Author interviews Vol.2 Komieda

InterviewsAuthor round-table

Talking to Komieda

Most puzzle authors are male, Ms. Komieda whom you will meet here is a woman. Ms. Komieda has been very active to supply us with quite a few kinds of puzzles. She is married, the mother of two daughters, one in college and one in high school, and she also works in an office.

NobHave you been interested in puzzles since you were a kid?

KomiedaYes, I liked puzzles. In elementary school I did the Fifteen Puzzle, but my Fifteen Puzzle was really a 35 puzzle, I used mah-jongg tiles and a box. I competed with my sisters for speed. I also liked quizzes and puzzles in magazines. I was especially addicted to matchstick puzzles. My parents were not interested at all, and I became a puzzle fan without really being aware of it. When I was in high school the Rubik's Cube boom just started and I bought one before anybody else at school.

NobDid you solve it by yourself?

KomiedaI couldn't do the last bit, so I looked that up in a guide book. I had no feeling of guilt about getting hints from a guide book. I like puzzles but it is not my everything. I like to do puzzles in moderation. That's how it is even now, I don't like to grind away at difficult puzzles. I guess, deep down I am lazy.

NobWhen did you start making pencil puzzles?

KomiedaIn 1997. I wasn't really confident I could make puzzles but I started. I didn't ask anybody about how to make puzzles at the beginning, and I had to do it my own way. For example with Slitherling, I drew the solution first and then put the numbers. That was hard. Then I heard it was better to make it like when you solve them, and I was amazed at how easy it is to make these puzzles. (laughs)

NobI guess you like making things?

KomiedaYeah! I was always interested in writing and creating from when I was little. In high school I wrote a novel. On the deadline day of the school contest I was still writing in the first row during physics class. I am still the kind of person who can't do anything until the deadline is staring at me. In that novel I aimed to give a good impression to the teachers, because they were my target readers. I had read the winning novel from the pervious year and had thought about how it was angled and used that. Of course I won!

NobYour way of writing the novel sounds like it would work with puzzles too.

KomiedaYou are right there. I try to keep up on what makes puzzle solvers happy with my puzzles, so they enjoy solving them. I am not trying to push my ideas on the solvers. I am trying for "customer satisfaction" (laughs). I would like more people to be fans of my puzzles. I really want solvers to become my fans. (laughs)

NobRight, I get it. Then what do you aim for in your puzzles?

KomiedaPuzzle authors live by the people who solve their puzzles. There is no point in making puzzles that no one wants to solve. Looking attractive, wanting to be solved, and fun to solve that is the kind of puzzles I aim for. If I only think about the attractive appearance something is lost, a puzzle needs more. And I think I need to polish my skills and make better puzzles. My next puzzle will be my best I hear others say, and I think there is truth in that.

NobWhat exactly is it you pay attention to?

KomiedaFirst, I always try not to disappoint my fans. For example I heard that 4 is a favorite number in Akari, so I put 4 in four times in a 10 x 10 Akari puzzle, but so that the solutions needed four different hints. That puzzle was praised by both beginners and specialists. And a Slithelink puzzle that can be solved without lifting the pencil from the paper would also be attractive both to beginners and experts. A puzzle that is clearly made by me and enjoyable to everybody is a high hurdle for me, I feel that pressure strongly.

NobIs that why you make many easy puzzles?

KomiedaI myself don't like very difficult puzzles, even just hard ones. I make puzzles where there are many starting points and I am careful to make the puzzling gentle. Not easy, but gentle. (laughs)

NobSo what is a puzzle to puzzle author Komieda?

KomiedaA tool for communication! Puzzles are there to make us get along with each other like real friends. With the nikoli mobile-phone site and you know that there are many people out there solving the same puzzles. I cannot see them but we are part of a community. Our modern conveniences give me that kind of feeling.

NobNow the last question, anything that you want to tell people solving puzzles?

KomiedaI hope you enjoy my puzzles. Even if you are very good at solving puzzles, try my puzzles to take a break. Call my puzzles healers, stress relievers, HEALING puzzles. (laughs)

Interviewed May 2007 Published on Nov 5, 2007