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Last Updated: Friday June 02 2006 08:43 GMT

Authors on the spot: Lemony Snicket

Author Lemony Snicket tries to hide his face
Lemony Snicket is the mysterious man behind the books that document the adventures of the Baudelaire orphans.

Their Series of Unfortunate Events have excited kids all around the world, and the first three have been made into a film too.

What was your favourite book when you were a child?

My absolute favourite book was called The Bears' Famous Invasion of Sicily, by Dino Buzzati, which I imagine is impossible to find in Great Britain.

It is about a group of bears who invade Sicily, both for personal and political reasons, and the treachery and conflict that follow.

There's a giant sea serpent in it, which in my opinion, automatically makes a book more interesting.

If they had just added a sea serpent to some of the more tedious books for children they would all be a lot more interesting. If a sea serpent menaced The Railway Children for instance...

How old were you when you started writing?

When I was very young. As soon as I could write I really wanted to be a writer.

I can scarcely remember a time when I wasn't writing stories.

Any tips for kids who want to get started as an aspiring author?

Eavesdrop, constantly. And carry a notebook with you at all times, so that you write down what you hear when you're eavesdropping.

And prepare an excuse, ahead of time, so that when you get caught you have the excuse ready and you don't have to stammer for a moment while you think of one.

I was in a gated community in California - which are residential communities where you're not supposed to go unless you live there - and I was taking pictures there as research for a book.

I was caught, but I had prepared my excuse, which was that I was working for a movie company and scouting locations.

I explained that I didn't want to tell the security people what to do, but if this neighbourhood was chosen then each homeowner would receive an amount in excess of $100,000.

What makes books so special?

I like the idea that it's a completely portable experience.

And also, as a child, you're encouraged to read so much that reading is sort of its own camouflage.

You can read about any amount of wickedness or unusual activities that interest you, and you'll never get in trouble for it - because you're reading.

You get to stay up later too.

If you say you want to stay up until the end of a movie they're never going to let you do that, but if you say "I just want to finish this chapter" it's okay.

Little do they know you're reading about a troll hacking off someone's head.

How do you get your inspiration for your writing?

From eavesdropping and from reading other books.

Writers are, pretty much thieves, stealing ideas from other people who didn't have the foresight to write them down, and then from the people who did have the foresight to write them down.

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