Share This Page

'Snicket' author to tell the truth(ish) during visit

| Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013, 8:55 p.m.
Lemony Snicket in 'When Did You See Her Last'
Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures
Daniel Handler, official representative of detective Lemony Snicket

With his author's imagination and his satirical style, Daniel Handler says he finds Pittsburgh to be a gloomy town, and he fears an encounter with a monster crawling out of a river.

“I hope I will not be attacked by one of my fair creations while visiting your fair city,” deadpans Handler, whose latest book, “When Did You See Her Last?”, came out Oct. 15.

So long as that doesn't happen, Handler of San Francisco will be visiting the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh on Oct. 25 to give a presentation, “Why Does Lemony Snicket Keep Following Me?” His visit is part of the Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures' PA&L Kids and Teens series. Handler is touring the country, although the Pittsburgh event will be different, the author says. His other visits are mostly at schools, where he is speaking in fictional tones to the kids about the Snicket character.

“I'm lying to them and telling them that Lemony Snicket can't be there, and I'll be there instead,” he says. “The Pittsburgh event is somewhat more unusual. ... We'll be talking about my own life. ... I'll be telling what I can call, for the sake of argument, the truth ... about how I came to write Lemony Snicket.”

Why so facetious? Well, there are two Lemony Snickets. One is reality-based, and sort of functions as Handler's pen name; the books are published under the narrator's name. The other is a fictional character in the stories. Snicket never appears in public: His creator does all of his bidding. And Handler will talk about how Snicket stole his ideas, blocked his spotlight, bought him a house and ruined his fantasy of a simple life.

In his sarcastic style, Handler describes what did inspire him to write the original Lemony Snicket “A Series of Unfortunate Events” series, which began in 1999 with “The Bad Beginning” and ended with the 13th book, “The End,” in 2006.

“I just thought it was inherently interesting,” Handler says about the Snicket series. “I just thought it would be interesting to write about terrible things happening over and over again. That just seemed charming.”

The series inspired the major motion picture, “Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events,” in 2004. Then, Handler launched the prequel series — “All the Wrong Questions,” which details Snicket's life as a young teen around 13 years old — in October 2012 with “Who Could That Be at This Hour?”

The second book in the four-part “All the Wrong Questions” series, “When Did You See Her Last?”, tells the story of Snicket as an apprentice in a secret organization. He investigates the kidnapping of a young woman — and, as usual, the case turns out to be much more complicated than Snicket thought.

Handler has written many other books outside of the Snickets, including the Pittsburgh-based “Watch Your Mouth: A Novel,” “The Basic Eight” and “Adverbs.” He plans on two more books in this new Snicket series, so long as nothing terrible happens to the author.

Handler was surprised and delighted by how popular the Snicket books became.

“I continue to be amazed by it,” he says. “I can't believe that so many people are interested in terrible things happening to children over and over again.”

Kellie B. Gormly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at kgormly@tribweb.com or 412-320-7824.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.