, pub-2774194725043577, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0 L.A.Times Crossword Corner: Interview with Peg Slay


Apr 10, 2015

Interview with Peg Slay

Peg Slay is our own C6D6 Peg, who has been quietly posting on this blog since May, 2014.

Today's DROPPER is Peg's third puzzle for the LA Times. Her first puzzle was published on May 30, 2013. Click here, you'll see that she loves wordplay and all her puzzles have a distinctive style.

Steve (Peg's husband) & Peg
I loved the reveal! How did this theme come to you and what were the other theme answers you also considered but discarded? 

I like to either add or drop something in a phrase to make a fun theme answer.  When DROPPER came to mind, the first theme answer was ONECENTMILK.  I use an on-line dictionary to find other answers that start or end with PER to come up with the others.  I originally had HERMESFUMES (Son of Zeus loses his cool) and BUMMAGNET (One who attracts loafers), but Rich didn’t think enough people were familiar with Hermes Perfumes or Bumper Magnets.  I really wanted two entries to drop the PER at the beginning and two at the end, but finally settled with JALAPENOPOP, which was Rich’s favorite.

I imagined you tried DROPPER at the very right edge intersecting JALAPENO POP or the central 8th row, then you settled down at the current 39-Down spot. Or did you have this current theme entry arrangement from the very start?  

Yes, I had wanted DROPPER at the very right edge, but when trying to complete the fill, had to rearrange the theme answers and grid so I didn’t have fill that started and ended with vowels or unusual consonants. 
What problems did you encounter in the filling process? 

It’s really hard for me to come up with 3-letter fill that’s interesting and not the usual crosswordese.  This fill was pretty easy, the hardest being 15D (Starts with an S and ends with an I). 

Tell us a bit about yourself. What's your background? And how did you get into crossword construction?

I’ve been retired 4 years after 35 years in the business field.  Originally, I’m from Milwaukee, but now live south of Houston.  I’ve been solving crossword puzzles for as long as I can remember.  My husband and I have been doing the LA Times for over 13 years.  After retirement, I was looking for a hobby to fill some time, and my husband suggested I create a crossword from an old program we had.  The first couple of puzzles were mostly done by hand.  I really like Crossword Compiler, and try to use as much of the help it will give.  

What kind of theme & fill fascinate you and what kind do you try to avoid in your grids?   

I love the play on words theme most, although I really enjoy Saturday’s themeless.  I like a puzzle that will really make me think.  I really try to avoid the crosswordese fill and look for some new words for solvers to learn. 
Which part do you enjoy the most in the construction process: theme development, filling or cluing?  

Best part of the process is coming up with the theme development and then the fill.  I think it gives the solver some clue into your personality and mindset.  However, it takes me a long time to come up with a theme that I feel is clever enough, or one that I can develop into at least 4-5 theme answers. 
What kind of reference tools do you use for crossword construction & cluing?   

As I said, Crossword Compiler is great, but I also use a lot of on-line dictionaries, Word Search (More Words), Google and other sites.  I also have two books on Phrases and Idioms that I use occasionally. 
Besides crosswords, what else do you do for fun? 

My husband and I do a lot of volunteer work.  We love watching movies.  I also play handbells (thus the name C6D6Peg).  We like to go camping in spring and fall and love the time away.


Lemonade714 said...

How cool and sneaky another Corner denizen creating the puzzles.

Thanks for the insight, I learned a lot about handbrake after reading this.

Big Easy said...

I had a hard time getting going on this one. The NW was completely blank, although I figured GAD and ADO would be correct. And I had trouble in the SW. And the SE. I basically started with INKS and KALE and worked right to left.

I got the theme at THE BIG DIP before I got to DROP PER. But this one took some grinding to finish. Unknown answers for unknown clues took some time. Dick Dastardly, Cuckoopints, Green Day, filled with DRAT, ARUMS, TRE. I had to scratch my head when RISHI filled with the 3-letter crosses. ADAPTATION was all perps. I'm not a movie fan, although there is a new MAD MAX movie coming out that might be interesting to see.

A couple of latin endings, STRATI and FAUNAE were new to me. I had always heard the term STRATA for layers but maybe it is different for stratus clouds.

I liked the puzzle a lot.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed this puzzle. I, too, live south of Houston in Webster. Constructing a puzzle is on my bucket list.

Irish Miss said...

Great interview, CC. Welcome, Peg: how nice to have another talented constructor in the Corner's "family."

SwenglishMom said...

Awesome and admirable! Loved the fresh cluing.

coneyro said...

I give you "props" for your effort. Talent for constructing intelligent, entertaining puzzles is not a gift bestowed on the average person. So kudos to one of the selected elite. Very well done!