Bizarre Questions I Get Asked in the Library

(And also my responses to them.  Or at least, the responses I wish I was brave enough to give.  100% inspired by Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops.)

CUSTOMER: (Slurring heavily) S’bluebird with a feather in his cap!
ME: I … pardon?
CUSTOMER: With the feathers!  (Gestures wildly at his head)
ME: Oh.  Um.  Yes?
CUSTOMER: (Walks away, shaking his head) Try to ask a bloody question …

CUSTOMER: Where’s the tourist information centre?
ME: It’s closed down, I’m afraid.
CUSTOMER: But … this is a tourist town.  It’s on the beach.
ME: I know, but apparently tourists don’t need information anymore.

CUSTOMER: Do you sell books here?
ME: Mate.

CUSTOMER: My child has impetigo but it’s cool if he comes in and touches literally everything, right?
ME: Yeah, no problem, I’ll just burn the whole library down after work.

CUSTOMER: Can I have another hour on the computer?
ME: I’m sorry but other people are waiting to use them.
CUSTOMER: Oh, no problem, I’ll just log back in on my daughter’s card.

CUSTOMER: Some libraries do sell books.
Not this one, I’m afraid.

CUSTOMER: You get some weird people in here, don’t you?  Anyway, d’you want a lollipop?
ME: Um …
CUSTOMER: Oh don’t worry, it isn’t off the floor.  I’ve got a bunch in my pocket.
ME: You have a bunch of lollipops in your pocket, to hand out to librarians?  That isn’t weird at all.

CUSTOMER: (Some hideous attempt at flirting.)
ME: No.

CUSTOMER: But seriously, none of these books are for sale?
ME: I think the thing you’re looking for is a book shop.

COWORKER: Oh hey, there’s a lollipop on the desk!
ME: DON’T EAT THAT.  It’s brimming with rohypnol.  Probably.

Being a library assistant is neat as hell and plenty of our customers are lovely, but man.  We do get some oddballs.  I’m sure there are thousands more but this is all I can think of straight after work.  Does anyone else work in a library?  Are they all as crazy as this?  Comfort me with your own stories, and also read Weird Things Customers Say In Bookshops, because it’s wonderful.

Ten Little Astronauts

If you’re following me, it’s fairly likely you enjoy fantasy and science fiction.  Also probably reading.  So please check out this Kickstarter for Ten Little Astronauts by my buddy DamonWakes!


Ten Little Astronauts

Damon is a fantastic writer, and has been entertaining me with his flash fiction for years.  If you want to get a taste of his writing, I highly recommend you flick through his DeviantArt gallery.  Some of my favourites are:

Beauty and the Brick
Conveniently, at that moment, a vampire hunter jumped out from some other trees and drove a stake through the heart of the vampire. “Fear not, fair maiden!” he shouted. “For I am a vampire hunter, sworn to put an end to the undead menace once and for all!”
“I can see that,” she said. “It says so on your T shirt.”

Rebranding the Black Throne
“All I wanted was to have uncountable riches and limitless power and an army of goblin slaves. The dungeon was just the easiest way to organise it all, you know? Heroes come in, they get caught in some trap or other, you come in and enjoy a little leisurely gloating. Only now I’ve got it all set up, everyone who comes here is some kind of weirdo expecting a dirty thrill.”

Never Look Away
They say there’s nothing alive out here in the third layer. They say that there’s not enough energy to support it. That the background ALICE is high enough the place is sterile. But none of us really believed it.

If you like his work, please help fund Ten Little Astronauts!

Blogging is Like Looking at Other People’s Clothes

When I walk down the high street, I spend a good chunk of my time admiring what other people are wearing (the other chunk is currently taken up by Pokémon GO).

A goth walks past in magenta dreadlocks and knee high platforms? Awesome, I’ve got to wear that tomorrow! A girl floats past in a flowery dress? Oh man, no, I’m definitely wearing that! A boho hippy goes by in a comfy cardy and harem pants? Oh hell, I’d rather wear that, it looks so cosy!

And blogging is the same. When I first read Hyperbole and a Half, I wasted good hours scribbling on MS Paint, before I realised Allie isn’t kidding when she says her cartoons are more carefully crafted than they appear. Then I read a travel blog and desperately searched for plane tickets before remembering I am a poor graduate who’s never travelled alone before. Then I read some high-brow, literary blog and I go, ‘Yes, that’s better. I am a writer* and editor** so this is what I should be blogging!’ Then I read some classic literature and try to write a snobby, clever review, but it all falls apart because I am not a classy book reviewer. I am the girl who cried a little bit because she was so excited about Cyborg showing up in the Justice League trailer.

The thing about clothes and blogging is they’re both ways to display yourself to the world. I don’t know what it says about me that I want to change both of mine constantly, like some shambling polymorph monstrosity, but hey. There you go.

I also don’t know if there’s a point to this post, besides ‘it just popped into my head’ and ‘I’ve been reading Jenny Lawson recently and she’s temporarily taken over my brain/writing style’. Maybe someday I’ll actually find my niche. Who knows? Until then, I suppose I’ll remain Amelia Mackenzie, Polymorph Extraordinaire.



