Daniel Handler (a.k.a Lemony Snicket) explains why he’s less involved with ‘Unfortunate Events’ on Netflix
He’s known primarily by his pen name, Lemony Snicket, but “A Series of Unfortunate Events” author Daniel Handler has kept plenty busy in the decade since the 13-volume gothic comedy drew to a close.
In advance of his Saturday appearance at the Boston Book Festival, Handler spoke with us about his new children’s book, “The Bad Mood and the Stick,” which he also wrote as Snicket; what fans can expect at the festival; and why he’s less involved with Netflix’s adaptation of “Unfortunate Events.”
Q. Are there any other authors you’d like to catch at the festival?
A. I am actually madly e-mailing these days to try to have coffee with a few writers who I know personally. It doesn’t look like my schedule allows me to see anyone else reading, which is something of a disappointment. There are a few social gatherings at which at least we can kind of relax and talk shop.
Q. Will you be reading from “The Bad Mood and the Stick” at the festival?
A. I will be reading and discussing the bewildering unpredictability of the world, which is one of the themes of “The Bad Mood and the Stick.” I’ve been to the Boston Book Festival a few times now and I do enjoy it, because many people who read “A Series of Unfortunate Events” when they were young are now attending various universities, so there’s an interesting mix in the crowd which I enjoy.
Q. What put you in a bad mood when you were a kid?
A. I would say the kind of everyday injustice of school life or not being believed was what would often put me in a foul mood. Actually, I was just talking to my sister last night and she was reminding me that I would come stomping home from various school days saying, “I saw this thing and I reported it, and no one believed me.” So that always put me in a foul mood.
Q. Sort of like the child equivalent of “North by Northwest”?
A. It was like an Alfred Hitchcock movie with way, way lower stakes. It was like the first draft of an Alfred Hitchcock movie before the studio said, “Maybe you should put a murder in it.”
Q. How have you enjoyed working on the “A Series of Unfortunate Events” TV series? Are you satisfied with how the show is going so far?
A. I’m always more interested in seeing what other people think. Right now, I’m kind of impatient because they’re finishing filming season two and they’re beginning to film season three, and I’m very eager to see some further edited drafts of the episodes, and I’m really curious to see what people think of them.
Q. How do you think the new seasons will be different from the first season?
A. It’s really hard to tell. I was very involved toward the end of the first season and the beginning of the second season and then less so now. That’s another thing: I was closer to the process as we were finishing the first season then I am now, and I’m curious to see how that goes.
Q. Why are you less involved with the show now?
A. I’m less involved because they asked me to be less involved (laughs).
Q. Was that amicable?
A. It wasn’t my idea (laughs). It’s amicable in that I don’t think anyone stayed up all night crying about it or sharpened their dagger and swore revenge. I was on a plane flying home from Vancouver, where I did a read-through of the scripts and kind of all the stuff we do early on in the season, and when I landed there was an e-mail saying, “We’d rather not have you involved at this point.” So that was surprising.
Q. Why do you think “A Series of Unfortunate Events” remains so popular after all these years?
A. Oh gosh, I don’t know. I never thought anything I’d do would be popular. For years, people would say, “Why do you think these books have done well” and I would say, “I don’t know,” and finally someone said, “You have to stop saying you don’t know,” so I made up this answer that I would just say all the time. Then I heard an interview with a Fox News personality, and they explained their popularity basically with the same excuse, and I thought, “well, obviously that person’s speaking nonsense, so I can’t speak that nonsense anymore.” So I’m back to the honest answer, which is I have no idea.