Today’s the day! If you meander down to your local library or bookstore today and pick up a copy of Montreal Review of Books, you’ll find a cryptic crossword puzzle written by yours truly.
(You can also download the puzzle right here -->)
It’s the first time I’ve had a cryptic in print and I'm thrilled. It's especially cool to know that The Bookshelf in Guelph, which was my favourite hang-out in high school, will have copies.
This is a special puzzle because it was custom made for the Summer 2017 issue of Montreal Review of Books. I absolutely love this publication, which exists to highlight the literature of English-language writers and publishers from Quebec, and I wanted the puzzle to reflect that. Six of the clues are personalized, including three clues that make reference to authors whose books are reviewed in this issue (one of the reviews was written by me).
The Proof is in the Cryptic
In just ten days, I'll have my first cryptic crossword in print and I couldn't be more excited. It's being published by Montreal Review of Books, which you can get all over Canada (see here for a list of places that carry it). I'm especially honoured given that this is the first time they've published a cryptic crossword before.
I hadn't really thought of it until my editor called to double-check a word in one of my clues, but proofreading a cryptic crossword puzzle must be really tricky. Clues can sound really weird even when they're right and even a perfectly symmetrical grid can have a structural error (which happened with The Globe and Mail a few months back).
If you don't happen to solve cryptic crosswords, which my editor doesn't (yet), how do you proceed?
Choose Your Own Cryptic
I tend to take the English language for granted.
It’s hard not to. Because English is my first language, I speak it without thinking. It is my packhorse for the daily grind, carrying me from one exchange to another, and as such I rarely consider the larger meaning behind certain words.
I only see English words anew in two situations. The first is when I learn a new French word, which leads me to compare it to its English counterpart. (For example, in French, when a woman goes into labour, you say “elle entre dans le travaille”, she is starting the work. Which is exactly what the word “labour” means: work.)
The second time I consider words anew is when I do cryptics.
I'm a writer, adventurer, amateur setter of cryptic crosswords, lover of "ah-ha!" moments, and exhausted mom.