Who is Lemony Snicket? Few have ever seen his face, and he only answers questions through his representative, fellow author Daniel Handler. But with his new series All The Wrong Questions, Snicketis finally lifting the veil of secrecy. The first book, Who Could That Be at This Hour?, provides a thrilling account of his childhood apprenticeship as a detective. Recently, Zola asked him a few questions via e-mail (and Mr. Handler).
Zola: S. Theodora Markson, Moxie Mallahan, Prosper Lost, and Ellington Feint are just a few of the people we encounter in Who Could It Be At This Hour? Have you ever met anyone with a dull name?
Lemony Snicket: Occasionally one must change a name to protect the innocent, but there’s no reason one must change it to something unremarkable.
Zola: Moxie, who’s an aspiring reporter, writes using a typewriter. How do you write—longhand, typewriter, or computer?
LS: I have used all such methods, depending on how hard I am trembling.
Zola: Another technology question: What do you think of eBooks? Do you own an eReader?
LS: For the most part I am immune to the charms of Irvine Welsh, and have not read much further in the literary works influenced by ecstasy or any other rave-related drug.
Zola: While Who Could That Be At This Hour? is available as an eBook, the printed version is a beautiful object, featuring marvelous artwork by the artist Seth. How much input did you have on the artwork?
LS: Seth’s work is entirely his own. The emotional strain he’s been through as a result of reading my work seems like influence enough.
Zola: Do you read your reviews?
LS: If I stumble across them. I’m quite clumsy.
Zola: One review of Who Could That Be at This Hour? describes the A Series of Unfortunate Events books as “a pessimist’s response to Harry Potter.” Have you read any of the Harry Potter books? If so, what do you think?
LS: The idea that the world is kept from being engulfed in the shadowy ministrations of alarming evil sorcerers only by a small group of privately-educated youngsters seems sufficiently pessimistic not to prompt a response.
Zola: You reference several young adult books in Who Could That Be at This Hour?, including Johnny Tremain, The Wind in the Willows, and The Lord of the Rings. What’s your favorite young adult book?
LS: The Bears’ Famous Invasion of Sicily by Dino Buzzati, although at times Zilpha Keatley Snyder’s The Headless Cupid comes close.
Zola: Other reviews of Who Could That Be at This Hour? compare it to the crime fiction of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. Are you a fan of their work and of crime fiction in general?
LS: Raymond Chandler is one of the greatest writers the English language has produced. Even if one is unnerved by the slightest mention of criminal activity, one must read him.
Zola: Who Could That Be at This Hour? features a nasty bully named Stew Mitchum. What advice do you have for kids who suffer from bullying?
LS: “Write down everything that happens.”
Zola: This is the first of four books in the All The Wrong Questions series. When will the second book be out?
LS: Next year, assuming nothing terrible happens to me or my publisher.
Zola: Finally, you once stated in an interview that you drank a good deal of brandy while writing about the Baudelaire orphans. What if anything did you drink while writing this book?
LS: The peatier whiskeys remind me of the lonely salt air of Stain’d-by-the-Sea, where the series takes place.
This article was updated on September 29, 2014
This article originally appeared on Zola Books.