“A Series of Unfortunate Events” author Lemony Snicket has been accused by multiple authors of making inappropriate sexual jokes in professional settings, behavior for which he has now apologized.
The author, whose real name is Daniel Handler, was accused by female colleagues of making lewd comments at writer’s conferences and book events, including “crass and belittling” jokes and probing questions about their sexual histories, according to the Pacific Standard.
In one instance, Handler is accused of shouting “Are you a virgin, too?!” at children’s book author Kate Messner in front of a bus full of other authors. Librarian Allie Jane Bruce said Handler once made a joke about his testicles in front of a group of elementary school-aged kids. Angie Manfredi said within minutes of meeting her at a professional gathering, Handler encouraged her to “make out” with a random stranger.
The accounts came after Handler signed a pledge by YA author Gwenda Bond that said authors would not attend any book events without an anti-harassment plan. Once the stories came to light, Handler commented on the pledge with a statement admitting to “lapses in taste” and apologizing for the remarks.
“It has never been my wish to insult any of my professional colleagues. I sincerely, if tardily, apologize,” he wrote. “My whole life my sense of humor has not been for everyone, and my books continue to be regarded, by a segment of the population, as inappropriate. As someone who’s been a struggling author, I take seriously the responsibilities of my visibility, and have always thought that treating all of my colleagues the same was the best way to dispel the unease that can come from a competitive or self-conscious environment. As a survivor of sexual violence, I also know very well how words or behaviors that are harmless or even liberating to some people can be upsetting to others.”
The accusations against Handler come as the YA publishing industry is having its own #MeToo moment, with “Thirteen Reasons Why” author Jay Asher and “Maze Runner” author James Dashner both facing professional consequences for inappropriate behavior in recent weeks.
“I apologize for any gaps in conversation, as sincerely as I apologize for any lapses in taste,” Handler’s statement continued. “I believe the people who are talking. I am listening and willing to listen; I am learning and willing to learn.”