INTERVIEWER: So, Vinnie, your business card calls you a "Jobbing Occultist"?
VINNIE DE SOTH: Um, yes. I wanted it to say "Consulting Occultist", because, you know, it sounds better than "Desperate guy working out of the back of a seedy Soho bookshop, please, please hire me because I need to pay my rent," but the extra letters would have put the printing up a price bracket.
INTERVIEWER (distracted): Ah. I was wondering whether the tiny broken desk in a cluttered new age store was a life choice. Maybe it has some mystical significance?
VINNIE: I suppose I might still be working off a few karma curses from my mother. Or my brother. Or my sisters. Or my ex-fiancée. Or any of my other enemies. Mostly I'm just not that great about collecting fees for the work I do.
INTERVIEWER: But you are an occultist? Who presumably jobs.
VINNIE: Well, I'm also an alternative lifestyle consultant, feng shui advisor, astrology chart debugger, and emergency exorcist. Whatever brings the work in, really. My landlord can be pretty offensive otherwise. Well, his t-shirts are.
INTERVIEWER: That's an unusual career choice. What made you take up that kind of job?
VINNIE: Honestly? When I sort of walked out on my family there wasn't a lot else I knew how to do. House De Soth has been doing the weird for more centuries than you'd believe. When there was a bit of a falling out and I needed to leave I had to find some kind of paying gig. It was this or burgers. Actually, a fast-food chain would probably pay more.
INTERVIEWER: This is a family business, then?
VINNIE: Er, no. My family, my ex-family that is, is more on the cause-the-arcane-problems side usually. I suppose I'm the white sheep of the de Soths. The rest are… not so white. But I will say this for growing up in a clan of murderous evil mages, you really get to practice your arcane survival skills.
INTERVIEWER: I can never tell when you're being serious.
VINNIE: I don't know why you have to be called "Interviewer". Honestly, Annette, talking like this is difficult enough. Why can't I just call you by name?
INTERVIEWER, WHO MAY OR MAY NOT BE ANNETTE: It's a professional thing. Like you not giving your hair and nail clippings to witches. Anyway, you owe me for nearly getting me killed by those punk vampires.
VINNIE: I know. Who still goes punk? Even if you were sucked dry in the 70s or early 80s, it's time to move on.
INTERVIEWER: Can we just… not talk about the blood-drinking undead? Let's try and keep this normal enough so I can sell the piece to one of those far-out alternate lifestyle online blogs. Nobody is going to believe you hunt vampires for a living.
VINNIE: Good, because I don't. Not just vampires, anyway. Ghosts. Poltergeists. Werewolves and other skinshifters. Brain-eating Ghouls – the evil ones anyhow. Saaiitaii manifestations if they're not too big or gross. Fairies.
VINNIE: What? There are fairies. You just have to know not to take their bribes. They always turn to piles of leaves by morning. Even the ones made by credit card.
INTERVIEWER: Well apart from the, um, those things you just listed, what sort of services do you provide? More normal services.
VINNIE: Mostly small stuff. Curse removal. Karma readings. Online tarot fantasies. The odd bit of editing for ghost writing. Wart charming if I have to. But sometimes something a little more serious comes along and I have to get a bit more proactive.
INTERVIEWER: Like the thing with the vampires?
VINNIE: Kind of, yeah. Look, you survived. That's generally a plus in these kind of encounters. You even got a story out of it.
INTERVIEWER: A story my editor dismissed as fiction. The only place I could get it in print was in a horror anthology. Look in a collection called "Occult Detective Monster Hunter: A Grimoire of Eldritch Inquests." You're in there.
VINNIE: That's sort of nice. Great-granddad was in Heinrich Kremer's Malleus Maleficarum. My sister thinks she's in the Book of Revelations.
INTERVIEWER: There is one more thing I should maybe mention, Vinnie. And I'm really sorry about this. My editor wasn't one hundred percent approving of your expense and fee vouchers for that vampire thing.
VINNIE (WINCING): What percentage of approving was he, Annette?
INTERVIEWER: Zero percent? I'm sorry, Vin. I mean, there you were saving the world and stuff, and you don't even get to collect for the Tube fare. It's not right.
VINNIE: Hey, you wanted to know what Vinnie de Soth is about? Now you get it.
INTERRUPTION FROM ALTO TUMOUR, OWNER OF THE OCCULT BOOKSHOP WHERE VINNIE WORKS: Hey, de Soth! There's some guy out here says he needs help with a cursed dagger. Could you get it out of him before he bleeds on the carpet any more?
VINNIE: Ah. Sounds like I have to go. Sorry Annette – I mean, Interviewer. Coming, Alto! Does the guy with the cursed blade also have a wallet…?
Now available from Emby Press:
OCCULT DETECTIVE MONSTER HUNTER: A GRIMOIRE OF ELDRITCH INQUESTS
Release date: March 2015
Price: $4.00 Kindle Edition only
Available from Chillwater Press from June 2015:
VINNIE DE SOTH, JOBBING OCCULTIST
Original concepts, characters, and situations copyright © 2015 reserved by Ian Watson. The right of Ian Watson to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the UK Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved.