We welcome questions, feedback and (especially!) puzzle submissions. Write to series editor Marc Maximov at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This month's puzzle is a riff on the ever-growing Triangle food truck scene. The constructor is Will Connelly, a fan of local eats who works at Genesis Home, a shelter for homeless families in Durham. Will is a man of many interests who's known to haunt trivia nights around town. He's been solving crosswords since high school, and only recently tried his hand at constructing. He goes at it the old-fashioned way, with "a ruler, pencil and paper, a dictionary and a few online resources" (OK, maybe not entirely old-fashioned). This is his first published puzzle. Our short interview with Will follows:
Where do you live? Where did you grow up?
I live in Durham. I grew up in Freeport, Maine.
What is your primary occupation? What are your other hobbies/interests?
I work as the Learning Program/Child Care Program Facilitator at Genesis Home. My other interests are writing, film, literature, nonprofits, local eats and trivia.
How did you first get into crossword solving?
The guy who ran study halls in Freeport High School would print out copies of the Portland Press Herald's syndicated crossword (along with the jumble, cryptoquip and sudoku) every day for kids to pass the time/procrastinate from homework. I made it my goal to finish each puzzle before the period ended, and I eventually moved on from that paper's crossword to the Boston Globe's, LA Times', NY Times', etc.
What inspired you to make your first puzzle, and how did you go about it? How did you go about making this puzzle?
My college roommate and I spent a long weekend in New York City as part of a road trip, and we passed the time by trying to make our own crossword with the theme of classic rock puns (example: "Van Morrison's ode to bovines lindy-hopping?" "Moodance"). We struggle mightily and fudged a few acronyms/foreign words, but we finished a 15x15 grid and sent it out to friends and family as a Christmas present. Only one puzzle came back solved; the rest were trashed or hung on my step-grandmother's refrigerator as an example of the generation gap.
The INDY puzzle is probably only the fifth or sixth completed puzzle I've done since then, and the process is still basically the same: I use a ruler, pencil and paper, a dictionary and a few online resources. I do the themed clues first, then fill in the rest, trying to use as many of the 26 letters of the alphabet as possible, and making a cool-looking arrangement of black squares.
What puzzles/puzzle venues/constructors do you most admire?
Wordplay certainly made me appreciate Will Shortz's genius, and my stepmom and I love to tackle the Sunday NYT puzzle each week, but I also like geekier puzzles like The Onion/AV Club's or the Boston Phoenix's. And I greatly admire any puzzle that bends the rules of crossword construction without outright breaking them (for example, using numbers or full words in squares or having many clues refer to other clues in a web of interconnectivity).
Anything else you'd like to add?
Thanks so much for helping me participate in Solve Locally, INDY! This is the first time my name will be appearing in print since I stopped writing for the Brunswick, Maine, newspaper in high school, and it feels great to be back.