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Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Write Stuff: Daniel Handler and Lisa Brown on the 29 Myths on the Swinster Pharmacy

Posted By on Thu, Mar 13, 2014 at 7:45 AM

The Write Stuff is a series of interview profiles conducted by Litseen, where authors give exclusive readings from their work.

click to enlarge MEREDITH HEUER
  • Meredith Heuer

Lemony Snicket (A.K.A. Daniel Handler) had an unusual education and a perplexing youth and now endures a despondent adulthood. His previous accounts and research have been collected and published as books, including those in A Series of Unfortunate Events, 13 Words, and The Composer Is Dead. "Who Could That Be at This Hour?" is the first title in his new, four-volume series, All the Wrong Questions.

click to enlarge lisabrown.jpg

Lisa Brown is the bestselling author and/or illustrator of a growing number of books for children, teens and new parents, including How to Be, The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming, and Baby Mix Me a Drink. Her 3 Panel Book Review cartoon ran in the book section of the San Francisco Chronicle. Lisa lives in San Francisco, California with her son and her husband, who is rumored to be Lemony Snicket.

What's your biggest struggle -- work or otherwise?

LB: Getting up in the morning.

DH: Getting my wife out of bed before 9.

If someone said I want to do what you do, what advice would you have for them?

DH: Get back to work, you.

Do you consider yourself successful? Why?

LB: Yes. Because I get to do what I've wanted to do since I was 5 years old, no joke. Because I'd rather be working than doing most anything else. Almost.

When you're sad/grumpy/pissed off, what YouTube video makes you feel better?

LB: Whenever I'm having a bad day, my husband sends me YouTube clips of people falling down. This one is the best -- it's a high school production of "The Miracle Worker" and the girl playing Helen Keller falls off the stage. Don't judge me.

Do you have a favorite ancestor? What is his/her story?

LB: My great grandfather's cousin was a Coney Island carousel carver. Marcus Illions. Look him up. Wowie zowie.

Who did you admire when you were 10 years old? What did you want to be?

LB: Maurice Sendak. A picture book writer and illustrator. See, I told you.

Describe your week in the wilderness. It doesn't have to be ideal.

LB: Cuts and scratches, forced to canoe down the rapids, many mosquito bites, getting my period, forced to spelunk, sneaking off into the woods to use contraband non-biodegradeable soap to wash my face, forced to repel down a cliff face, sharing a tent with total strangers, contracting Lyme Disease.

This was my college orientation in the wilderness. It was optional.

DH: A hotel with very weak coffee and room service that stops at 10 PM. And the next night, you discover with a shudder that they haven't restocked the minibar and SO YOU END UP DRINKING RUM.

Would you ever perform a striptease? Describe some of your moves. Feel free to set the mood.

DH: Three words: John Philip Sousa.

How much money do you have in your checking account?

DH: Too much.

What's wrong with society today?

DH: Too few people have too much money.

Are you using any medications? If so, which ones?

LB: Oh, heaps. But my favorite is bourbon.

What is art? Is it necessary? Why?

LB: Art is everything. What a question.

DH: Get back to work, you.

When you have sex, what are some of the things you like to do?

DH: Lisa Brown.

LB: I'm from New England, so it's none of your business.

What are you working on right now?

LB: A book about a mummified cat in an ancient Egyptian tomb who wanders around looking for his mummified mistress. It was gorgeously written by Marcus Ewert. I love it so much, even though it's in rhyme. I am not a fan of rhyme.

What kind of work would you like to do? Or: what kind of writing do you most admire?

LB: I want to finish my full length graphic novel about a circus sideshow.

I like books in which things happen.

If there were one thing about the Bay Area that you would change, what would it be?

LB: I miss autumn. I get horribly homesick every October.

DH: Make MUNI and BART play nice so you don't get off the Richmond Train at Embarcadero and go on up the escalator right on past the idling N Judah which by the time you go through two damn turnstiles will be long gone leaving you with a heavy and shabby Willy Loman sadness for the rest of the evening.

A night on the town: what does that mean to you?

LB: Getting tipsy and going to a bookstore.

DH: No, no. The bookstore first, darling. Then let's read at the bar until it's blurry.

What are some of your favorite smells?

LB: Night-blooming jasmine on the Ord steps on the way down to the Castro Theater.

Coffee.

If you got an all expenses paid life experience of your choice, what would it be?

DH: I did. I do. I am. This is.

For events in San Francisco this week and beyond, check out our calendar section. Follow us on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF and like us on Facebook. This interview was conducted by Evan Karp. Follow Litseen at @Litseen.

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Evan Karp

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