In 2007, as part of the publicity campaign for Bad Monkeys, I created a puzzle contest. The contest was advertised using printed “drop cards” (meant to be left in public places to entice curious passersby) and online graphics featuring the mandrill icon. Typing in the URL “www.areyouabadmonkey.com” brought you to the (now defunct) website where the puzzle was hosted.
The puzzle was up for the better part of a year before it was solved by Jutta Degener and her coworkers at a San Francisco startup called Metaweb. By that time the Bad Monkeys paperback was about to be released, so I kept the contest running and offered a second-place prize to anyone else who could crack it. Two months later, Josh Larios emailed with the solution.
I designed the puzzle using Crossword Express, an extremely versatile program that can create traditional crosswords, Cryptics, Acrostics, Sudoku, Kakuro, and many other puzzle varieties, and output them as graphics files or as Java applets. I used the 7.8a “Professional” version of the software, which I paid for. The programmer has since released a fully enabled freeware version. It’s definitely worth checking out if you’re a puzzle fanatic.