Cruciverbalist: 'People across the country are enjoying my puzzle'

INDEPENDENCE, Ore. - Dave Sarpola is many things.

"I'm an engineer and I have a degree in mechanical engineering from Oregon State," Sarpola said.

But a man of few words is not one of them.

As he builds a crossword puzzle on his computer, he sifts through a variety of words to build it with.

"I'm a cruciverbalist, which means that I'm a crossword constructor," Sarpola said.

Sarpola has been busy constructing crossword puzzles in his free time for the last 2 1/2 years.

"My first crossword, the grid took me 12 hours and it was terrible," Sarpola said.

Sarpola uses Crossword Compiler to build the grids for his puzzles.

He said the hardest part is thinking of 78 clues for all the words in a crossword puzzle.

After just one year of constructing crosswords, Sarpola's first puzzle made it in the Los Angeles Times.

Sarpola said he will never forget his co-worker's reaction.

"He was solving it and he gets all the way to the end and he looks at the theme and he said this is just like Dave's," Sarpola said. "He looks at it and saw my name and he said 'It is Dave's!'"

Since then Sarpola has had 7 more crosswords published several in GAMES Magazine, GAMES World of Puzzles and the New York Times.

So the next time you do a crossword, you might want to double check the byline: the cruciverbalist behind the words in that puzzle could be Sarpola.

"The thing about it that's really cool is millions of people across the country are enjoying my puzzle," Sarpola said.

Sarpola gets paid $200 for every puzzle published in the New York Times, $85 for puzzles in the LA Times, and $50 for puzzles GAMES Magazine.

However, the cruciverbalist said he doesn't do it for the money: he said he enjoys it so much he would even do it for free.