“I’m a lich, technically,” said Gerald. “An undead abomination sustained by sheer force of will along with necromantic spells from beyond the ken of sanity.”

“Yes, and I’m a wight,” said Geraldine. “Not technically undead but not fully alive, capable of draining life energy at a touch and using it to sustain my horrific existence.”

“They say opposites attract,” laughed Gerald.

“Yes, the horrors of my existence beyond the veil exactly cancel out those of Gerald’s,” Geraldine added. “Why, Madison and Powell look almost human aside from the paleness and fangs.”

“There was some trouble with the families at first,” said Gerald. “But we’re raising the children as vampires. It’s a good compromise for everyone involved.”

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“So,” said Ulgathk the Ever-Living, tenting his skeletal fingers on the desktop, “what makes you qualified to lead the charge in the reputational rehabilitation of liches, wights, and ghouls?”

Alistair grinned his most confident smile. “Well, I have ten years as a ghostwriter with Giraudoux & Strauss. In that capacity, I wrote autobiographies, stories, and screenplays. Ever hear of the ‘novel’ that Paris Ritchie wrote? That was me.”

“You did that?” croaked Gothmir the Depraved. “I remember that one. Pulpy but convincing. I was surprised she could even read, much less write.”

“Indeed, that is impressive,” said Ulgathk, the searing lights in his empty eye sockets dancing. “But we need more than impressive ghostwriting. We need a narrative for you, a come-from nowhere story.”

“I assure you, sir, my writing speaks for itself,” Alistair retorted. A bead of sweat made its way visibly down one cheek. “I brought samples if you doubt me.”

“That’s not the point,” hissed the third member of the panel, Nthaeit, Archduke of Wights. “We are attempting to counter a very concerted propaganda effort by our mortal enemies in undeath, who in the space of a mere decade have been able to reinvent themselves from horrors to be shunned to sex idols to be worshiped. A large part of that is the author’s story–they need to come from nowhere, they shouldn’t be slick, they should appear genuine.”

Gothmir the Depraved bobbed his grotesquely distended head, splattering unspeakable juices on his three-piece suit. “The authors enthralled by our enemies in undeath are hack screenwriters, sexually repressed housewives, and emo lolichan girls in black lipstick. We have to know that you can compete with that.”

Ulgathk the Ever-Living tapped where his nose should have been in assent. “So what’s your story, Alistair Chamberlain? Where are you now, where have you come from, and where are you going?”

Alistair never dropped his smile. “Well, I went to Berkley and majored in 18th-century French Romantic poetry, and then worked a stint at a coffee house in Chelsea. I-”

The Elder Lich raised a hand. “I’m going to stop you right there,” Ulgathk said. “That’s not really what we’re looking for.”

“Lacks the common touch,” agreed the Archduke of Wights.

“Too ivory tower, too hipster,” said Gothmir. “People don’t take to that narrative no matter how good the writing is.”

“But-” Alistair began.

“Sorry,” said Ulgathk. His upraised hand glowed as it sucked the lifeforce from Alastair’s body. “But thanks for your time.”

Nthaeit took up his broadsword Hatscarnot, Slayer of Kings, and poked the interviewee’s dessicated remains, crumbling them to dust. “Next!”