Jen writes: I am a puzzle freak. Word puzzles and Sudoku are my specialties, but really, I just love any kind of puzzle. So when we got an email from a “LOST” fan named Anne Dawson who published a book full of puzzles, I could hardly wait to get my hands on it. The back cover copy was especially enticing: “‘LOST Mind Games’ not only plays with your mind but actually gives you a way to challenge your LOST knowledge.” Sign me up!
Turns out that Anne published this book on her own. She’d been creating puzzles for her nephew for some time (see Q&A below) and collected them all in a single volume.
This is not your average LOST trivia book. This is for hardcore fans. It’s for really scary-smart hardcore fans who have watched all three seasons on DVD. Twice. I thought I knew everything there was to know about this show, but even I learned a couple of things. Did you know Jack’s mom’s name? I didn’t either.
There are five basic sections in “LOST Mind Games.” The first is Rebus puzzles. The second section consists of grids of nine letters in which are hidden character names and places. There’s a section of find-a-quotes. Then we have what seems to be at first a set of basic word searches, but it’s really slightly more complicated than that. And then, my favorite part: matching. The matching section is where those repeated viewings of the show really come in handy. The questions are fiendish and clever and, for me, well worth the price of a copy.
You can buy your copy today at Amazon. If you like it as much as I did, be sure to post your own review at Amazon or as a comment here!
In fact, I loved the book so much, I wanted to talk to the person who put it together. I put together a quick Q&A and sent it over to Anne, and she was gracious enough to reply with her thoughts.
Tell me about your family.
I am married, no kids. I have a very large extended family. Two brothers and two sisters and lots of nieces and nephews. And a tremendous number of first cousins. We spend a great deal of time together and always have a great time. Any family gathering includes the LOST fanatics who can’t discuss anything else except what has happened on the latest episode.
Some people find this hard to believe but my entire family all vacations together on the Jersey shore. That includes 4 generations ranging in ages from 2 to 79. It is not unusual for us to have 50+ of our “immediate family” together at any given time. And there is usually at least one LOST discussion going on at all times.
How did you come up with the idea for the book?
My 16 year old nephew and I were deep into a LOST discussion on the beach one day last summer and we started talking about LOST’s visual clues and their meaning. I asked him if he was familiar with Rebus puzzles (the type of pictographs puzzles in Chapter One of my book). So I started drawing a few Rebus puzzles that were LOST related. And he just went crazy over them.
One thing led to another, and I continued making LOST related puzzles and mind games for him well into the Fall. But by that time, I was doing them in various software programs and instead of being hand-drawn, I created them all on my computer.
Also, I had expanded my designs to include some of the other formats in my book, like the hidden name squares, the hidden quotes and the distinctly shaped Search & Select puzzles. (By the way, Charlie’s Guitar is my favorite in the Search & Select chapter.)
My nephew was the one who suggested that I put together a collection of the mind games for a book. By October I realized I had created over 100 mind games and that maybe it was time to start thinking seriously about a book. I got a big group of family and friends together and showed them what I had done so far and the group consensus was that I should go for it.
Are you a puzzle person? What kind of puzzles do you like?
I have always been a puzzle person. And while I’m a fan of crossword puzzles and trivia quizzes, I really prefer puzzles and mind games that challenge me to use out-of-the-box thinking. I started making my own puzzles and mind games when I was a Teaching Assistant at Rutgers University. I used to make them for the undergraduate students that I taught. They were always a big hit. But I hadn’t made any of them for years before I started making them for my nephew.
I have to say that I was also a little disappointed by some of the LOST trivia challenges that are out there. Like most lost fans, I love the interactive nature of the show. You know, how it sends LOST fans scrambling to seek out answers.
The one thing I really wanted to do when I put this book together was to create an interactive format. Something that wasn’t merely a regurgitation of facts, but that made you actually sit down and think about what you have seen and heard and then apply that info to solve some unique mind games. Something that would be a lot more satisfying than just picking A, B or C as the answer.
