Liverpool graduate publishes crossword book on: Largest rainforest (6)
Since graduating Alan Holford (BVSc 2010) has worked in small animal practice around Shropshire, North Wales, and the West Midlands. He is currently the President of the Shropshire Veterinary Association and has recently published a book of veterinary crosswords.
Alan wrote his first veterinary crossword for the Veterinary Voices Facebook group; he wanted to create some fun and positive content for the group, which was founded by a friend and fellow Liverpool graduate, Danny Chambers (BVSc 2008, MSc 2008). The crossword was very popular, and the feedback Alan received was overwhelmingly positive.
This gave Alan the confidence to pursue a regular slot in a veterinary publication. Another contemporary of Liverpool, Ebony Escalona (BSc 2007, BVSC 2009), organised a Vets: Stay, Go or Diversify live event. It was here that Alan met Paul Imrie from the Vet Times: “After sealing the deal, I started producing a crossword every four weeks for that magazine. From there I decided to approach other publications in English speaking countries and have syndicated to magazines in Australia and New Zealand.”
Each puzzle takes a staggering four or five hours for Alan to put together. He uses special software to produce the crosswords. This already contained a dictionary of medical terms, but Alan has also created additional veterinary-specific wordlists, for example dog and cat breeds. Alan tells us that “the first step is choosing a grid pattern and the software will show me which words from my chosen lists will fit in each gap”.
Alan continues: “I choose each word manually to give the best balance, sometimes having to go back a few steps to make sure there are relevant words to fit in the final few spaces. I then write the clues using reference books and creativity. Most of the clues are definition or fact based, with the odd cryptic clue thrown in. I also try and add alliteration or a poetic flow to some clues to make it more enjoyable.”
The book features 30 classic puzzles previously published in the Vet Times as well as 20 brand new puzzles. Below are some example clues (answers at the bottom of the article). Do not worry, these are not in the book, so no spoilers!
1. Victim of outbreaks of Canine Distemper Virus in the UK in 1988 and 2002. (4)
2. South American rodent; pattern of pigmentation where individual hairs have dark and light bands with black tips. (6)
3. Cat perhaps at home lying prone on a rug and prone to mats. (cryptic) (7)
4. Is this echinoderm a Pisces? (cryptic) (8)
Veterinary Crosswords Volume One is available to buy on Amazon.co.uk (and other Amazon sites globally) for £8.99. Each book is printed as it is ordered by the customer and then dispatched within 24 hours. This helps to minimise waste and carbon footprint.
Answers: 1. Seal 2. Agouti 3. Persian 4. Starfish.