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Meet The Man Behind Lemony Snicket

Daniel Handler
Meredith Heuer

Go ahead; call David Handler’s work weird and bizarre. He’ll thank you.

Handler has written novels for adults as well as two series for children written under the pen name Lemony Snicket. His latest novel, “We Are Pirates,” is for adults, but it’s still quirky.

“It’s a book about some teenage girls and some residents of an assisted living center who team up to steal a boat and commit acts of piracy in the San Francisco Bay,” Handler told “Cityscape” guest host Jim Kirchherr on Friday. “It’s a book to me that is about displacement and wanting to escape from the confines of your own life and do something wild and lawless, and how that often ends up a little more trouble than you thought at first.”

Handler’s first novel, “The Basic Eight,” straddled the line of “for kids” and “for adults,” he said. As he tried to find a publisher, editors recommended he write for a younger audience.  

“I thought it was a terrible idea that I write for children, because I saw myself as a kind of dark and esoteric writer,” Handler said. “I never thought I would get much of an audience. Although I could imagine myself writing something that children would like, I never thought it would be accepted by the rather conservative guardians of children’s culture. But strangely, that is not what happened. For the vastly most part, librarians and educators and booksellers and parents and then the children they were supposedly guarding all had access to Lemony Snicket.”

Those first elementary-school Snicket fans are now in their 20s. Handler is now working on picture books and said he has started a new novel for adults.

As for bizarre plots and the life-and-death situations his characters often find themselves in, it’s all part of telling a good story, Handler said.

“I just think a story is most appealing when it has something interesting going on, and it’s hard to think of an interesting story that doesn’t have some kind of dire threat,” he said.

Related Event

"We Are Pirates" book-signing

  • When: 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 13, 2015
  • Where: St. Louis County Library Headquarters, 1640 S. Lindbergh Blvd., St. Louis
  • More information

“Cityscape” is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and sponsored in part by the Missouri Arts Council, the Regional Arts Commission, and the Arts and Education Council of Greater St. Louis.