Matthew HughesTell us a bit about “Sternutative Sortilege.”

It’s another episode in the unlucky life of Raffalon, a journeyman thief in a world of wizards and walled cities.





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

It’s been my practice in recent years to write series of fantasy stories built around a single character who was originally created when Gardner Dozois asked me to write a novelette for one of his anthologies co-edited with George R.R. Martin.  Raffalon was the anti-hero of “The Inn of the Seven Blessings,” which appeared in the bestselling antho, ROGUES.

I thought he was too good a character to discard, so I wrote seven more Raffalon stories that appeared in F&SF.   I then put them together in a self-published collection (ebook and POD paperback) 9 TALES OF RAFFALON, that ended with the original novelette from the antho.  I thought it would be a good idea to add an original story that would entice Raffalon fans to buy the collection.  “Sternutative Sortilege” was that sweetener.  It also had the merit of connecting the Raffalon who had developed over the course of the F&SF stories with the original character introduced in “The Inn of the Seven Blessings.”


What are you working on now?

Right now I’m rereading Jack Vance’s Demon Princes novels with the aim of making a proposal to Jack’s son, John Vance, about writing a sequel to the original five.  I’ve always wondered what would have happened to Kirth Gersen, the hero of the novels, after he tracked down and killed the five master criminals who had destroyed his family and community.  Indeed, at the end of the fifth novel, Gersen himself wonders what will become of him now that “his enemies have all deserted” him.  So have a lot of Vance fans.  Now that John Vance is licensing other authors to write stories set in his father’s worlds, under a publishing program called Paladins of Vance, an answer might finally come.  It’s a project I would very much enjoy taking on.


Anything else you’d like to add?

The big thing that’s happening for me this year is the publication of my historical novel, with magical realism/slipstream elements, WHAT THE WIND BRINGS, scheduled for mid-August.  The publisher, Pulp Literature Press, has set up pre-order pages for a hardcover edition ( and a 100-copy signed limited hardcover (   The regular hardcover is $40 — that’s Canadian dollars, so it will be US$30 or UK£23.  The limited will be C$70 (US$52 or UK£40)

I waited more than forty years to write WHAT THE WIND BRINGS.  It’s a serious novel, my magnum opus, and the book I want to be remembered for.


“Sternutative Sortilege” appears in the May/June 2019 issue of F&SF.

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