Across: The name of the Miami University alum who has written a crossword puzzle that will appear in The New York Times.
The answer: 23-year-old Andrew Reynolds, whose long time hobby has landed him as a first-time author of one of the nation’s most prestigious puzzle pages. Reynolds, who graduated from Miami with a chemical engineering degree in 2010, wrote crosswords for The Miami Student during his time here.
The New York Times famously accepts submissions for its crossword puzzles and Reynolds said that this was his seventh attempt. He explained his excitement when he was notified his puzzle had been chosen.
“I was pretty excited,” Reynolds said. “I didn’t have my hopes up, as I thought my first six tries were pretty good, and so I was caught off guard. I called everyone.”
He started writing puzzles in high school for fun after being inspired by his father’s and grandmother’s interest in crossword puzzles. Today, Reynolds is a graduate student in urban planning at the University of Cincinnati.
He once again writes crosswords merely as a hobby; though he has made pitches to UC’s student paper to run his puzzles, they have so far shown less interest in his talents than The New York Times and The Miami Student.
Nevertheless, his hobby has paid dividends: a $200 prize. Inspired by his love for crosswords, and a little by the reward, he will continue to submit puzzles.
“There is a website that keeps track of the puzzles and the authors. About half the list are one time authors who probably reached their goal and don’t feel like doing it anymore,” Reynolds said. “I’m not done. I’ve already submitted two since.”
Reynolds said it usually takes three to four months to hear back. When he sent this puzzle in, in March 2010, he soon got antsy, as he felt the puzzle had great potential. Reynolds emailed the editor of the crossword section, who replied saying that, while he liked the puzzle, there were a few issues and it had been rejected. Reynolds fixed these problems, resubmitted it and was notified his puzzle had been chosen. This experience taught Reynolds a valuable lesson.
“The sky’s the limit. The biggest lesson I can pass on is that you shouldn’t be afraid or hesitant of contacting anyone,” Reynolds said. “I learned to not be intimidated to contact someone I think is unreachable, because you never know what will happen. I will remember this in future job searches.”
Reynolds revealed that the theme of the puzzle is Led Zepplin’s “Stairway to Heaven.” He admits that he is not the world’s biggest Zepplin fan. Rather, he chose this subject because he learned to be on the look-out for topics that could make for relevant and intriguing crosswords and this year marks the 40th anniversary of the song.
When asked if he could give any additional insights, such as an early answer, or at least a clue, Reynolds coyly gave a two-letter word for rejection: