About Me

My name is Nathan Curtis. I write puzzles.

I have been constructing puzzles full-time since 2015. I write a lot of variety crosswords and logic puzzles, many of which I make available to my supporters on Patreon. But I also enjoy working on larger projects, especially puzzle hunts. My puzzle hunts What's That Spell? and Verwald's Treasures were funded through Kickstarter, and I have worked with the National Museum of Mathematics several times to create their annual Dimensions Puzzle Hunt, most recently in December 2019. I am also active in the puzzle community, writing puzzles for events like the Miskatonic University Game and the Boston Area Puzzle Hunt League, and presenting games at gatherings like the annual convention of the National Puzzlers' League.

Before becoming a full-time constructor, I was an avid solver, and my early efforts at writing puzzles were an extension of this hobby. I have participated in the MIT Mystery Hunt every year since 2003, and some of my first puzzles were written as pre-Hunt warmups for my team. My involvement with BAPHL and the NPL also stems from my participation in the Mystery Hunt, as I sought to connect with solvers on other teams, both locally and across the country. My occasional constructing efforts became a more regular hobby, and my skills improved with practice. I first got to work with a puzzle editor when submitting puzzles to the NPL's monthly magazine, The Enigma, and my first professional bylines came in Will Shortz's WordPlay from Penny Dell Puzzles.

Turning a hobby into a profession also marked a transition away from my earlier career. Before I considered myself a puzzle constructor, music was at the center of my life. I worked as a composer and bass trombonist, and I also taught math courses during the summer. Throughout my life, I have found it difficult to settle on just one field, and music and math were both keen interests of mine since I was young. I always bristled when people would react to his by telling me how similar math and music were; to me, they felt very different. But, looking back, I think there is a common thread that ties together my interest in math, music, and puzzles.

Mathematics, music, and puzzles are all full of patterns to play with and structures to explore. I am autistic, and these patterns and structures hold great interest to me, both intellectually and emotionally. Playing with patterns is fulfulling, but even better, these formal patterns and structures can also convey meaning. Lines and angles can become a geometric theorem, notes and rests can create an emotional experience, and interlocking letters can become words and names and places. This interplay between form and meaning gives me a way to connect with others.

Reaching out to other people and making connections is very important to me. One of the challenges that my autism presents is difficulty engaging with others in the ways that are often expected of me, but sharing the patterns that swirl about in my brain is a way for me to communicate meaningfully. When I teach a theorem to students, play music with my friends, or make a puzzle for you to solve, I get to share a part of myself, and allow others to share in return. There's a whole world of ideas in my mind, and you're invited to explore some of them.

Welcome to my world.