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Interview: Matthew Hughes on “The Vindicator”

Matthew HughesTell us a bit about “The Vindicator.”

It’s a continuing episode in the unhappy saga of Raffalon, the unlucky thief.  Although he’s trained and skilled and adheres to the rules of his Guild, something almost always goes amiss and he has to scramble to stay alive.  He’s not the first unlucky character I’ve worked with; in my crime-writing days, I had an ambitious burglar named Mikey who came up with great schemes that always fell apart in the end.  Not everybody who tries is a winner.  Sorry about that.


What was the inspiration for this story, or what prompted you to write it?

I’m exploring Raffalon’s world: a Dying Earth milieu with somewhat medieval social structures like guilds and dukes.  It’s what Old Earth has become after science collapsed and magic became the fundamental operating principle of the universe, which is the grand overarching theme of all of my Archonate novels, novellas, and short stories.  And I wanted to carry Raff’s story forward towards the state I put him in — starving in a forest — in the very first story I wrote about him, “The Inn of the Seven Blessings,” that appeared in the cross-genre anthology Rogues.   That story, which has a happy ending, sends Raffalon on his final adventure as a thief.  All the others that have run in F&SF are prequels to “The Inn.”


Over the years, you’ve introduced many memorable characters to F&SF readers, and bade them farewell also.  How do you know when a character’s story arc is finished?

In practical terms, when I’ve written enough to make a decent short-story collection.  In literary terms, when I’m in danger of repeating myself.


Out of all of the characters in your Archonate Universe, who is your favorite?

Luff Imbry, my corpulent but brilliant master criminal of Old Earth (before magic takes over).  He’s based on the characters Sydney Greenstreet played in The Maltese Falcon and Casablanca:  a ruthless but cultivated fat man, amoral but not evil, a genius tipped at an early age into a life of crime.  Most of his adventures appeared in the UK publication Postscripts and aren’t known in North America.  I’ve collected them as The Meaning of Luff and Other Stories, available as an ebook or OD paperback.  He doesn’t lose, by the way.


The Meaning of Luff and Other StoriesWhat are you working on now?

I’m in waiting mode.  I’m looking for an agent to represent me on two books, a historical novel I waited forty years to write, and a modern suspense novel I’ve already sold as a limited edition to PS Publishing but kept the trade, ebook and paperback rights.  If I can get the suspense novel sold, I’ll write a sequel.  In the meantime, I’ll probably write a short story or three.

I’m also getting back the rights to my Luff Imbry novel, The Other.  I’d like to complete the story begun in that book, maybe over the next year.


“The Vindicator” appears in the November/December 2016 issue of F&SF.

You can buy a copy of the issue here:

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Much of Matthew Hughes’s backlist, including collections of stories that have appeared in F&SF, is available for purchase directly from the author’s website:



One Response to “Interview: Matthew Hughes on “The Vindicator””

  1. Archonate | Interview with F&SF on December 7th, 2016

    […] done an interview with Stephen Mazur for the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction blog.  It’s about […]

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