Lemony Snicket Befuddled at Success

Posted on December 20, 2004

His books are international bestsellers. The film of the first three books in the "A Series of Unfortunate Events" topped the box office, raking in a cool $30.2 million inthe first weekend. But Lemony Snicket (the pseudonym of novelist Daniel Handler) appears shocked by all the success. "I am existing in a continuing state of befuddlement that anyone would be interested in these kinds of stories. I was completely amazed that a publisher was interested ... So I just thought the film company had lost its mind," he said.

Handler, who keeps up the fiction that Lemony Snicket is a real person even at booksignings where he appears in Snicket's stead, said "I just told children I was there instead of Lemony Snicket." "Children are lied to by adults almost constantly, so I don't think it was an unusual experience for them." One of the funniest part of the books is the constant warnings by the narrator to stop reading because the tale is just too tragic. Handler says the warnings came about when his publisher wanted him to write some enthusiastic marketing text for the back of the first book, A Bad Beginning.

"I couldn't think what to write - like 'You'll love this! The parents die!'," he said. On the way back from the drugstore to pick up a prescription, he decided to put a a drug store-style warning label on the book. "I wrote that most people wouldn't be interested. That was really what I thought. Now it seems like a clever marketing campaign, but I just thought there is no way." Handler has announced that the series will end with Book 13 -- an unlucky number "for some". Book 12, which is as yet untitled, is due out in late 2005, which will be a fortunate event for readers.