The Very First Phuzzl

Want to know about the history of the phuzzl? We asked Steve Barley what inspired him to create the very first phuzzl:

 ‘It was when I was on a pilgrimage to a remote Tibetan monastery. A sudden snow storm forced me to take shelter in a cave. As the blizzard raged outside I hunkered down with my emergency rations of Yak’s milk and a packet of Oreos. The idea for a phuzzl came as local monks rescued me two weeks later just as I’d reached a truly enlightened state… of stomach if not mind after all that Yak’s milk!’

That sounds amazing… far-fetched. Really?

‘Okay, you got me. It was more movie theatre than monastery, and the rations were actually diet cola and salty popcorn – although for a lot of people that probably has the same effect as Yak’s milk.

Anyway, my son, Christian, and I were there to see James Bond in Skyfall. Filled with an adrenaline-fuelled buzz after seeing a truly great film, we couldn’t stop talking about it all the way home. At one point we challenged ourselves to name all the previous Bond movies, and I made an offhand comment to my son, I wonder if it’s possible to weave all the Bond movie titles into a short story that still makes sense? Christian told me to go for it and, shortly after, I wrote my first phuzzl, Bond’s Back.

They must be difficult to write, how do you go about creating a new phuzzl?

‘I come up with a theme first, then sit in front of my desktop and write the story. If the two won’t combine to make me laugh, then I throw both away and start again – the whole process takes about a week and I recycle a lot of paper! As to the exact method I use to hide the answers phonetically in the text…well, that’s between me and the Tibetan monks!’

Any last words?

‘If people enjoy solving phuzzls as much as I enjoy writing them, then my pilgrimage is done.’