Daniel Handler Author Biography

Who is Daniel Handler?

Daniel Handler is the author of the bestselling A Series of Unfortunate Events (under the pen name of Lemony Snicket), a collection of books for children, and three books for adults: Basic Eight (based on a true story of a teenaged girl who commits murder), Watch Your Mouth (a melodramatic satire of family life), and Adverbs, due out this year.

He also wrote the screenplay for the films A Series of Unfortunate Events, Kill the Poor, and Rick.

When was Daniel Handler born? 

Daniel Handler was born in 1970 and raised in San Francisco, where he lives now. He attended Lowell High School and then graduated from Wesleyan University in 1992.

His Mom, Sandra Handler Day, was an opera singer and Daniel himself also sang opera in the 80’s with the San Francisco Boys Chorus. His Dad, Lou Handler, was a CPA.

His parents actually met at the Opera. Handler says, “My mother was playing Aida, and she remains to this day the hippest white woman in San Francisco.” She must be pretty hip since Sept. 5, 2003, Sandra Handler’s birthday, was designated a holidy by San Franciso Mayor Willie Brown, honoring her years of service as dean of social and behavioral sciences at City College of San Francisco.

Handler also loves opera sang with the San Francisco Boys Chorus in the early ’80s in productions of “La Boheme,” “Carmen,” “Tosca” and others.

“My parents always joked that they considered castration to elongate my career,” he said. “It’s always been the narrative of opera that has intrigued me, and my second adult novel, ‘Watch Your Mouth,’ is structured as an opera.”

Childhood of Daniel Handler 

As a young child, Daniel was acutely aware of the fact that terrible things sometimes happen to children. His father fled Germany in childhood, and Daniel grew up knowing about the frightening events of the Holocaust at a very tender age.

No doubt that influenced his world view and his later writing. 
He has been quoted as saying “I was the sort of kid that was funny enough that I wouldn’t get beat up.”

Handler’s favorite book as a child was ‘The Bears’ Famous Invasion of Sicily’ by Italian author Dino Buzzati. He influenced his publisher to bring the long out of print book back into print.

Daniel Handler today 

Daniel Handler is married to Lisa Brown and they have one child, born in 2003. He lives in a Victorian style house on a hill in San Francisco, after living briefly in New York.

I wonder if little Handler will grow up to love his Father’s books?

Handler has also published novels using his real name for older teens and adults, including The Basic Eight (based on a true story about a high schooler who commits murder), Watch Your Mouth, a melodramatic satire of family life) and Adverbs, which will be appearing sometime in 2005.

Daniel Handler also enjoys playing the accordion. He has been quoted as saying that he learned it “to drive his parents crazy”.

Why did Daniel Handler decide to start writing children’s books?

Susan Rich, an editor at Harper Collins, came up with the idea. Handler has been quoted as saying “… and my reaction was that I couldn’t write for children because children’s books are such crap. She pointed out that if a lot of my writing for adults was fueled by rage at what was going on in adult fiction, it might actually work the same way with children’s books. And it has.”

How Did Daniel Handler Come Up with the name Lemony Snicket?

The pseudonym came as a result of research Handler had to do for The Basic Eight. He used it to contact right-wing organizations to get pamphlets and learn their dogma. One day on the phone, one of the agents asked Handler for a name to send documents to. He quickly blurted out: “Lemony Snicket”.

The fact that the name rhymes with “Jiminy Cricket” is likely a Freudian slip, since Handler has stated that Jiminy is “exactly the kind of overly moralistic, cheerful narrator who I despise”.

“It became a running joke with me and my friends; they gave me Lemony Snicket business cards one year, we invented a drink called the Lemony Snicket… And when I started writing the children’s books, and the character of the narrator emerged and my editor and I decided I needed a pseudonym, well, I’d had a pseudonym all along. And now I’m on the New York Times bestseller lists for a book by Lemony Snicket.”

Daniel Handler Misc

Daniel Handler evidently is adamantly opposed to censorship. Read the letter he wrote to this blogger.

Daniel Handler’s accordion playing is featured on The Magnetic Field’s (the band of Stephen Merritt, who wrote the Count Olaf song) album “69 Love Songs”.

Daniel Handler on Children

“There’ve been some people who read The Basic Eight over and over, and they’re actually pretty spooky. But if a nine-year-old is reading your books over and over, and wants to talk about them with you, it’s actually charming. At that age, you’re loving books like you’ll never love them again. The books you loved when you were in fourth grade and read them to tatters, you’ll never love another book like that. And it’s moving to think that my books are doing that for some kids, and that I’m affecting literature without, you know, collecting weirdos.”

> Read the Lemony Snicket Biography here.

> Daniel Handler’s Commonwealth Club Interview

Click Here to see Daniel Handler’s books at Amazon.com

— > Check the Lemony Snicket Unhappy Updates Blog for new Daniel Handler interviews, book signings and appearances.