ActuSF : Tell us how you become writer ? Why do you write with three pseudonyms
: Matt Hughes, Matthew Hughes, Hugh Mathhews ?
Matthew Hughes : I have always earned my living as a writer. It was the only thing I
could do well enough to earn enough to feed my family.
I began as a journalist on small newspapers in British Columbia. By an
unlikely chance, I was offered a position as assistant to a Canadian
Member of Parliament in Ottawa. That led to my discovering that I had a
natural talent for writing speeches. I became the staff speechwriter to
the Canadian Minister of Justice, then I worked for the Minister for
Environment, both in the Pierre Trudeau government of 1974-79.
In 1978, I returned to British Columbia and began a career of almost
thirty years as a freelance speech writer. In the 1990s, when my sons
were becoming old enough to leave home, I began to write fiction, which
was always my dream. My goal was to establish myself as a writer of
crime fiction and I made some progress (a novel, some short stories, an
award). But then I sold an old science-fantasy novel I had written in
the 1980s to a major publisher, who also asked for a sequel. Those two
books led to other offers, and I now find myself established as a
I began writing as Matt Hughes, which is the name I answer to. My first
sf editor recommended using my full name, Matthew Hughes, for
science-fantasy because marketing departments at publishing houses like
to keep the genres separate. I wrote one “for-hire” novel,
Wolverine:Lifeblood, as Hugh Matthews, again because I was advised to
keep a distinction between my own fiction and what they call “media
ActuSf : In France, we know « Black Brillion » and now « Majestrum ». Is-it the
same order of released in England ? This is the way you built your
universe “ Archonat”. There are perhaps some short novels before. How
many books did occurre in the Archonat today ?
Matthew Hughes : So far, seven have been published, with two more to come, plus
twenty-one short stories (although some of those stories are parts of
the novels). Black Brillion was the third Archonate novel, after Fools
Errant and Fool Me Twice. Majestrum is the first of a trilogy about a
Sherlock Holmesean detective living in the age just before the period of
Jack Vance’s The Dying Earth. All of my novels and stories are listed on
my web page in chronological order at http://www.archonate.com/bibliography
ActuSf : The Archonat is a rich and complicate universe which is discovered little by
little with every different story. How do you describe his singularity
and originality, in a sight global, for a lector, stranger to your work ?
Matthew Hughes : The Archonate works take place at roughly the same time, but are told from the points-of-view of different characters. They do not form one
long narrative, but rather they are different views of the same milieu:
a time when humanity has spread throughout our arm of the galaxy (The
Spray) in a civilization known colloquially as the Ten Thousand Worlds.
It is far, far in the future, when everything that can be known has been
discovered, and life for most people consists of applying various
philosophical or cultish approaches to the grand question of “why get up
in the morning?”
My technique is not to explain and describe, but to immerse the reader
in the universe as it is experienced by the characters. It is a little
like being set down in a foreign place and gradually coming to
understand how things work by observing what the inhabitants do and say.
ActuSf : In Black Brillion, we noticed that your imagination
could be all put in a same source : the will to materialise the
phenomena psychic. Could you tell us more about that ?
Matthew Hughes : I like Carl Jung’s idea (as explained by the comparative mythologist Joseph Campbell) of the collective unconscious, the underlying part of
the human psyche where reside the archetypal figures that continually
reoccur in story and dreams. In Black Brillion, much of the action takes
place in the collective unconscious and one of the characters, Guth
Bandar, is an explorer of that realm. The story also touches on the
question of what would happen to the human collective unconscious if ti
came into contact with the equivalent psyche of a telepathic hive-species.
ActuSf : Is « The others » the second novel with Luf Umbry ? In this case, does it the sequel of black brillion. When and where does occurre the story ?
Matthew Hughes : The Other (at the moment that is the novel’s working title) is the first novel about Luff Imbry, a main character in Black Brillion. In Black
Brillion, Imbry is a master criminal forced to join the Archonate Bureau
of Scrutiny. After that novel appeared, the editor and critic Nick
Gevers suggested that I write a story for his magazine, Postscripts,
about the character’s life before he was conscripted into the police.
That led to several stories, and now I am writing The Other as the first
novel-length tale of Imbry. So it should be considered a “prequel.”
ActuSf : In Majestrum we discover the talls of Hephis Hapthorn. Is it a trilogy ?
Is it over ? Which link does Majestrum get with the two others book ?
Matthew Hughes : Majestrum is the first of three novels about Henghis Hapthorn, a
Sherlock Holmes of the far future. The second is The Spiral Labyrinth,
published by Night Shade Books in the United States in 2007. A third
novel, Hespira, was supposed to have been published last year but has
been delayed by the publisher’s lack of organization.
Hapthorn began as a character in a story entitled “Mastermindless” in
the Magazine if Fantasy & Science Fiction in 2005. The character was
popular with readers, so I wrote five more stories, creating an arc of
development: Hapthorn is a brilliant rationalist who discovers, to his
horror, that the universe periodically changes its fundamental rules
from cause-and-effect to sympathetic-association (magic), and that the
transition is going to happen soon.
He is exposed to some forerunners of the impending new age, with the
result that the part of his psyche that would flourish in an age of
magic, his intuitive self, splits off and becomes a separate person.
They establish an uneasy relationship of cooperative competitiveness.
Also, Hapthorn’s assistant, a multipurpose device (communications,
observation, research, recording, etc.) called an integrator, is
transformed into its equivalent in the age of magic; it becomes a small,
furry animal of indeterminate species, with a querulous disposition and
an unending appetite for expensive fruits.