We welcome questions, feedback and (especially!) puzzle submissions. Write to series editor Marc Maximov at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This month's puzzle is the second in our series by University of South Carolina student Chris King (his first was in November). He's a native South Carolinian and a "crazy" (his word) sports fan, reflected in this puzzle. And though he's from south of the border, he does have a rooting interest in Triangle area hoops—but it's not who you'd suspect from this puzzle's long entries. "I hate the Tar Heels with a fiery passion," he admits, "but the saying does fit the grid." Our interview with Chris follows:
Where were you born and where did you grow up? Have you been to the Triangle area?
I was raised in Chesterfield, S.C., but live in Columbia, S.C. I have been to the Triangle area. I spent a great deal of time there attending summer camps, and I lived on the Duke West Campus for a couple of summers. I still manage to make it up to the area for a quizbowl tournament every now and then.
What is your primary occupation? What are your other hobbies/interests?
Student of the Honors College at the University of South Carolina. When I'm not drowning in homework, you can find me attending a baseball game, studying for quizbowl, being active in Scouts, marathoning some TV comedies or Facebooking.
How did you first get into crossword solving?
I've always been a learning fanatic, dating back to learning a deck of U.S. state flash cards when I was 5. My first solving experience would be a book I got when I was young, "Games Magazine for Kids," which featured several crosswords geared to younger people. I learned about the idea of crosswords there, and was immediately fascinated by them.
What inspired you to make your first puzzle, and how did you go about it?
The idea of getting published, without a doubt. I played around for a couple of years of trying to make a puzzle by hand, and I even was able to make several full corners, but this would turn out fruitless. I eventually discovered computer programs that aided with crossword creation. I learned how to use the program, and my puzzle-making experience has only added since then. I can't pinpoint the first puzzle I made, but one of the earliest I made was for a local newspaper named The Link that featured the word LINK in the theme entries (giving me the chance to use PLINKO in a puzzle). The Link later refused my puzzle for odd reasons, but I went about publishing puzzles to the website Funtrivia.com. Now I make puzzles for the school paper, friends and whoever else would want a puzzle.
What puzzles/puzzle venues/constructors do you most admire?
There are only two puzzles I do with consistency: The New York Times and the A.V. Club. The NYT is the pinnacle of crossword making, clearly, and the A.V. Club provides the freshness, edge, comedy and tradition that all appeal to me. My favorite constructors would have to be Brendan Emmett Quigley and Matt Gaffney.
Anything else you'd like to add?
Duke Nation, I am one of you. This is not Tar Heel propaganda. Please forgive the puzzle.