When James Leonard initiated the Enigmatic Variations series, he was very clear that he wanted the title of the puzzle to appear in the preamble. This would reinforce to solvers that the title was an integral part of the information presented to help them solve the puzzle. A few EVs have escaped this requirement, but not many. I can’t remember much of where the idea for this puzzle came from, but I do recall that an early thought was that the preamble might reference the title twice – once in relation to the grid entries being displaced from their apparent clue numbers, and once in relation to the central theme word.
I can recall jotting down the basic concept where the names of traitors were clued and then shuffled, treacherously, out of place. I can’t recall the leap to having TRAITOR in the grid, but not en clair. In retrospect, it seems rather neat, and I suspect it actually emerged from, or in cahoots with, the idea of referencing the title twice. “OK, we’ve got the traitors clued unreliably – how can we treat the theme word not dissimilarly?” And there, suddenly, the idea of having to ‘correct’ entries to find the theme word was. If I’d known I’d be blogging it, I might have paid more attention. I have just used the idea again, this time to delay the appearance of a theme word that could otherwise reveal itself too early in proceedings.
I tried to make the traitor clues slightly harder than usual, though I am never quite sure how successful I am doing so. Beyond that, there was the usual issue of trying to ensure the four relevant clues were properly jumbled in order (four is not quite enough to stop you observing spurious patterns, so you keep shuffling them round and round), but otherwise just the standard agonies of cluewriting.