The guy up above who doesn't look like Tommy Chong is Will. Say "hey," everybody. And without further ado, let's do this interview:
BEQ: Your puzzles are so name- and crazy-letter-heavy; tell me how do you go about making crosswords.
Will: I'm a trivia guy, and names are great fodder for trivia. So sometimes I overestimate the number of people who know, say, the highest mountain in Australia. I'm also a Scrabble player, which could explain why I like to use Scrabbly letters. Like most constructors, I try to find seed entries that are interesting and Scrabbly - all those names just seem to work themselves in there somehow.
BEQ: How did you get into puzzle making in the first place?
Will: I think I started when I was like 10. I did crosswords, and I figured how hard could it be to make them? Turns out: very hard. I did it all by hand, and it took a few years to get the hang of it. Obviously my first puzzles were terrible. I'm pretty sure I once used MITSU and clued it as "Half a car company."
BEQ: Does linguistics classes help or hinder you in the puzzle writing process?
Will: Studying linguistics makes you really pay attention to interesting facets of the language around you, which is very helpful when it comes to coming up with themes, or just in-the-language phrases for themelesses.
BEQ: Your Facebook page says you speak three languages, surely that's gotta help?
Will: It doesn't really help, actually. ETRE and ESO are one thing, but when you speak Spanish, you are always tempted to use stuff like MANZANA or something to bail you out in a tricky corner, and if you give in to that temptation, it's just bad for everyone concerned.
BEQ: Do you ever solve crosswords in other languages?
Will: I once tried my hand at a book of crosswords from Germany, and let me tell you, it did not go well. I do solve French crosswords on occasion, but there's no way I could construct them. Knowing a language is one thing, and being attuned to its letter patterns is another.
BEQ: You and I seem to be cut from the same indie rock dork cloth, but we sure aren't going to agree over the merits of Joanna Newsom. So I ask you, if she holds a concert in my home town, and I don't go, does she still make a noise?
Will: C'mon, you're a PBR drinker, can't you bow to Pitchfork on this one? Hmm, that gets me thinking, maybe I should write a tribute crossword to Joanna Newsom. It's too bad [her breakthrough album] "Ys" is only two letters.