Daniel Handler, best known under his pen name, Lemony Snicket, will be presenting this Sunday at the Texas Book Festival. And as a big fan, I was almost giddy to have the opportunity to ask him a few questions before his arrival in Austin.
Author of the wildly popular dark and humorous A Series of Unfortunate Events, Lemony Snicket is once again narrator in the Young Adult novels, All the Wrong Questions — a series that tracks young Snicket’s adventures during his apprenticeship at the V.F.D. And for younger readers, Lemony Snicket collaborated with award-winning illustrator Jon Klassen last year on their bestselling picture book The Dark, which has become a favorite of my three young sons.
Mr. Handler provides LiveMom readers with some quick wit and quirky humor in an interview below that we hope you’ll enjoy. Be sure to hear him in person at the Texas Book Festival on Sunday, Oct. 27th at 1:15 p.m. in the Capitol Auditorium, Room E1.004.
LiveMom Asks Lemony Snicket Some of the Wrong Questions:
LiveMom: At what age did Mr. Snicket begin writing? And what inspires him to share new stories with children?
Daniel Handler: Mr. Snicket began writing as soon as he could. Like me, he shared an instinctive camaraderie with literature which is his primary and most fulfilling inspiration.
LiveMom: He has told such dreadful tales. How did he find a publisher who wanted to share these mysterious and depressing stories? Was it ever a struggle to to get his books published?
DH: The challenge has always been to convince publishers they are worth publishing but not worth reading. Capitalism interferes with this delicate balance, but such is the way of the world.
LiveMom: What advice would you give to young writers?
DH: “Document every injustice you find. All of your writing will come in handy.”
LiveMom: Have you ever been to Texas? What does Mr. Snicket look forward to about spending some time in Austin?
DH: It is always a disappointment to arrive in Austin when it is not bat season, but both Mr. Snicket and I will drown our sorrow in Mexican food and drink.
LiveMom: Are there any other authors or illustrators attending the Texas Book Festival that you look forward to meeting?
DH: It is quite an impressive list this year, but sadly Mr. Snicket’s schedule prevents much fraternization, as does mine. Longtime comrades must be content with salutes across courtyards and crowded rooms, and Mr. Snicket and I must dream of another time to corner Lily Tuck and babble our admiration.
LiveMom: During the festival, Jon Scieszka is planning to emcee a fashion show where children are invited to dress up as their favorite book characters. If you were to don a costume for this event, what would you wear?
DH: Whatever Mr. Scieszka was allergic to, so that I might be thrown out of such a show. Mr. Scieszka is a fine writer and a powerful talent and an utter scoundrel. I would no more parade costumers in front of him than I would put a mouse by a trap.
Editor’s Note: Because of scheduling conflicts, Jon Scieskza is no longer available to emcee this event, but Adam Rex, author of Moonday, will be there to host the Storybook Fashion Show on Saturday at 11 a.m. Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett will present Battle Bunny at the Read Me a Story Tent at 1:30 p.m.
LiveMom: It is rumored that you are quite the accordion player and that you grew up listening to opera and classical music. Since Austin, TX is known as “The Live Music Capital of the World”, can we expect a special musical performance during Mr. Snicket’s book festival session?
DH: By near-national and oft-spoken consensus we are not bringing an accordion with us this year.
DH: All genres of writing have their delights and downsides. The downside of All The Wrong Questions, for instance, is that its secrets are necessarily limited to fellow members of Mr. Snicket’s secret organization. The downside to The Dark is that is not suitable for anyone at all.
LiveMom: Does your own son enjoy reading Lemony Snicket’s books?
DH: My son, sensibly, finds Snicket’s work too disturbing and has been concentrating on the adventures of Tintin.
Finally, there are several children in Austin, TX who are big fans of Mr. Snicket’s work who sent in some of their burning questions…
- “How did you come up with your characters’ names?” — Iris, age 7
DH: People can be named almost anything nowadays. You see, Iris, when a man and a woman love each other very much, and want to have a baby…they do. Then, they name it.
- “At one point Lemony Snicket disappeared and no one knew where he was…where did he go?” –Jordan, age 9 1/2
DH: You forgot to look in your closet. Your room is a mess, by the way, Jordan.
- “Lemony Snicket is an unusual name. Where did the idea for that name come from?” — Darlene, age 9
DH: Mr. and Mrs. Snicket thought of it themselves, during cocktail hour one romantic evening.
- “Are you still afraid of the dark?” — Graham, age 4
DH: I am more afraid of four-year-olds who can type.
- “Do you have more fun writing about scary things than happy things?” — Sam, age 11
DH: Certainly not, Sam. Do you have “fun” reading Mr. Snicket’s work? If so, I blame your mother, and whatever blogs she might read.
Seeking More Info?
- Lemony Snicket: http://www.lemonysnicket.com.
- Texas Book Festival: http://www.texasbookfestival.org.
- Also, be sure to check out LiveMom’s roundup of Children’s Programming at this year’s event.
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.livemom.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/HeidiO.jpeg[/author_image] [author_info]Freelance web producer and contributing writer on Free Fun In Austin, Heidi Okla is mom to three boys (ages 4, 5, and 7), and can’t pass up any opportunity for fun family adventures. Browse her literacy-focused kids activities on her blog, Read ‘Em and Leap (http://www.reademandleap.com/)[/author_info] [/author]