Lemony Snicket Is Back!

Author Daniel Handler talks to TFK about the new Snicket-focused series

Nov 05, 2012 | By TFK Kid Reporter Phoebe Weintraub
ULF ANDERSEN—GETTY IMAGES

Some say the best way to learn a profession is to watch, listen and assist. That is exactly how the young Lemony Snicket starts his crime-fighting career in the new series All the Wrong Questions.

In the first of four books, Who Could That Be at This Hour?, an almost 13-year-old Snicket learns the tricks of the trade from a detective named S. Theodora Markson. They investigate the case of a missing statue, and it is this case that sparks Snicket's interest in solving mysteries. If you are a fan of A Series of Unfortunate Events, you will love getting to know the young Snicket and following his mysterious adventures.

Author Daniel Handler, who is known for his sense of humor, recently talked to TFK about the new series.

TFK:

What made you—or Lemony Snicket—decide to write this new series? 

DANIEL HANDLER:

Mr. Snicket thought it would be interesting to relate what happened to him in childhood because he has trouble stopping thinking about it, particularly late at night.

TFK:

Why is the series called All the Wrong Questions?  

HANDLER:

Each volume will have a question. Each of the questions turns out to be the wrong question Mr. Snicket asks. When you put them all together, you have all the wrong questions.


TFK Kid Reporter Phoebe Weintraub with author Daniel Handler in Pennsylvania.
COURTESY WEINTRAUB FAMILY
TFK Kid Reporter Phoebe Weintraub with author Daniel Handler.

TFK:

You used to tell readers to stay far away from the books in A Series of Unfortunate Events. Should they stay far away from the books in this new series as well?

HANDLER:

The new series contains a lot of upsetting questions and secrets. So, if questions and secrets tend to upset you, then yes, you should stay away from it.

TFK:

What will this new series reveal about Lemony Snicket that readers didn't already know?

HANDLER:

It depends [who] the reader is. Some readers know all about Lemony Snicket, and some readers don't know who Lemony Snicket is. How much do you know about Lemony Snicket? On a scale from 1—10, if 1 is "Who is Lemony Snicket?" and 10 is "I am Lemony Snicket," where would you put yourself? If you read the entire series, you will probably be an 8 ½ or 9 on that scale.

TFK:

Will you—or Snicket—ever write books about fortunate events? 

HANDLER:

Fortunate things happen in all of the books Mr. Snicket has written, but they tend to be outweighed by unfortunate things.

TFK:

Why do you use the name Lemony Snicket instead of your real name?  

HANDLER:

Is that what you think I do? Do you think I wrote all of these books and pretend that I am Lemony Snicket? You really have no proof that I'm anybody at all. I just walked into this Barnes and Noble warehouse and could have just come from a pet store down the street. The answer to your question is that Lemony Snicket wrote these books, and Lemony Snicket is the narrator and central character. How he got his name is probably how you got your name.

TFK:

Why did you make all of the adult characters in The Series of Unfortunate Events so mean or stupid? 

HANDLER:

I think that most of the adults that the Baudelaires encountered were either cruel or inept, which is basically the same thing as saying mean or stupid. But cruel always sounds more interesting to me than mean. Mean sounds something like "Oh, you stole my sock!" and cruel sounds like "You threw me down an elevator shaft!" Inept means you're not necessarily stupid. It just means you are not very good at what you are doing, and you probably should not be taking care of children.

TFK:

Do you think it is more interesting to have bad things happen in a story than good things?

HANDLER:

Yes. In life you would rather have a good thing happen, but in a book you would rather have a bad thing happen. Many books are written about other people's lives so other people have to suffer for you to be entertained. That's terrible!

TFK:

Did something bad or scary happen to you that inspired your stories? 

HANDLER:

You can't really grow up without bad or scary things happening to you.  I guess you couldn't write a book about a terrible thing without a terrible thing happening to you. I like that question.