, pub-2774194725043577, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0 L.A.Times Crossword Corner: Interview with Marti DuGuay-Carpenter


Jan 25, 2011

Interview with Marti DuGuay-Carpenter

Some of us were impressed by the ICON ARTISTS alternative theme answer HeartRx came up with for the IRATE MOVIES puzzle in early January. Well, it's no accident. She's today's constructor Marti DuGuay-Carpenter.

Marti joined our blog last year, and she has been consistently entertaining us with her astute observations on puzzles and various topics on the blog. Her bubbling personality, sense of humor and caring nature shine through her various posts.

Congratulations on the debut, Marti. We're very proud of and pleased for you!

How does this "Missing Link" theme idea come to you? What are the other theme entries you also considered?

I was reading the news online and came across the headline "Bait and Switch: Online Electronics Store Caught in Fraud". As I was falling asleep that night, I thought it would be really funny if a fishing tackle store got caught changing fishing lures, because that would be a "Bait switch". I played around with other "conjunction" phrases like "fair square", "bits pieces", "short sweet" etc. But it was difficult to come up with ones that would make sense when clued. I finally settled on "Movers Shakers" and "Trial Error". I would have liked to have had more theme entries, but after reading Nancy Salomon's advice on Cruciverb, I decided it was better to have only three solid fills, than to have four or five with a couple "iffy" ones.

Was this puzzle accepted on the first try? Which part of the grid gave you the most trouble while constructing?

When I first submitted the puzzle, Mr Norris had a few minor changes in the mid-west. After I re-did those, he accepted it without any further adjustments. The hardest part of the grid was the SE. I wanted to put a theme unifier "and" in the last spot, but that left me with an awkward " - - - R - A" to fill. I really didn't like ILIAC for the crossing of SIERRA, but sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and move on (sigh).

Tell us a bit about your background. What do you do for a living and what prompted you to make your first crossword?

My background is in the medical field, and I worked in research for many years. Now I am in biotech, and export medical diagnostic products to Germany and Austria. I guess I am a very analytical person because I love tackling problems, whether its a research hypothesis or a marketing issue. I like setting challenging goals for myself, just to see if I can meet them. So in July of 2010 I decided to try my hand at constructing crosswords. I found out that it is a very different experience to construct than it is to solve. The left side of the brain is dominant for me when solving or actually filling the grid. But the right side definitely comes into the forefront when thinking of themes and cluing the puzzle.

How long have you been solving crosswords? Which constructors often inspire you?

I have been solving puzzles for over 45 years, and can't get enough. I always enjoyed ones by the late Dan Naddor, but Gail Grabowski, Barry Silk and Don (Hard G) Gagliardo are at the top of the list, too. For some reason, I can always relate to their sense of humor. But it's their tight themes, cleverness and sparkling fill that always makes me want more.

How does participating in our blog influence the way you develop clues/design a grid?

This blog has had a great impact on the way I look at crosswords. I will re-work entire sections of a grid just to get rid of the dreaded "e-" word (like e-tail, e-zine, e-date, e-tc). But it is the regulars who do the daily write-ups that really make me think about how I create a theme or fill the grid. You guys are quite brilliant when it comes to "de-structing" a puzzle, and making sense of it. So I always have to run my puzzles by you "in my head", to try to figure out how you would look at a particular entry or theme. If it passes that test with a positive answer, then I'm pretty sure it will be a good one.

Besides crossword, what else do you do for fun?

The best fun in life is just being able to enjoy it. I am a breast cancer survivor, so every new day is a gift, and I try to remember to say "Thank you" for each one. Most of my hobbies involve the outdoors: Skiing, golfing, kayaking, hiking, biking and gardening. But I also love to read, and have belonged to the same book club for more than five years. It's always interesting to hear other people's views on the current book, and that makes it a much more absorbing experience than if I just read for my own pleasure. And I never know when a word or idea might lead to a new puzzle!


Dennis said...

How cool is this, having an interview with one of our own?

It's always interesting to see where constructing ideas come from, and this was a good interview in that regard. It's also very impressive to me that Rich Norris accepted Marti's submission with so few corrections; we've heard from other established constructors about how they submitted possible puzzles time after time before they were accepted.

Again, great job Marti, and outstanding interview C.C.

Lemonade714 said...

Wicked cool, you snuck into our corner, and now you are published. Thank you for the puzzle and the kind words. C.C. is too modest but was the IV measure a shout out this blog? Are you a New Englander as well?

Hahtoolah said...

Congrats, Marti! When I saw the name of the constructor, you immediately popped into my head! How exciting to have your puzzle appear! Great job!

Dick said...

Congratulations Marti, who would have known!! Nice interview CC.

creature said...

What a great thing this is! Hey! More 'Drama'! I love it! I've been prepared to rave over the puzzle this AM. and what a neat surprise!

It seems to be a natural talent for you and I look forward to many more. Congratulations, Marti!

Grumpy 1 said...

Congratulations! Job well done!

Clear Ayes said...

