Master of wit and noir author Daniel Handler pitched the story idea for his now-classic “Series of Unfortunate Events” series in a bar, for a reason.
According to Handler, he figured that the idea of “terrible things happening to orphans over and over again," would not go over well with the editor, and he might as well be in an establishment that served alcoholic beverages after she said no.
To his surprise, she loved the idea and the story evolved into what is now the popular thirteen part chronicle of the three Baudelaire children and their attempts to escape from their evil guardian Count Olaf and his minions, who wish to steal the orphan’s inheritance.
But who is Lemony Snicket? Pictured at the back cover of the novel is a black and white photo of man in a fedora facing away from the camera.
“He is a mysterious and shadowy figure who narrates the series of books for which I am at least partially responsible for. Snicket is a lonely man and I shadowed him in mystery because I thought that would be more interesting.” says Handler.
The inspiration for the photos of Snicket in the book is a collaboration of him and a photographer friend. Handler donned a jacket and a fedora and the two shot the photos outside in the snow. They then returned to the warmth to drink bourbon old fashioneds and wait for the photos to develop into the shadowy images of the “author” that we see in the back cover of the books today.
Handler’s writing was heavily influenced by writers such as Edward Gorey and Raymond Chandler. After finishing several of the Unfortunate Events books, Handler sent copies along with a letter of admiration to the author and ironically found out a few weeks later that he had died. Handler likes to imagine that Gorey, in a rage at realizing how much he had ripped off from him, died on the way to the phone, threatening to sue.
Daniel Handler will speak today at 7pm at the Carnegie Library Lecture Hall as part of the Pittsburgh Arts and Lectures for Kids and Teens series. More information and tickets are available at the Pittsburgh Arts and Lectures website.