BEQ: How'd you get into puzzlemaking?
Peter: I became a regular solver during my last year at UNC Asheville. I would photocopy the New York Times puzzle from the library and solve it in the cafeteria over lunch. After graduating, I entered the glamorous world of substitute teaching, meaning I woke up like clockwork every morning at 6 a.m., hoping for a call from any school. I was living out in the woods then, so in the event I didn't get a gig that day, I wouldn't have money or much anything to do. Eventually I figured I'd try this whole constructing thing out and spent many a morning honing the craft.
BEQ: Looks like you're mainly a themeless guy (at least for the Times). What draws you to that form?
Peter: I actually do a fair amount of straightforward themed puzzles, but usually sell them to the LA Times, Games, Simon & Schuster, etc. But you're right, the themeless is my thing. My favorite part of constructing is filling the grid, so I suppose it only stands to reason.
BEQ: How do you go about making a themeless puzzle anyway? Do you keep a running tab of how many Scrabble points you're going to earn?
Peter: Ha, believe it or not, I only actually check on the Scrabble count and pangram type of things after I've completely filled the grid. My main goal is to cram as many exciting entries into the puzzle as possible, I just happen to think rarer letters tend to make more interesting words, plus as a solver, I like running into unusual letter combinations. It's also why I tend to have the majority of my entries between 6-8 letters. Two fun 7-letter entries are better than one 15 right?
BEQ: What have you been up to when you're not puzzling?
Peter: I'm in my third year of the Masters Architecture program at NC State, so most of my time goes there. To keep some of my sanity and health, I try to get in a little ultimate (no, "Frisbee" is not part of the sport's name) a few times a week around the NC area.
BEQ: How often do you have to clarify that you're not the Fall Out Boy dude?
Peter: Wait, you mean I'm not him? It doesn't happen as much as it used to, but I like paraphrasing the Michael Bolton rant from "Office Space" whenever I get the chance.