"It is one of life’s bitterest truths that bedtime so often arrives just when things are really getting interesting.” If you can identify that quote as belonging to the mysterious Lemony Snicket, author of the perplexing but bestselling series, A Series of Unfortunate Events (HarperCollins), then we have a surprise for you. The elusive author is appearing in person here at BookCon—today! He has a new children’s picture book coming out, The Bad Mood and the Stick (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, Oct.), illus. by Matthew Forsythe, and those unlucky Baudelaire orphans, the stars of the Unfortunate series, must relive their tragic lives again in the new Netflix series based upon the Unfortunate Events series. BookCon spoke with the mysterious wordsmith.
You rarely appear in public. To what do we owe the pleasure of your appearance here today?
An opportunity to stroll around the Javits Center is a temptation not even the hardiest hermit can withstand.
What will you be doing at BookCon?
Sidling up to the independent presses, where the future of art and literature is always lurking. The revolution begins with Wave Books [an independent poetry press in Seattle], et al.
This Daniel Handler fellow is still your spokesman. Conspiracy theorists think that you and he might be the same. What do you say to them?
“Hello, conspiracy theorists. I was wondering—egad! Look behind you!”
What would one of your delightful fans be surprised to know about you?
That I occasionally enjoy radish greens on salted toast? That I once challenged Pam Munoz Ryan to a duel? Who can say what surprises someone, particularly someone “delightful”?
What books did you read as a child?
Let us light a candle here in a remote corner of BookCon for the recently departed author Zilpha Keatley Snyder [author of the Newbery Award–winning The Egypt Game, The Headless Cupid, and The Witches of Worm], a childhood obsession and lifelong inspiration.
How do you feel about the Netflix series based on A Series of Unfortunate Events?
Only a company that regards “binge” as a positive term would regard orphan tragedies as “entertainment.”
How involved are you?
I once loved a woman, now deceased, who haunts me to this day. I believe social media would label this “perhaps too involved.”
How do the Beaudelaire orphans feel about having to relive their traumas?
I have not heard from them. I assume they are someplace weeping with Piper Kerman, author of Orange Is the New Black.
What inspired you to write The Bad Mood and The Stick?
As a frequent traveler, I was interested in the journeys of emotions and objects.
What do you hope readers will get from it?
The sneaking suspicion that we are all in life together.
What do you do when you’re in a bad mood?
I make a pot of tea while listening to scowly music, and then go out for a walk.
If a Snicketer recognizes you in the street, should they greet you, give a secret sign, or just pretend they don’t know you for their own protection?
We recognize one another by the quality of the reading material we have with us.
What is the sign?
Brandishing a volume of the new Morgan Parker collection, or Matthew Rohrer’s new verse novel, or Yiyun Li’s memoirs lets me know I am in the company of a companion.
Will you give them an important assignment?
Associating oneself with literature is the most important assignment there is.
Today, 12:45–1:45 p.m. Lemony Snicket skulks at the “Kids Books Blockbusters” panel on the Main Stage.
Today, 2–3 p.m. Lemony Snicket signs in the Autographing Area.