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An interview with Lemony Snicket

By Todd Leopold
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(CNN) -- During a recent interview with, Daniel Handler was gracious enough to give up some of his time to Lemony Snicket, the shadowy author of the "A Series of Unfortunate Events" books. Here is an edited transcript of that conversation:

CNN: Mr. Snicket, how have you kept track of all these adventures of the Baudelaire orphans? They're packed with so much detail. How did you maintain memory of all these stories for so many years?

LEMONY SNICKET: Oh, I can't rely on my own memory. I have a large stack of notebooks and heaps and heaps of research that I try to do as carefully as I can. I wouldn't rely on anything as shaky as my own memory, given to the brandy I apply to it whenever I'm [recalling] the Baudelaires' position.

I'm allowed to say "brandy" on CNN, aren't I?

CNN: Absolutely. You can say something stronger if you like.

SNICKET: One never knows. The media is constantly being clamped down upon. I wanted to make sure that "brandy" was still an OK thing to say.

CNN: Were you aware, in "The Beatrice Letters," that your correspondence was gong to be coming out at this inopportune time?

SNICKET: No, not at all. I simply sent the letters to HarperCollins, where I assumed they would keep them in some kind of underground safe. To my alarm, they made a great many copies that they're distributing to the general public -- allegedly to keep the correspondence safe from harm. But I can't help but think -- and this is quite an accusation to make at HarperCollins -- that they may have some kind of profit-making motive. I would think CNN would want to investigate that.

CNN: I'll have to assign someone to look into that.

SNICKET: That a company owned by Rupert Murdoch would want to make money. Lord knows I don't like to level such accusations frivolously, but that's a suspicion that I'm having.

CNN: The thing about the letters is that they're full of longing and mystery. But the telegram at the end ... came rather abruptly ... and there's that cutoff, large stamped "A."


CNN: I'm left with a feeling of dread.

SNICKET: Well, I think that's only proper.

CNN: OK. So that was the intent, then.

SNICKET: You don't think it went on to say, "A lollipop," did you? Personally, I actually think that that one letter is too much to reveal of the message, so depressing is it.

CNN: The correspondence in the book is of an elegance that you often don't find in correspondence nowadays.

SNICKET: Yes, that's true. I pity our government officials who are clearly eavesdropping on all our e-mails for the inelegance to which they're exposed day after day. That may result in their own inelegance come to think of it.

CNN: CNN might have to look into that as well.

SNICKET: Yes, if I were CNN I may put someone on the American government beat. Because it does quite a lot. I might even put two reporters on it.

CNN: Did you have to get yourself into a mindset to write the books?

SNICKET: Not in the ways you might think. I don't wear spooky outfits or light a candle or anything. I often played some gloomy Russian classical music if that counts.

CNN: Scriabinexternal link, perhaps?

SNICKET: Scriabin -- and the Shostakovich String Quartet. You can't listen to too many Shostakovich String Quartets in a row though, otherwise you might be irreparably Russian.


The mysterious and reclusive Lemony Snicket agreed to answer questions for CNN.



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