We welcome questions and feedback. Write to series editor Marc Maximov at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This month's puzzle celebrates the Triangle's thriving local theater scene, both in its title (as one word, it could be clued as "Repertory company in residence at UNC-Chapel Hill since 1976") and theme entries. It's the brainchild of first-time playwright—er, constructor—Lisa Pickel, a former college theater major and an INDY contributing writer in the '90s, who embarked on a crash course in crossword-making to give us this gem: "Between reading up on how to properly construct one and the actual construction, it was the equivalent of a full-time job for one week," she writes. "A very enjoyable full-time job. I would encourage any word junkies (you know who you are) to give this a try. I found it so addictive, I actually began missing meals."
For any readers tempted to try their hand at constructing, however, we're sorry to announce that we're no longer accepting submissions to our series, as it's being discontinued due to budget constraints. Over the next few months we'll publish the remainder of the entries we've received. Many thanks to our talented constructors, and our dedicated solvers!
Here's our brief interview with constructor Lisa Pickel:
What is your city of residence? Where did you grow up?
Since arriving in Durham in 1986, I have lived in six strikingly different areas. I grew up in New Hampshire, which instilled in me the usual values ascribed to residents of that region. One of them, tenacity, is what kept me working on the construction of this puzzle.
What is your primary occupation? What are your other hobbies/interests?
I'm retired, but I was formerly a computer programmer. Now I apply my problem-solving brain to more mundane tasks such as avoiding processed food, gutter-cleaning, rant-writing and, lately, trying to strategize my way around the ills of healthcare.gov in order to sign up for insurance. For fun, I enjoy dancing, singing and eating. Probably in that order.
How long have you been constructing crosswords?
I have created exactly one crossword—this one. Between reading up on how to properly construct one and the actual construction, it was the equivalent of a full-time job for one week. A very enjoyable full-time job. I would encourage any word junkies (you know who you are) to give this a try. I found it so addictive, I actually began missing meals.
How did you first get into crossword solving? And constructing?
At some point in my youth, I found an outdated crossword-a-day calendar and spent many happy hours working through that. I still have most of November and December, unsolved. Today's puzzle was the result of a conversation with puzzle editor Marc Maximov. He mentioned that crossword construction was a difficult task. I view even the most casual comments of this type as a direct challenge to my intellect, so of course I had to prove him wrong. He was not.
What puzzles/puzzle venues/constructors do you most admire?
Since I have never yet managed to complete a New York Times Sunday puzzle without resorting to the Internet for clue help, I have to grudgingly admire it.