It's worth noting, however, DLW has no problem with being a suck-up. To wit, DLW's first answer was: "With apologies to Babyface, I'll open by stating that there are only two occasions in which I think about Brendan Quigley: day and night." The ass-kissing worked, I am touched.
If you haven't guess by now, DLW's a card. That's him with his new roommate Luisa. "Does she kick in for rent?" DLW asked. "No. Does she do her share of the dishes? No. I think that picture was taken when she was in the middle of reading the new Jonathan Franzen novel ... she's looking longingly at it."
This might possibly be the silliest interview I've run yet. Future interviewee's, the bar has been set.
BEQ: How did you get started in puzzlemaking anyway?
DLW: I was solving a start-of-the-week New York Times puzzle in college and something clicked. I bought graph paper from the college store and submitted a Monday-level puzzle to the Times which was accepted. My fondest memory which I never share but will here because your readers will understand: Will, seeing that I was a newbie to this, said he wanted to publish the puzzle but wanted to remove its two "cheater squares." He didn't have to identify them. I knew what he meant immediately. It was like a language buried within me was suddenly being spoken by someone else.
BEQ: Tell me a little bit about your syndicate.
DLW: Two or three years out of college, I approached the publisher of several free weekly papers in New York where I had once interned and proposed to him that I construct a weekly puzzle for his papers. He agreed. In the subsequent months, I researched the hell out of weeklies that existed across the country. I started getting some bites and soon I had 30-something weekly papers publishing my crosswords. It was an incredible amount of work for incredibly little pay. The syndicate is a well-oiled machine at this point but I haven't sought out new buyers in years ... it's too draining. A great moment of late: one of my papers recently decided to stop running my work because they were shrinking the size of the paper but, a few weeks ago, I got an email from their editor saying we were back on after complaints came in about the absence of the crossword.
BEQ: How much did quote-unquote appearing in the movie "Wordplay" change your life/bank account/social standing?
DLW: I didn't come close to feeling like I deserved it. The planets aligned that year so that this guy, an okay, sort-of-newish constructor, had an easy-breezy puzzle that Maestro Shortz picked just in time for an annual tournament that happened to be the subject of a documentary that was being made, of all years, that year. It was hard for me not to think of veteran, widely-published constructors who might have said "Guh?" when my puzzle came up on the screen.Otherwise, it felt great. My life, bank account and social standing were pretty much unchanged although I continue to enjoy it when my brother tells me about running into distant relations who ask him if he's the crossword puzzle writer. I continue to urge him to say he is.
BEQ: You have a new book out too, tell me about that.
DLW: It's called "Ever-So-Clever Crosswords." A friend who grew up in Colorado once told me that, as kids, they'd go up to cars with Utah license plates and write a "p" after the first word in "Ski Utah." I hope to catch a prankster at my local bookstore scrawling in an "N" at the start of the book's title.
BEQ: And what's this about an iPhone app?
DLW: I don't own an iPhone. A friend had to show me the app. It looks great. It's called "Puzzle Love." It's 30 puzzles. And apparently it's just been listed on the "What's Hot" page on iTunes. So people should buy it. It's what's hot.
I have no website, no iPhone, no cellphone. I'm an idiot with technology. The first time I went on your site, I clicked the "Solution" button by mistake when I wanted to solve one of your puzzles. For reals.
BEQ: You've been a writer for "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" forever.
DLW: It's spoiled me for all other future employment. I get to write about anything that interests me. It also mixes well with the crossword thing. The brain cell that I hit time and time again when creating crossword themes and clues is a close neighbor to the brain cell I use to write trivia for television. All my other brain cells are on vacation.
BEQ: Is that the only show you write for?
DLW: I did write for the GSN's revamped "Newlywed Game." I only went to one taping because it was so painful seeing the losing wives chewing out the losing husbands as they left the set. "What were you thinking?! I hate guacamole!" That kind of thing ...
BEQ: Is it just me, or do all the best puzzlemakers use all three names?
DLW: No joke. It's like you, me and Manny Rodham Nosowky and, like, that's it.