We have some bad news: It’s been nearly 17 years since the first A Series of Unfortunate Events book was published. In that nearly two-decade span, the 13-book series has sold more than 60 million copies, been translated into 41 languages and picked up by Netflix for a brand-new series.
The man behind it all is Lemony Snicket, though these days you’re more likely to find him without his pen name. Author Daniel Handler, 45, has kept busy in the years since A Bad Beginning kicked off Unfortunate Events. He wrote a four-part prequel (the final installment published last September), is finishing a children’s book about a fishy phantom, Goldfish Ghost, and somehow still finds time for travel.
Amid all these projects, Handler agreed to join ParentMap on quick trip down memory lane.
The first book in A Series of Unfortunate Events came out in 1999, which means many of your original young adult fans have since grown-up. How has your relationship with them changed, if at all?
The first Snicket readers come to me now with tattoos, careers and young readers of their own, carrying on a rather dismal tradition. What is most startling is that I have not aged at all.
What’s your teenage son, Otto, like to read? Unfortunate Events, perhaps?
My son, then and now, has had vastly different reading tastes from my own, both now and when I was his age. He is like a person in this way. He has been an avid reader of All The Wrong Questions but is wary, sensibly, of Unfortunate Events, preferring to take comfort in — I’m not making this up — the history of World War One.
Where do you think Unfortunate Events main characters Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire are now?
Like so many characters I knew in 1999, I do not know where they are, but I hope they are safe and even happy.
Much of your work has involved death and darkness, themes not commonly associated with children's literature. What’s your response to parents’ concerns?
I share all concerns about how much darkness there is in real life. There is far too much. It is awful. I myself take comfort in literature, but I understand that some adults prefer to indulge in hysteria over a turn of phrase or a certain storyline in some book on some shelf. Everyone needs a hobby.
Tell me about Goldfish Ghost. What should fans expect from this next project, due out spring 2017? Do you have any other projects in the works?
Goldfish Ghost is a picture book telling the story of the ghost of a goldfish, who wanders lonely and upside down looking for company. There are a couple of other picture books in the works as well, and a YA novel that contains a great deal of sex and is thus making my publisher very nervous.
OK, final question: Anything you’d like to discuss about your upcoming Hugo House talk?
I would encourage open betting on the number of unsatisfying digressions I will take during my talk.