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Interview: Matthew Hughes on “Air of the Overworld”

Matthew HughesTell us a bit about “Air of the Overworld.”

It’s a continuation of the development of Baldemar, the wizard’s henchman, who started off as an exceptionally street-smart ten-year-old in “Ten Half-Pennies,” then became a debt collector’s apprentice and finally henchman to a vainglorious thaumaturge named Thelerion.  Then he came to the attention of a kind of god that had its own agenda for him, and which made some changes in Baldemar’s being that made him more useful to the god.  After a side-trip into politics and police work, those changes brought him to the notice of other thaumaturges.  And now, in “Air of the Overworld,” a powerful wizard wants to use the henchman for purposes that pose an existential threat to Baldemar.  So, once again, he has to find a way to foil those who do not wish him well.


Was this story personal to you in any way?  If so, how?

Somewhat.  Looking back on my life, it has occurred to me lately that, like Baldemar, I was often a henchman to powerful figures in the worlds of politics and business, while also being a fish out of water in those milieus, having begun my life as one of the working poor.  So I know what it’s like to be a part of somebody else’s plans, with little power to change them.


Can you tell us anything about your writing process for “Air of the Overworld?”

Not much.  I start at the beginning and keep on going to the end.  One draft, a polish, and there it is.


What are you working on now?

I’m writing The Do-Gooder, a sequel to a suspense novel, One More Kill, that has come out in limited edition hardcover in the UK and will be out in paperback and ebook editions in North America later this year.  Both are about an ex-Special Forces officer, unfairly invalided out of the US Army, who falls into a “hobby” of killing people who have done great harm and got away with it.


Anything else you’d like to add?

I’ve come to an agreement with Jack Vance’s son, John, that I will be writing a sequel to Jack Vance’s iconic Demon Princes series.  I’ll work on it this summer, after I finish The Do-Gooder.

Also, I’d like to plug once more my big historical/magical realism novel, What the Wind Brings, that I waited more than forty years to write.  I’ve just received a very kind review of the novel from Dr. Joseph Bruchac, an eminent author of traditional tales from indigenous cultures who has a story in the upcoming May/June issue of F&SF.

He says the book is, “. . . one of those stories that you wish would never end as you are reading it. Its evocation of the clash of cultures —Indigenous, African and Spanish– in 16th century Ecuador is more than merely memorable. It is what I would call required reading for anyone interested in the early colonial history of the Americas.”


“Air of the Overworld” appears in the January/February 2020 issue of F&SF.

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Click on Mr. Hughes’s photo to visit his website.


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