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Yes, I know this is headed 'Personal' but I'm not going to bore you with details of my holidays, interests, or my tastes in music, etc. Suffice to say, I'm happy to have retired from a wage-slave existence and to be working from home getting paid for the enjoyable task of making crosswords. Below is a a brief summary of how "I got to where I am today".
How I got to be a crossword setter
I started over 40 years ago, submitting entries to my local newspaper’s ‘Reader’s Crossword’ feature, on the assumption that ‘I could do better than that’. Eventually I got one accepted for the grand sum of £2.
More acceptances followed plus the odd success in puzzle magazines. I was a runner-up in a
crossword-setting competition run by Games & Puzzles mag. and waited for the big offers to come in ...
and waited ...
then I got my first personal computer ...
... a Sinclair ZX81 on which I wrote a crossword-creating program for myself – enlarged and enhanced
shortly afterwards on a BBC ‘B’ 32K. This made grid completion less of a hassle and I was able to produce fairly professional-looking submissions.
Better still, the program enabled me to create lists of
themed words, searchable for matches when completing the grid. Specialist magazines (Film, Music, Art, etc.) became my target. Appropriately, it was a computer magazine, Acorn User that published what I regard as my first ‘proper’ crossword - i.e. one that brought in a decent fee!
I should say that I now use Antony Lewis's commercial software, Crossword Compiler, an excellent aid to crossword construction - and it enables me to put puzzles (some of them interactive) on the web.
About ten years ago, my wife, Jo (who was never really one for crosswords) branched out from her role as my checker and admin assistant and started creating crosswords herself - just the grids at first and then, confidence mounting, the clues. Now, she appears to be threatening to oust me as chief crossword wallah in our household - though she hasn't yet got her hands on the Guardian and Private Eye puzzles, which I still create.
Who publishes my stuff at present?
With my wife Jo's help, I'm published by the following:
Angling Times, Action on Hearing Loss (RNID magazine),
BBC Gardens Illustrated, BBC Countryfile, BBC History magazine,
Countryman, Country Walking, Geographical, The Guardian (Brummie)
Improve Your Coarse Fishing, Notcutts (garden centres) magazine, Private Eye, Scouting, Teazel (android crossword app), TownsWoman,
Walk (Ramblers Assocn. magazine) and What Investment
... and on the web:
(monthly puzzle: moderately difficult cryptic based on The Chambers Dictionary)