I Did a Steampunk Podcast!

Or, rather, I appeared in a podcast about Steampunk. The podcast is called Dissecting Dragons and I promise it’s not nearly as gory as it sounds.  It’s all about discussing speculative fiction, which is a fansy way of saying ‘not realism’.  Fantasy, sci-fi, fairy tales, dystopia … and now Steampunk!


It was really nice to take all that reading and research and madness that went into my MA dissertation and use it for something besides my MA dissertation, and occassionally annoying people with random Steampunk factoids.

Did you know that the word ‘Steampunk’ was invented by K.W. Jeter?  You would if you’d listened to Dissecting Dragons: Episode 24: Cognoggins and Clockwork – What makes good Steampunk?

Go and listen to it right now!  Enjoy the sound of my oddly nasal, sometimes-London-sometimes-West-Country voice.  Also the much nicer voices of Dissecting Dragons‘s regular hosts, Madeleine and Jules.  Then listen to all the other episodes because they’re fabulous, especially if you’re a lonely fantasy reader/writer like me and you like to be reminded there are others like you out there.  I promise, we exist.

Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops


Read if you like: Not Always Right, bookshops, or if you’ve ever worked in customer service

Jen Campbell’s Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops (and its sequel, More Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops) are hilarious, each containing hundreds of little snippets of funny and bizarre conversations heard in bookshops and libraries.

From rude customers to adorable (if amusingly misinformed) children to downright baffling queries, these books capture the weirdest moments of working in a bookshop (or any customer service, really) in fantastic form.  They had me chuckling all the way through, and occasionally shaking my head at how downright weird some people are.


I mean, really?  Really?

(Actually, I work in a library, so yes.  Really.)

Red flags:
(This book may not be for you if you avoid the following)

  • Quick read:  On the bright side, it’s so entertaining you won’t put it down.  On the less bright side, it won’t keep you entertained for all that long.  Due to the ‘snippet’ nature  of the books, it’s easy to tear through every page in one day.

Hyperbole and a Half


Read if you like: silly humour, comic books, relatable life stories

In this collection of illustrated short stories, Allie Brosh talks about her childhood, her pets, and the one time her home was invaded by an angry goose. The stories are all hilarious, which is a serious achievement, considering two stories tackle Allie’s battle with depression.

Even if you’re not familiar with Allie’s blog, Hyperbole and a Half, her book (of the same title) is uproarously funny. She included a few stories already on her blog to help new readers get up to speed, and never relies on in-jokes.

Possibly my favourite thing about Hyperbole and a Half (besides the tears of laughter) is the fact you can read it in any order. If one story interests you more, you can skip ahead without needing context.  Please do note, though, that her stories contain quite a bit of swearing, so the book isn’t suitable for children.

Red flags:
(This book may not be for you if you avoid the following)

  • Bizarre humour: I love Allie’s humour, but it is pretty wacky and humour is always subjective. I recommend you read a little of her blog before buying, to see if you like it!
  • Quick read: I got through this book in a day! Admittedly, I’ve read some of the stories before on her blog. But regardless, the comic-ish nature of Hyperbole and a Half means it can be read very quicky.

Amelia Recommends: SEED


Read if you like: stories about cults, suspense, mystery

SEED is Lisa Heathfield’s debut novel; an eerie story about a naïve young girl trapped in a cult.  Fifteen-year-old Pearl believes that Seed, the compound where she’s lived all her life, is a paradise, and that Nature will care for her every need.  Her only desires are to know which of the women at Seed is her true mother–knowledge forbidden to the children there–and to someday be companion to Papa S, Seed’s mysterious and charismatic leader.

However, when newcomers are allowed to join Seed from the Outside, Pearl’s worldview is shattered.  Ellis, teenage boy from Outside,  shows Pearl that not everything in Seed is as it seems, and not everyone she loves can be trusted.

I raced through SEED in just a couple of days.  The story is compelling, the suspense sometimes agonising.  Mature themes creep through in places, so it’s definitely a teen novel and not for children.  However, they are kept mostly vague and only implied, so it’s never too disturbing.

Red Flags:
(This book may not be for you if you avoid the following)

  • Dramatic Irony: you will know what’s going on in Seed way ahead of Pearl.  In fact, you’re likely to be ten steps ahead of her for the entire book.  For this reason, some people on Amazon have lamented Pearl being the protagonist, when other characters are more clued-in (and sometimes appear more interesting for it).
  • Loose Ends: the end of the book runs a mile-a-minute, and then just … stops.  A few plot threads are simply left hanging, and I admit I was disappointed by a final chapter that seemed rushed.
  • Shying from the Dark Stuff: other cult books for teenagers (Forbidden by Judy Waite, for example) are more willing to tackle mature themes, where SEED keeps them in the shadows.  Some reviewers have found this irritating, as they’d rather see the writer face themes of abuse, rape and manipulation head-on.