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Lemony Snicket's profile in the USA and the UK continues to grow as his dastardly depressing tales of the woebegone Baudelaire orphans captivate audiences from primary school children to adults. Recently, Lemony was named as one of the 'In' crowd in Vanity Fair, and named Entertainment Weekly's 'It' person of the year. Be warned though, his books are not for the fainthearted - you will find no fairytale endings, in fact - very little happiness at all. Do you dare to proceed? Though extremely hard to track down, Dymocks' Todd Alexander recently cornered Lemony for about five minutes of his time.

Todd: Can you describe for me where you are right now?

Lemony: It is flat, damp, and even nastier than descriptions found in anatomical encyclopaedias.

Do you know what inspired your parents to name you Lemony?


Tell me a bit about your childhood. Was it a happy one or were you teased horribly as a child?

'Happy' is a relative term. There are species of insects which spend their entire lives in filthy underground caverns. Compared to those species of insects--and certain others--my childhood was 'happy' indeed.

You are coming to Australia in July. Or are you? You are gathering a reputation for having to dash off at the last minute on some important business. Can we expect to see the REAL Lemony?

You can hope to see the real Snicket, but hopes are often dashed.

Have you been to Australia before?

I have been to Australia before, but never voluntarily.

What are you expecting a voluntary visit to be like?

I am expecting it to be far more pleasant than my previous four and one-half visits.

Your books have been a phenomenal success, did that surprise you?

'Surprise' is not the right word--'horrify', perhaps.

Throughout your books you talk about Beatrice - a mysterious woman who seems to have broken your heart. What can you tell me about her?

I can tell you never to ask me about her again.

OK. Let's talk about your books for a while. How did the job of re-telling the Baudelaire children's story wind up in your lap?

It did not wind up in my lap. It wound up in certain newspapers, told with a measure of incorrectness that made my blood run cold. It was there and then--although, for security reasons, I cannot say exactly what I mean by 'there and then'--that I vowed to tell the true story of these three miserable youngsters.

Do you enjoy telling it? I mean, it's a pretty ghastly thing to have to research isn't it?

Of course I do not enjoy it. Neither do I enjoy going to the dentist, or listening to the music of Antonio Vivaldi, but there are some things one must do because of a sacred duty, rather than a personal preference.

The adults in these books are pure evil or just plain stupid. While kids can certainly relate to that, do you think the Baudelaires are just unlucky or are they merely seeing the world as it really is?

Being unlucky and seeing the world as it really is are not necessarily different things.

Which one of the orphans is your favourite?

It is a three-way tie between Violet Baudelaire, Klaus Baudelaire and Sunny Baudelaire.

Can you tell me anything about the seventh book in the series and when it will be released?

Only the good people in the Abduction and Recovery Department of HarperCollins publishers can say when the seventh volume, entitled The Vile Village, will be released.

For the record, The Vile Village will be in stores July. There are going to be 13 in total, is that right? And do you already know how it is going to end? I presume 'happily ever after' as all good children's novels do!

Presume away, you poor, oblivious journalist. The thirteenth volume has yet to be researched, although my preliminary work indicates that the word 'happy' once again can only be used as a relative term.

What does Lemony Snicket like doing apart from researching and narrating the Baudelaire tale?

I am currently trying to learn how to play the Theremin.

Who are some of your favourite authors?

Dino Buzzati, Vladimir Nabokov, Roald Dahl, Rola34nd Firbank, Virginia Woolf, Edward Gorey, Haruki Murkami, Paul Lafarge, Alice Munro, Louis Sachar, Adele Griffin, Daniel Handler and Lorrie Moore, among others.

So you’ve read Daniel Handler?

But of course. All well-read people have.

Any words of wisdom for young authors?

When listening at keyholes, never wear squeaky shoes.

Any words of wisdom for any young orphans out there?

Run for your lives.

Well Lemony, I do hope we get to see you in Australia. If you do happen to send an agent, make sure he learns a few good Aussie tunes for his accordion.

He is currently learning several tunes by the Go-Betweens, just in case.

Todd Alexander
Dymocks Category Manager
February, 2001.