'Lemony Snicket and Jon Klassen tackle one of our greatest fears'
(National Post—April 17, 2013)
The Dark is about a little boy, Laszlo, who is afraid of the dark. What were you two scared of as children? What are you afraid of now?
Lemony Snicket: As a child I was afraid of being kidnapped and of loud noises. Nothing has changed except the ways those two things can be combined.
Jon Klassen: I was afraid of snakes, and if anything I’m more afraid of snakes now because I have had more time to see snakes.
How did your own experiences with the dark shape or influence this book?
LS: In my experience, the dark is very dark, so when working on The Dark I suggested to Mr. Klassen that he make the dark dark.
JK: It was a good suggestion. There is nothing like working with a master to get suggestions like that.
There’s this idea — propagated by this book — that we shouldn’t be afraid of the dark. But the dark is scary! Shouldn’t you be warning kids instead of lulling them into false sense of security?
LS: Where you see “security” I see “fatalism,” but then for me it’s the same thing in airports.
JK: I think we just have to promise them that if they go down to the basement in the middle of the night, like in the book, it will answer all their questions.
Why does the dark always live in basements? Maybe we should start building houses without them …
LS: I imagine the dark often prefers basement living for the same reason people do: it’s cheaper.
JK: Yeah, a lot of people don’t know this, but when the dark was first starting out, it blew a lot of its savings on one bedroom apartments in nicer buildings. But it learned. It learned.
How did the two of you come to work together? Jon, you weren’t scared off by Lemony’s reputation?
LS: It is indeed sad that Mr. Klassen has sounded the death knell of his own career, reputation and mental health. On the other hand, he was already Canadian, so it’s not entirely my fault.
JK: I’d been in touch with Susan Rich, Daniel’s editor, and I sent her a picture I’d made of a boy standing at the top of the stairs with a flashlight shining down onto a dark doorway with text in the doorway telling the boy to come downstairs. She sent it to Daniel, I assume with some sort of blackmailing letter attached, and it was effective enough for him to write this book for me to illustrate. His reputation was scary, but I’m pretty scary too, you know. Kinda.
Was this a collaboration or did you work independently of one another?
LS: We would meet over a glass of chartreuse and then retreat to our respective corners.
JK: I would get chocolate milk. I’m surprised the bar had it available, actually.
Is this the beginning of a beautiful friendship? Or can you no longer stand the sight of each another?
LS: As we prefer to meet in the shadows, our looks are irrelevant.
JK: My looks are very relevant.