Good Morning All and a special congratulations to our own HeartRX poster and alter-ego Marti-DuGuay Carpenter. It shouldn't have been a surprise, but it is easy to forget how many roses we have in our garden.

I wanted NO BRAINER and GOLDENROD to fit into the theme. They seemed so well placed for it. But no * and when I got to 68A, I knew I had to give it up.

I liked 24A Lender's product/BAGEL, rather than MONEY.

I was stuck for a little while on 48D Strand on a 22-Across/MAROON. I was thinking of "strand" as a noun, as in a BEACH. Short one letter there, so I had to wait for a perp or two to help out.

LOL, even then I misread the completed fill as MACAROON. I'd like an islet filled will piles of fluffy coconut macaroons!

It must be a little too early in the morning for me. Doctor's appointment at 8:30, so that means we have to be on our way by 7:30. I did have to get up early enough to check out what what happening here. I'm glad I did.

See you all later.

kazie said...

Congratulations, Marti!
What a nice surprise! I would never have guessed, but this is really exciting to see one of our own, a regular commenter in a new role.

Nice interview too, C.C., enjoyable on an additional different level.

MJ said...

Great interview, C.C, Thank you.

Congratulations, Marti, on your debut puzzle! You are a very talented constructor. I found this to be a thoroughly enjoyable solve, and was pleasantly surprised to find it came from "one of our own" here at The Corner. Best wishes to you.

Splynter said...

Marti ~!

Well Done - now it is my turn to take some of the puzzles I have constructed and see if I can get published, too - this is inspirational !


thehondohurricane said...

CC, my deep apologies for not acknowledging you as the interviewer in my comments on today's puzzle. Just wasn't paying attention. Either way, I think it's really neat that one of our daily correspondents is today's constructor. Looking forward to many more Marti.

carol said...

Hey Marti! What a thrill for you and for us! Many congratulation on being published. I am so impressed. Great puzzle too.

ARBAON said...

Heartrx: Congratulations! You have given all us would-be constructors new hope! BTW: Nice arms!

JimmyB said...

Congratulations, Marti! In retrospect, I do recall reading some of your comments and thinking this woman certainly grasps the principles of crosswords on a much higher level than I do. Now it all makes sense!

Great interview, C.C. I love it when you give us a look inside the minds and lives of our constructors.

Vidwan827 said...

Congratulations Marti - HeartRx - on a wonderful puzzle - I could sense you were a dedicated 'solver', at your gritty, persevering stubbornness ( especially at last Sunday's puzzle ).... but this changes everything !

One 'construction' is worth a thousand 'solves'. You have vaulted from the head cheerleader to the MVP.

Despite your diverse professional interests and personal medical problems, you have achieved a dream - and we all wish you the very best and many more elations and triumphs ahead.

C.c. - Thank you for a most wonderful interview. You asked the most precise questions and elicited the answers which brought out the real persona, will and motivation of the constructor. As a blog mistress, your dedication and professionalism is greatly appreciated.

Annette said...

Congratulations, Marti! What a nice surprise! You did a great job. I'd never have guessed it was your first puzzle. I look forward to seeing many more from you.

Jazzbumpa said...

Hearty Marti -

Wow! I'm shocked and awed!

Do keep at it - you're good!

Please accept this.

And I'm grateful for what you do to improve our balance of payments!




Gunghy said...

I,too am in awe.

However, being just down from the Sierra, with a problem in the sacro-iliac, I think you should know that you have one big fan of that cross.

HeartRx said...

Thanks all of you! I can't tell you how warm and fuzzy I am feeling today. If I ever get depressed or frustrated, I'll just return to these posts, and I'll be right as rain. You guys are my inspiration!

But right now, I am working on my latest puzzle and am starting to wonder, "Do blind pigs really EVER find corn???"

Lucina said...

Again, congratulations, Marti/HeartRX! What an accomplished woman you are! And gorgeous, too.

What a lovely surprise to discover you as our constructor today and this your initiation puzzle!

C.C., congratulations to you as well for a thoughtful, provoking interview.

I look forward to more of Marti's puzzles.

Mainiac said...

Congratulations Marti on an excellent debut! Very fun puzzle.

Thanks for the interview CC.

Seldom Seen said...

Congratulations Marti!

But you'll always be HeartRx to me!

Chickie said...

Congratulations to you HeartRx on your premier puzzle. This is such an accomplishment.

I'm looking forward to many more with your bi-line. Your comments every day have been funny, insightful and educational. You have a gift!

JD said...

What a lovely surprise, and such a lovely puzzle.Sierra was great, but maroon gave me pause. I put lagoon, not knowing eero.Eego? So enjoyable, Marti;hope to see more.

C.C., your interviews always make us feel that our constructors are part of our little corner. I know they visit us because of you and your incredible "team." xie xie

Dudley said...

Hello HeartRx - and hello neighbor! I said in some prior post that you need only look in Massachusetts to find intelligence and talent. You stand as proof!

Thanks C.C. for your interesting interview. I'll bet you never knew where your blog would take you...