pages. But most of all I love that these things combined, along with so much more, are drawing in kids who normally wouldn’t read and helping them experience the joy of books.

Jennifer Clack – Staff

JenniferJennifer found the world of fandom after stumbling upon a Harry Potter conference long ago while passing time at her Muggle job.  Since that first conference, she has found many other fandoms to adore but her first love will always be Harry. This is her fourth year on staff for the YA Lit Track after six years of enjoying DragonCon from the other side.  Previously, Jenn worked with HPEF, running programming for Portus 2008 and the whole show for Infinitus 2010, and was also a manager for LeakyCon for multiple cons.  In her spare time, she spends as much time as possible with her teenage daughter, reads as many books as she can and is constantly looking for her sunglasses and cell phone.

Alexa Donne – Staff

DE6Q9Q~3Based in Los Angeles (though previously a resident of Boston, Atlanta, Germany and Washington D.C.), Alexa has been in Harry Potter fandom since 2003, where she’s dabbled in reccing, modding, writing and con organizing. Alexa worked on programming and editorial for two HPEF cons–Azkatraz 2009 and Ascendio 2012–and is one of the forces behind the new HP & YA Lit con Leviosa. She’s also a mod for the sub-reddit /r/YAwriters and co-host of the podcast Upvote YA. This is Alexa’s fifth year on staff for Dragon Con. When she’s not doing her day job in television marketing, Alexa watches far too much television, reads voraciously and writes YA fiction of the sci-fi/fantasy variety (of course). She is represented by Elana Roth Parker of Laura Dail Literary.

Three Questions Answered

1. First Science Fiction or Fantasy book? Probably The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, though A Wrinkle In Time is up there, as well. And not my first, but it made a huge impact: The Giver.

2. Favorite book(s) of all time? Harry Potter, Pride & Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Thursday Next

3. Why YA? There’s a lot of creativity in YA, and a fearlessness about exploring a myriad of topics and genres– dystopia, sci-fi, fantasy, post-apoc, etc. I love the wealth of strong female protagonists and good writing by female authors, without the pandering of chick-lit (which says more about industry-wide trends and issues with gender imbalance than it does about chick-lit!). Plus, I’m a sucker for teenage uncertainty, awkwardness, first love, etc. Mostly, I think some of the best writing and stories being published today are happening in YA, and great stories trump all else!

Casey Fiesler – Staff

caseyCasey has been part of the YA Lit staff since 2010, after returning to Atlanta for graduate school. Now she lives in Colorado, where she works as a professor, teaching about and studying the cool things that people do online. She’s on the legal committee of the Organization for Transformative Works (she can tell you all about why fan fiction really is legal!), and considers hersef an “aca-fan” even if she thinks the term’s a little weird. She also writes some fiction when she’s not writing academic work; she’s a graduate of the Clarion writing workshop, and occasionally sells short stories for less money than she spent on coffee while writing them. She’ll love you forever if you let her pitch YA book ideas at you.

Three Questions Answered

1. First Science fiction or fantasy book? The first ones that really hooked me as a kid were Chronicles of Narnia and A Wrinkle in Time. I still have equal scifi-fantasy loyalties.

2. Favorite book(s) of all time? Besides those above – Good Omens by Neil Gaim and Terry Pratchett, Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, and of course, Harry Potter. Though I could go on and on…

3. Why YA? Good stories are timeless and ageless. I think YA calls to writers because it has the power to reach those at a really important stage in their lives, and with some of the best writers out there in this genre, how can you not love it?

Tara Hall – Staff

1798143_10100948576252658_5673219362452021179_nTara’s first Dragon Con was spent giving out directions at the info booth of the Hyatt, and this is her fifth year on staff. She’s been an insatiable reader her whole life, and an especially big Harry Potter fan since the beginning. When she’s not selling wholesale coffee or helping to open coffee franchises at her day job,  she’s probably playing video games or reading (science fiction and fantasy, of course!). She also can’t bear to leave out the fact that she loves lots of fandoms, including but not limited to: Harry Potter, Doctor Who, Hunger Games, Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy (X was her favorite), & Game of Thrones.

Three Questions Answered

1. First Science Fiction or Fantasy book? The Chronicles of Narnia, which, now that I think about it, explains my life. I love to find the intersection of fantasy and faith – stories are the best way we learn about truth.

2. Favorite books of all time? Oh man. The Harry Potter series for sure. The Ender series rocked my world. Blue Like Jazz. Summer Sisters. Even though there’s so many more, I’ll leave it at that because those are the ones that have left the biggest mark on my life.

3. Why YA?  Storytelling is so fundamentally human, and I truly believe it’s the absolute best way to get to know a person or a topic. I think all adults should be reading YA literature. We wrestle with really big issues like self-identity, depression, and the nature of good when we read YA books, and these are issues we have to work with to grow up.

Natalie Simpson – Staff

This year is Natalie’s second year on staff, which the young HP fan in her still squeals about. She works in Public Policy in Atlanta and spends more time than she cares to admit watching Netflix and reading all the YA she can find. When not at work or reading a book, she can usually be found walking her two crazy rescue dogs with her husband or in the gym or at the craig, rock climbing. Natalie also writes YA fantasy and volunteers for Leviosa.

Eleanor

eleanorEleanor is one of our YA Lit mascots. Both of her parents are directors at Dragon Con, so she doesn’t get a choice whether to grow up geeky or not. Eleanor’s current passions are playing outside, watching shows on Netflix, Settlers of Catan (Star Trek edition especially), reading books, and playing Minecraft and Skylanders Giants. She was at DragonCon before she was hatched. She is a DragonCon Eternal Member, and this is her eighth year attending.  She is in second grade.