Daniel Handler, aka Lemony Snicket, must be fond of the number 13. His darkly funny A Series of Unfortunate Events series spanned 13 books, and now his latest project, a picture book illustrated by Maira Kalman, is entitled 13 Words (HarperCollins, Oct.). Snicket and Kalman are signing broadsides of the book today, 2–3 p.m., at Table 16, at a ticketed autographing.
13 Words is an adventure inspired by 13 "essential" words including dog, panache, and haberdashery. "It begins as a primer, not unlike a Dick and Jane book," says the author, "then goes quite awry, digressive in the manner of Lemony Snicket and Maira Kalman."
Snicket already has a couple of picture books in his oeuvre, including The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming: A Christmas Story and The Composer Is Dead. Asked why he wanted to write another picture book at this juncture, he says, "I suppose it has something to do with the fact that I have a small child, and a wife who is a picture book author [Lisa Brown]. I grew jealous that my son appreciated her work, but is still immune to the charms of a bona fide novel."
Tops on his BEA to-do list is wandering around in search of swag. "Me and a few independent booksellers form a small, aggressive posse looking for freebies," he says. "I make sure my Lemony Snicket name tag is hidden so I can get as many galleys as possible."
When he's not gathering goodies, Snicket will actually have duties to keep him busy. He'll be promoting a work for adults called The Hour: A Cocktail Manifesto by Bernard DeVoto (Tin House, June), for which he's written an introduction. "There's going to be a cocktail gathering in Brooklyn, where I'll be signing," he says. "I know it's shocking to picture alcohol being served in the evenings at BEA, but we're going to break with tradition. The signing angle insures that it won't be a drunken party without capitalism—that would be socialism," he adds. "And people having a good time with no purpose? We don't do that in America."
The author has a few new projects lined up. "I enjoyed Maira Kalman so much that we'll be working together again, on a YA novel called Why We Broke Up," he says. "It's about a long letter from a girl to a boy about why they broke up." Scheduled by Little, Brown in 2011, that project is part of a larger deal that includes a new four-book series by Snicket due out in 2012.