Just as the #MeToo movement’s fire has sparked long overdue consequences and conversations in Hollywood and Washington, women who have been victimized by powerful men in other industries are coming forward to share their own stories. In the world of YA publishing, female authors are opening up about Daniel Handler, otherwise known as Lemony Snicket of A Series of Unfortunate Events fame. And while the women are saying Handler wasn’t overtly predatory in their interactions with him, his pattern of sexually-charged jokes and comments needs to be addressed and recognized as sexual harassment.
According to an article in Pacific Standard, several women who’ve encountered Handler at conferences and other book events have faced or witnessed sexually humiliating or explicit comments from the author. One author described an instance when Handler asked her if she was a virgin on a crowded train of colleagues and went on to joke, “These children’s book events always turn into orgies!” Another said Handler had made an inappropriate joke about her at an event and when a female teen called him out on it, he made an inappropriate joke about her as well. Others shared similar stories.
Accusations of sexual harassment and abuse throughout the publishing industry have been surfacing in recent months.
Accusations of inappropriate behavior surfaced against 13 Reasons Why author Jay Asher, though a spokesperson later refuted the claims. In the case of Lemony Snicket, the claims picked up speed in the comments section of a pledge author Gwenda Bond put together for people in publishing to sign saying they won’t attend industry conferences that don’t enforce anti-harassment policies.
Handler responded to his colleagues accusations in the thread, writing, in part:
Handler went on to apologize for “any lapses in taste” and said he encourages any women who want to talk about their experiences to contact him via email. Bond replied to Handler’s comments thanking him, and added,”I hope you’re listening.” For the first time, many are listening. And because of that, these important conversations and the changes they’re bringing about will continue.