We welcome questions, feedback and (especially!) puzzle submissions. Write to series editor Marc Maximov at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This month's puzzle is by Alan Olschwang, a veteran constructor who's been published everywhere, including eight times in The New York Times. A retired attorney who lives in Huntington Beach, Calif., the company he worked for as general counsel had a factory in Durham, occasioning many trips to the Triangle. Once, while traveling, a fellow passenger noticed him making crosswords by hand. "He asked me what I was doing, and I explained," he says. "After that, he sent me a rudimentary construction software program. I didn't even own a computer then, but I went out and bought one." Since then he's been a prolific puzzle maker. This dandy diagram is timed to coincide with the recent commencement in Durham. Our short interview with Alan follows:
What is your name and city of residence?
Alan Olschwang, Huntington Beach, Calif.
Have you ever been to North Carolina, or specifically to the Triangle area (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill)?
Yes and yes (I visited there a number of times while still working).
What is your primary occupation? What are your other hobbies/interests?
Retired attorney. General counsel last 25+ working years. The company I worked for had a factory in Durham during part of that time.
How long have you been constructing crosswords? Where have they been published?
Nineteen years. Published most everywhere—New York Times, LA Times, New York Sun, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Chicago Tribune. Dell, Penny and Games magazines. The Crosswords Club and Uptown Puzzle Club. Simon & Shuster and Random House puzzle books. My own book on Puzzazz (please note there's a free iPad and iPhone app to access the book). Etc. etc.
How did you first get into crossword solving? And (presumably later) constructing?
I started as a teenager, I suppose because my father always did them. I wanted to have something constructive (pardon the pun) to do when I retired to keep my mind active. In 1994, I began constructing by hand. An acquaintance saw me working on one on an airplane. He asked me what I was doing, and I explained. After that, he sent me a rudimentary construction software program. I didn't even own a computer then, but I went out and bought one. I had a few published before then, but was able to place a lot more after then.
What puzzles/puzzle venues/constructors do you most admire?
New York Times, former New York Sun, LA Times. Then there's The Crosswords Club and The Uptown Puzzle Club, to which I am a regular contributor. I'd prefer not to mention constructors, because there's too many to list and I'd no doubt omit some one or ones I should include.