The following is written in the voice of Ropa Moyo, a ghosttalker who makes a living carrying the messages of the departed in T.L. Huchu’s The Library of the Dead—available from Tor Books. Who better to offer career advice than a cynical teen caught in the shadowy magical underside of modern Edinburgh?
So you’ve just discovered you have the ability to see ghosts. Congratulations! This is such a rare and potentially marketable talent, which you should be thinking about exploiting as soon as you get over the shock, fear and other associated emotional responses you may experience from witnessing the dead walk among us. The dead and their survivors have needs postmortem, and research shows exponential growth in the service industry for ghostalkers, mediums, bereavement counsellors, funeral directors, and other associated professions.
With an aging population, pandemics, wars, economic decline, and civil strife, having affected modern Scotland, you are entering the market at a highly lucrative time and you’d do well to make hay during this very exciting period. Now, most novices are hesitant to monetize their abilities as they may feel this is exploitative, but according to Rossworth Rupini, the mega-bestselling author of Rich Sorcerer, Poor Sorcerer: A Practical Guide to the Sound Management of Your Magical Career, “… ever since the first shaman or village charlatan accepted a goat or chicken in exchange for a prayer, charm or a hex, the path for magical enterprise was set… It is only wizards in fiction that care not for coin and reward.” You deserve to be compensated for your talent and I will show you how. The following advice is based on my extensive experience in the ghostalking industry, along with wisdom gleaned from the leading practitioners of scientific magic in Scotland. It will help you set up your practice for guaranteed success or your money back!
Register with the Allied Esoteric Professions Council
The rules governing the practice of magic in Scotland are very strict, and unregistered practitioners and/or charlatans face severe legal penalties. Ghostalkers, unlike mediums, are not considered magicians since they are not trained by one of the four magic schools in Scotland. Actual magicians are registered with the Society for Sceptical Enquirers and enjoy extensive privileges which allied practitioners like yourself do not. It is important to note your scope of practice as a ghostalker is restricted to ‘the receipt and transmission of oral communications using recognised extranatural methodologies’.
Dealing With Ghosts
The dead have a number of needs that require servicing, but your occupation only allows you to transmit messages to their intended recipients for a fee. Do not allow yourself to be sucked into activities outwith your scope of practice such as agreeing to find missing children, etc. You need to be firm with your spectral clients, set boundaries, and deny service to any who do not respect your terms and conditions. Also note: you are not allowed to transmit threats, abusive messages and/or otherwise objectionable material, but you may pass on redacted communications at your discretion. Most ghosts are unable to pay you directly by virtue of being dead, so usually fees are reverse charged to the recipient which leads to our next point.
The Customers Are Not Your Friends
While ghostalkers often provide an intimate service, acting a go-between for the dead and their loved ones, you should be ever mindful this is purely a commercial service. Certain customers may ask for discounts or to defer payment — under no circumstances should you ever acquiesce to this. It’s a slippery slope which not only diminishes your own value, but that of other practitioners in the field. Know your value. There are numerous studies published indicating that lowering your price is directly proportional to the customers’ perception of the worth of your services overall. In the long term this has a detrimental effect on your practice as the customers will think, “If this guy is so cheap, surely they can’t be any good.” Don’t be a mug.
Always Squeeze Them For More or Building a Business Within a Business
Your primary role as a ghostalker is to pass on messages, but there are certain ancillary services you may legally provide if you are savvy. For example, when there are disputes with regards to wills, the ghostalker can act as an intermediary helping lawyers to ascertain the true intentions of the deceased. This is a service for which you should charge more. In the cause of hauntings, while you are not legally allowed to cast out the poltergeist, you may act as an intermediary negotiating between the living and the dead to find a settlement which allows the ghost to move on peaceably. This is another service for which you may charge a premium. Please note, this is a grey area and should you market your services as an exorcist you are liable to censure and/or expulsion from the AEPC register.
Keep Your Eyes Peeled and Your Nose to the Grindstone
In today’s competitive world, one should always be on the lookout for ways to edge out the competition. While being a ghostalker is at the bottom rung of Scottish magical society, there are opportunities available to upskill and make your way into the service of the Society for Sceptical Enquirers where the big bucks are. So keep your eyes peeled and remember to dream big.
These are just a few necessary steps for making your way into what is increasingly becoming recognised as one of the most lucrative blue collar professions today. I hope you’ve found my advice useful.
Good luck—I wish you every success in your exciting magical venture!
–Ropa Moyo (AEPC registered practitioner, current intern to the chairman of the Society of Sceptical Enquirers)
T. L. Huchu (he/him) has been published previously (as Tendai Huchu) in the adult market, but The Library of the Dead is his genre fiction debut. His previous books (The Hairdresser of Harare and The Maestro, The Magistrate and the Mathematician) have been translated into multiple languages and his short fiction has won awards. Tendai grew in up Zimbabwe but has lived in Edinburgh for most of his adult life.