Risingshadow has the honour of publishing a guest post by Ken Hughes.

About Ken Hughes:

Ken Hughes dreams of dark alleys and the twenty-seven ways people with different psychic gifts might maneuver around each corner. He grew up on comics and adventures before discovering Steven King and Joss Whedon, and he's written for Mars mission proposals and medical devices, making him an honorary rocket scientist and brain surgeon. Ken is a Global Ebook Award-nominated urban fantasy novelist, who writes under the motto “Whispered spells for breathless suspense.” Don't get him started on puns.

Ken Hughes is the author of Shadowed, and the Spellkeeper Flight series that begins with The High Road.

Click here to visit his official website: www.KenHughesAuthor.com

About The High Road:

When you’re hanging in the sky, one wrong step can get you killed - if you see what's coming at all.

Yesterday Mark was a struggling bicycle courier, his only worry that Angie’s father had been keeping some kind of secret over the years he’s known them. He never dreamed it was the magic to control gravity.

Now Mark and Angie scramble through the city, and he watches her mastering the power and proving she can keep one step ahead of their enemies. With street gangs out for revenge and hidden masterminds that will kill to add this magic to their own, he thinks the worst weakness they can have will be if he can’t learn to keep up with her.

He’s wrong.

The High Road is the first book of the Spellkeeper Flight urban fantasy series. The second book, Freefall, launches in February.

GUEST POST: “A Writer’s Eye” by Ken Hughes

Writers look at people around them and think how they could be making their lives more interesting.

It’s a fun little superpower we have. But like all powers, it comes with great responsibility: we can use that perception to see into whole new worlds. Because we writers need to remember, every person we meet is their own story and their own hero.

I still remember the back yard I was in as a little boy, when a girl I knew suddenly told me how unfair it was when people told her what “girls couldn’t do.” Or the parking lot where a bumper sticker made an aging warrior tell me he was “not as lean, but still a Marine.” Glimpses like that make me want to look over at every bag of groceries in someone’s arms, every t-shirt logo, every snatch of conversation I pass on the street.

It’s the perfect power for whenever my writing feels stuck: just open my eyes wider.

My book might feature a magic belt and jumping into the stratosphere, but it always comes back to why a person would take that leap. That’s the difference between a mediocre tale and a memorable one—how well the writer understands what the characters choose, and what they have to work through to get there. Hope, confusion, disillusionment, courage… there are always more layers to explore.

Good thing the world’s full of portals into those possibilities. All I have to ask myself is, “what if.”

“What if I noticed” why a mother might be carrying two bags and a child all at once?

Or, “what if” I asked her?

It’s easy.

Often it only takes two words, like “Cool shirt!”—or three, “Need a hand?” I’m a lifelong introvert, but forcing myself to say those few words can earn me a real bargain in potential backstory. It’s simple human nature: most of us love to talk just because someone’s willing to listen.

(“My second-best friend feels like the most interesting person I know. My best friend can make me feel like the most interesting I know.” –said by pretty much everyone you meet.)

And that’s without mentioning our writing.

Even a hint that I’m interested in storytelling opens up whole other worlds of possibilities. Like:

* What’s a book, or a show, you liked? why’d it work for you?

* I’ve got my hero at a funeral and he thinks he sees the killer there—what would you do in that spot?

* Followup: if one character did jump up and accuse the killer in the middle of that service, would you sympathize with that character?

Or the classic:

* How do you do a job like yours? I’m thinking of putting it in a book...

(Just be careful with the last one. It’s so powerful it just might lead to a whole novel of material, or a traffic ticket dodged, a job offer, or a proposition.)

It’s simple, even for a quiet person like me who spends his days off locked in with a book and a keyboard. All it takes is enough courage to pause and say those two words—that and enduring any awkward moment if they do brush me off. (And treating minor rebuffs as “small stuff” is a skill everyone can use practice in, even if we weren’t querying enough agents to paper a wall with rejection letters.)

And that’s in person. Online, it’s so easy the only limit is how much time we can spare, and how fast we can move on if someone’s answer starts oversharing.

It’s also the strongest tool we have—for helping more people around us, for strengthening writing, and for strengthening ourselves as people too. It’s not every writing technique that can bring readers, and the writer, and even people who won’t read the book closer to the perfect end state for a story.

You know that perfect ending. When the person looks up, sad that it’s over, but mostly eager to turn back to their own life with some of the insights and warmth they’ve just felt.

All it takes is:

“What if... I asked him?”

Discuss this article in the forums (1 replies).