His novels are The Basic Eight and Watch Your Mouth; they are comedies with a Gothic mood and rather adult subject matter. His screenplays were produced as the 2003 films Rick (based on the Verdi opera Rigoletto) and Kill the Poor (based on the novel by Joel Rose). His accordion playing can be heard most notably on The Magnetic Fields' album, 69 Love Songs. He lives in a 1907 Victorian house on a steep hill in San Francisco, California. He is married to Lisa Brown, a graphic artist he met at university.
Under the pen name Lemony Snicket, Handler has written a series of children's novels, A Series of Unfortunate Events. Handler has also developed Snicket the narrator as a character, referring to him in the third person, ascribing character traits to him, and even writing a book entitled Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography. (The U.S. hardcover edition of this book has a reversible dust jacket so that it can be "disguised" as The Luckiest Kids in the World Book 1!: The Pony Party by "Loney M. Setnick," which is an anagram of "Lemony Snicket.")
The first non-Unfortunate-Events-related work by Lemony Snicket was the opening story of It Was a Dark and Silly Night, a volume of Art Spiegelman and Françoise Mouly's Little Lit series. The story begings "In this case, SILLY stands for Slightly Intelligent, Largely Laconic Yeti..." The second was a short story published in the USA Weekend magazine (a US newspaper supplement), dated December 10–12, 2004. This was a holiday story entitled "The Lump of Coal," and included two full-color illustrations by Brett Helquist (who has also illustrated all of the books in the Series of Unfortunate Events to date).
Handler originally came up with "Lemony Snicket" as a pseudonym to use rather than placing his real name on the mailing lists of several right-wing organizations he was researching for one of his novels. It became something of an in-joke with his friends, who were known to order pizzas under the name. When he found himself writing a series of children's books, he decided to use the Snicket name to add an air of mystery to proceedings; Lemony Snicket is an elusive figure. Handler has a considerable amount of fun with the Snicket character in the author biography sections of the books, in a page at the end of every book where Snicket makes complicated arrangements for the delivery of the manuscript of the next book to his publisher, on the Lemony Snicket website and in Snicket's Unauthorized Autobiography. He is described, among other things, as having been born beside the sea and now living underneath it, as a distinguished scholar, and as having been stripped of the Honorable Mention and the Grey Ribbon. Photographs of Snicket are shown, but are always taken from behind, except that in The Unauthorized Autobiography there is a photograph of the crew of a ship (whose names all seem to be those of famous authors), with a caption indicating that Snicket is in the photo, but the face of the sailor said to be Snicket has been mysteriously torn from the photograph.
Additionally, about once per book, Snicket provides the reader with a glimpse of his life. We know that he...
- plays the accordion
- has been chased by an angry mob for 16 miles
- attended a costume ball dressed as a bullfighter, to gain access to his beloved Beatrice, who was dressed as a dragonfly
- once had a sword-fight with a television repairman
- once had a curse put on him by a fortune-teller after he accidentally broke her crystal ball after being tripped by a policeman
- learned how to make a salad from his sister
- has a brother, Jacques, and a sister, Kit.
He sometimes claims to be writing the book in various perilous situations, such as an Italian restaurant which is slowly filling with water. Also, in the Series of Unfortunate Events books Mr. Handler puts himself into the story as a member of the mysterious V.F.D.
To fill time at the end of the first audio book, read by Tim Curry, there is an interview which is supposed to be with "Mr. Snicket" but apparently he is not home, and the interview proceeds with "Mr. Handler," who confuses himself with his "employer" throughout the interview. To avoid answering any tough questions, Handler invokes a psychological device by which the response to a query can be so horrible that it seems to the listener as if it was not given at all.
Currently there are 11 published books in the A Series of Unfortunate Events series, along with the "autobiography." The first three books are the basis of the 2004 film Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events.
A commentary track entitled "Brad Silberling and the real Lemony Snicket Commentary" was recorded for the DVD released on 26 April 2005. Brad Silberling is the movie's director, and the "real Lemony Snicket" joke is a jibe aimed at Jude Law, considered the "Imposter Lemony Snicket."
- The Official Lemony Snicket website
- Lemony Snicket bibliography Fully illustrated
- Daniel Handler at the Internet Movie Database
- Fortunate Events: Winds, vertiginous views and snakes converge in Lemony Snicket's neck of the woods San Francisco Chronicle (May 18, 2003)
- Fresh Air interview – Audio interview from Fresh Air broadcast December 10, 2001.