Some bio: I am a newspaper editor in Detroit. I have had some mystery short stories published in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, where I was once the managing editor many, many years ago. I recently had my first play, "Clutter," produced at Theatre Nova in Ann Arbor, and I am the artistic director of a small theatre company called Pencilpoint Theatreworks here in Ypsilanti. Ann Arbor constructors James Tuttle and Peter Collins are local celebrities in my mind.
My puzzle went through three revisions over the course of a year. Will was incredibly patient with me as I worked through refining the theme answers and the fill. This was the sixth puzzle I had submitted for Will's consideration so you can see I'm a slow learner. This particular theme came to me as I recalled days when my son was very young, and he went through a period when he was delighted with "Knock Knock" jokes. We would spend time before bed making different ones up. I thought combining knock-knock jokes with a crossword would make an interesting hybrid.
One theme answer that didn't work for Will that I thought was funny was the classic, "Hutch who?" with the response being "gesundheit." He wanted the responses to be complete sentences, which is the better idea, but I shed a few tears letting "gesundheit" go.