Constructor Bio

Nathan Curtis is a puzzle constructor living in Somerville, Massachusetts. He regularly writes cryptic crosswords, variety puzzles, and puzzle hunts for a range of venues. Drawing on his many interests, including music and mathematics, he uses puzzles as a way to share his love of exploration and play.

Born in New York City and raised in Northern Virginia, Nathan excelled in math and music, winning top math competitions and playing in All-State ensembles during high school. On the weekends, Nathan enjoyed solving the Sunday New York Times crossword, but eventually his parents made him wait until they got stuck before he could help. He continued to study both math and music in college, eventually majoring in music while teaching summer math courses at the Center for Talented Youth. He earned a B.A. in Music from Duke University and an M.A. in Music from Tufts University, concentrating on composition. After completing his master's degree, Nathan chose to stay in the Boston area, working as a composer and bass trombonist.

While music was the focus of his career, Nathan's interest in puzzles grew. Nathan attended the MIT Mystery Hunt starting in 2003, and continued his involvement through graduate school. He became active in the puzzling community, joining the National Puzzlers' League in 2007 and participating in local events like the Boston Area Puzzle Hunt League. He started writing puzzles on the side in 2007, and in 2010 he co-wrote his first puzzle hunt for a public audience, leading a group to produce BAPHL's second ever hunt. Eventually, he transitioned to writing puzzles professionally, starting as a freelance contributor to the magazine Will Shortz's WordPlay in 2014.

In 2015, Nathan launched Tortoiseshell Studio on Patreon, where he regularly publishes variety crosswords, logic puzzles, and other enigmatic diversions with the support of his patrons. In 2016 and 2017, he produced What's That Spell, a puzzle hunt funded through Kickstarter. He has worked with the National Museum of Mathematics to produce their annual Dimensions Puzzle Hunt on many occasions, most recently in 2019. He remains active in the puzzle community, writing puzzles for local hunts like BAPHL and the Miskatonic University Game and volunteering for events like DASH and Puzzled Pint. He has presented games at the National Puzzlers' League's annual convention, and he keeps in touch with other constructors and puzzle enthusiasts using a series of short grunts, also known as Twitter.

Currently, Nathan spends most of his time writing puzzles for Patreon and working to finish his second Kickstarter-funded puzzle hunt, Verwald's Treasures. He lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, and continues to attend the MIT Mystery Hunt and BAPHL whenever he can.