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 Harvey Estes, one of the country's top constructors. He's been published everywhere, including 116 times in The New York Times, making him the ninth-most prolific contributor in the Will Shortz era. For the last year he's been composing a weekly puzzle for his local paper, The Daily Reflector in Greenville, N.C., themed to the goings-on there. When he heard we were bringing out our own locally themed puzzle, he wrote, "My editor will get a kick out of hearing that we scooped the papers in the Triangle." Here's a brief Q&A with Harvey:
Where do you live? Where were you born and where did you grow up?
Greenville, N.C. I was born in Birmingham, Ala. If I had ever grown up, it would have taken place there, chronologically speaking.
Have you spent much time in the Triangle area?
I went to seminary at Duke and graduated in 1977, but I haven't been there much since then.
What's your primary occupation? What are your other hobbies/ interests?
I'm a full-time crossword puzzle constructor. I also play acoustic guitar and bass at two of the churches in Greenville, and I play and sing at nursing homes, community gatherings and any place where kindness and poor taste in music will tolerate the sounds that I make.
How long have you been constructing crosswords? Where have they been published?
Since the early '90s. I do or have done puzzles for PuzzleSocial Celebrity Crosswords, Simon and Schuster, Dell, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, CrosSynergy, and that paper where Will Shortz outsourced the work to his underlings. I have also done puzzles for many non-crossword magazines, such as AAA Traveler, Catholic Digest, First for Women, IBM Software Quarterly and Boston Book Review. I've had several books of puzzles published by Sterling, including Riddle Crosswords and "H" Is for Holstein.
How did you first get into crossword solving? And (presumably later) constructing?
When I first started solving I was really into cryptic crosswords, and my first attempts at construction were also cryptic. I still admire the cleverness of this type of puzzle, but there's not much of a market, so I eventually drifted over into "normal" crosswords.
What puzzles/ puzzle venues/ constructors do you most admire?
None. I judge every puzzle on its individual merits.
Anything else you'd like to add?
I wish I had done a better job of managing the hundreds of millions of dollars that I have made constructing puzzles instead of blowing it all on the fast life, beautiful women and exotic chocolates. No wait; that was in a previous life when I was a rock star. My short-term memory is not so great, but long-term stretches back through several incarnations. I hated being a cockroach.