My name is Kevin Royal and I invented the Outsider puzzle.
Ever since I picked up my first copy of Puzzler magazine as a teenager back in the '70s I've been hooked on puzzles. No school holiday at the time would have been complete without a series of Skeletons, Codewords or Double Crosses to solve.
So when I took a step into the dark in 2006 and left my last full-time salaried job, not having any idea as to what the future would bring, and asked myself not "what can I do that's already out there?", but "what do I really want to do?" it was only natural that my thoughts turned to puzzle compiling.
A couple of years later I landed a job writing questions for a quiz website and when I discovered that my editor used to work for a puzzle magazine I asked her how I could break into that field. She told me that far and away the best way (if not the only way) was to come up with a new puzzle as editors are always on the look out for fresh ideas.
So I invented the Outsider.
Okay, so it wasn't quite as straightforward as that, but the basic idea did just pop into my head whilst meditating one morning in 2009. Initially it was conceived as a straight logic puzzle which just had the letters and numbers around the outside and no clues. The idea to add the clues came later when it was decided such an approach might make the puzzle
too difficult to solve (although it is possible to ignore the clues and treat it as a logic puzzle for those who like a real challenge).
Once I'd perfected the puzzle I pitched it to a couple of magazine editors where fortunately it was met with a very positive response and I was soon commissioned to supply it on a regular basis. Word quickly spread amongst the puzzle editing community and it wasn't long before the Outsider (or its Blank Slate variant) was a regular in most major puzzle magazines (although only Puzzler Collection features it in the larger (and my preferred) 15x15 format). I'm now extremely proud to say it's one of the most popular word puzzles out there.
As for me personally, home is a beautiful cottage in South Wales (shared with my two beautiful dogs) which has a view of the sea from the garden (providing I stand on my tiptoes and it's post Autumn).
In 2001 I was a (winning) contestant on the BBC TV show The Weakest Link, and in 2006 I was a (winning) contestant on the Channel 5 TV show Brainteaser. One of these days I'll get round to submitting my application to the TV show I'd really love to appear on ... Countdown.
When I'm not creating or solving puzzles, or walking my dogs, or watching films, I can invariably be found on the local bowling green if the weather is good. And even if the weather isn't so good I'll still more likely than not be found there.
In addition to the Outsider I also invented the Letter Opener (and it's variants The Nth Degree, All at C, P Soup etc.), Pick 'n' Mix (exclusive to Puzzler), Hex Pathfinder (exclusive to Puzzle Compendium) and I currently compile other puzzles for Puzzler, Take a Crossword and Take a Puzzle.
It still gives me a warm feeling, even now, to recall the time I saw my first Outsider featured in Puzzler magazine - the magazine that set me off on this adventure all those years ago.
For further information of the development of the puzzle, here's how Puzzler Media wrote it up on their website back in 2010: