We welcome questions, feedback and (especially!) puzzle submissions. Write to series editor Marc Maximov at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week's puzzle is by Doug Peterson, who works at a small accounting firm in Pasadena. He's been constructing since 2003 and has had puzzles published in The New York Times, L.A. Times, Newsday and Games Magazine, among other venues. He grew up in Montana, and while he's never been to North Carolina, for our series he came up with a clever Tar Heel wordplay theme. Here's a brief Q&A with Doug:
Have you ever been to North Carolina, or specifically to the Triangle area (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill)?
No, I've never visited North Carolina. I grew up in Montana, and I've lived in California for most of my adult life. I've been to New York and Boston, but most of the East Coast is a mystery to me.
What is your primary occupation? What are your other hobbies/ interests?
I work at a small accounting firm in Pasadena. Besides solving and constructing crosswords, I enjoy reading, baseball and all things Batman.
How long have you been constructing crosswords? Where have they been published?
I've been constructing puzzles since 2003. I've been published in most of the major markets: New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Newsday, Chronicle of Higher Education, Games Magazine, etc. I'm also one of the constructors for a new Facebook app called PuzzleSocial.
How did you first get into crossword solving? And (presumably later) constructing?
My father and grandmother were both avid solvers, so I picked it up naturally. When I was a kid, my dad let me fill in everything I could on the Sunday puzzle, and then he finished it up. Eventually I got to the point where I could fill in most of the grid, so my dad started buying two copies of the newspaper.
As for constructing, I'm not sure what got me started. I just sat down one day and decided to give it a shot. My favorite entry from my first (unpublished) puzzle is ITUPAC, which I was going to clue as "Start of a statement from Rapper Shakur." Fortunately, I've gotten a little better since then.
What puzzles/ puzzle venues/ constructors do you most admire?
I gravitate toward hard puzzles these days. The tougher, the better. I love the weekly Fireball puzzle, edited by Peter Gordon. I also enjoy his weekly Post Puzzler in the Sunday Washington Post. (Full disclosure: I construct puzzles for the Post Puzzler every six weeks or so.) As for constructors, Patrick Berry is No. 1. Others who consistently make me say "Wow" include Trip Payne, Patrick Blindauer, Elizabeth Gorski and Brad Wilber. And I could list many, many others. There are lots of talented folks making crosswords these days.