How difficult did you find the publishing process? How long did it take?
Well, first I sat down and created the balance of the over 200 puzzles and mind games. That was my biggest challenge.
I wanted to be sure that they were original enough and challenging enough to satisfy the LOST fan base. Which, as I’m sure you know, can be a very demanding audience. I also wanted to be sure that the information that I included would be intriguing enough to all attract all LOST fans, no matter which theory about LOST they might be inclined to believe.
I also hit the internet pretty hard and did my homework to find out about how to go about getting a book published. I discovered that I had several options including: Traditional Publishers, Print-on-Demand Publishing and Self Publishing.
Each option had its own advantages. But the deciding factor for me was that I knew that I wanted a few things to happen to satisfy me.
I had completed all of the mind games by the end of December 2007 and I wanted to get the book to market as soon as possible and I was adamant that I wanted to be able to have a really nice paper stock that would make the illustrations nice and vibrant, that would hold up to the heavy ink needed for some of the drawings (without making them too visible through the back of the pages) and probably most importantly, a heavy enough paper so it would hold up to erasing (when necessary) without poking a hole in the paper.
Traditional publishing would have taken many, many months to accomplish and from what I’ve learned it would have meant that I would have given up some of the control over many of the creative aspects of my book. I did not want that to happen.
Print-On-Demand is a wonderful option for any first time author, but it would have limited the types of paper that I could choose from and, after I requested some paper samples, none of them met my expectations.
So I turned to Self-Publishing. It was the best option for me. It was quicker and it gave me complete control over every aspect of my book. And because of my day job, I am familiar with printing.
I already had the majority of the mind games on my computer and I am actually quite proficient in a number of software programs. So I sat down and after many, many long hours I actually type-set the entire book myself. Yup, from start to finish. I contacted several printers for samples and quotes and I chose a wonderful company in Southern California to work with.
Controlling all aspects of the book, including the cover design and the entire layout has been a wonderful experience. And I couldn’t be happier with the the end result.
The book is currently available exclusively on Amazon.com. And although I am speaking with several other book sellers and distributors (because it never hurts to explore all your options), I may just stick with Amazon because they are so easy to work with.
The matching questions are surprisingly difficult. How did you come up with ideas for them?
I wanted to create some of the Mind Games to cover specific topics. For instance, LOST books or music or even Sawyer’s nicknames. They were some of the Mind Games that took me the longest to complete. They took many hours of fact checking.
Everyone looks at that kind of game and thinks, how hard can this be?
I wanted to be sure that while they seem like anyone can complete them at first glance, that they were some of most challenging mind games in the book. Especially because you have to be careful as you work through them. The first answer you think of may not be the correct answer. But there is only one way to complete each Mind Game in that Chapter.
Remember the comment I made above about carefully choosing the paper, well, I knew that these would absolutely have to hold up to erasing without poking holes in the page!
Do you have a Lost-related forum or website of choice?
There are so many great ones out there and way too few hours to visit them all. I’m not a big poster but I am a lurker on the Fuselage, the ABC Forums, and a number of the fan run sites. I’m impressed that so many fans have such great ideas. I listen to as many podcasts as I can. I just love listening to all the different theories. And I am amazed by the details that people pick out.
I also have to give a big thank you to some of the great websites that I used to check all my facts against. LostHatch, LongLostList and LOSTisaGame. I can’t believe how much time they all put into collecting facts about the show. Want to know how many times a polar bear has been shown, or who was reading what book? Well, you can find the answers at those sites. I know, Lostpedia is also a good resource, but I find that the way that those other sites are organized can make fact checking a bit easier, at least for me.
So, what’s your personal all-encompassing theory about the island?
This is the toughest question since I actually like a few of them out there. I like the idea of portals caused by magnetic vortexes, I also like the mirror theories, the idea that Widmore and Paik are behind it all, and a few others. So instead of just picking one all-encompassing theory, I’d rather state that my biggest hope is that the theories about Jin and Danielle still being alive are true.