SOPHIE: I'm excited to be making my NYT debut, especially with a collaboration between me and my very first and only Internet friend, Ross Trudeau.
I connected with Ross through the Crossword Puzzle Collaboration Directory on Facebook during the stay-at-home part of the pandemic. Learning from his expertise and working together on puzzles (plus meeting his cute cat, Ruby) over Zoom has been a highlight of the past year and a half. For this puzzle, Ross suggested the idea/revealer and then we came up with the theme answers together — at this point I can't remember who thought up what. We were expecting the editors to nix our theme clues, but I'm glad they survived!
ROSS: After this puzzle was accepted, Sophie and I shared a virtual happy hour with a crossword-inspired black and white dress code, but for which we had trouble deciding what the most apt "crossword cocktail" might be. We remain open to suggestions, which you can share via my personal crossword site, Rossword Puzzles, or by @-ing me and Sophie on Twitter.