Author Interview - H. E. Bauman

H.E. Bauman is a fantasy author obsessed with all things magical. She’s the author of the Darkened Skies series and has a space fantasy series in the works. She’s been writing since she was a child, and some of her earliest stories were about witches, cats, and talking gryphons. When she’s not writing, you can find her playing tennis, immersed in a video game, or spending time with her family.

Genre: Fantasy


Q1: What is the name of your latest book and what is it about?

Under Darkened Skies is a new adult romantic fantasy novel about a young woman keeping a magical secret. Astrea Sovna, the main character, is a Lightbringer, a magical healer and empath. Her uncle is the court seer, and when she was very young, he had a vision of Astrea dying on the battlefield. They hid her magic from the emperor to spare her that fate.

Astrea works as a junior librarian, but the emperor personally selects her to work on a diplomatic project with his youngest son and her former best friend, Prince Varojin Auris. Forced to work together, they soon uncover a series of murders and shadowy people that seem to be connected to both Astrea’s magic and the emperor’s project. It’s up to Astrea, Varojin, and their friends to uncover those secrets for the security of the whole continent.

Q2: How long does it take you to write a book? How long does each stage of the process usually take?

Gosh, it’s honestly varied for every book I’ve written for the Darkened Skies series so far, which is four of the six I’ve planned. Under Darkened Skies, the first in the series, took me the longest since it was a new world and new characters, and there was a lot of discovery writing that had to happen to figure out those important elements.

Now that I’ve moved deeper into the series, I can get most of my novels from first draft to an almost final draft in ten to thirteen months. Each book goes through multiple rounds of review and revisions by me, my beta readers, and my editor. I couldn’t do it without their help!

Q3: What is your favourite type of character to write?

I’m sure most writers say this, but I love writing complex characters. People are complicated, and it’s really interesting and rewarding to watch your characters grow as they face those world-ending challenges often seen in fantasy.

One of the main things Astrea struggles with in Under Darkened Skies is finding her voice and sticking up for herself. There’s a lot of internal uncertainty as she begins to grow, and she continues that journey (and gains more confidence in herself) in the second book. It’s letting me dig into things like support systems, partnership (romantic or otherwise), letting go of old patterns, and finding a balance between individualism and community, so that’s been fun to write about and explore.

Q4: Do you mine your own life for ideas, settings and/or characters? If so, please give an example from your current book release where you have done this.

I definitely look to my own life for inspiration about all kinds of things for my books. Astrea Sovna, the main character in Under Darkened Skies, is a magical healer and empath. I’ve played video games my whole life, and I gravitate toward characters with healing powers. I thought it’d be a fun challenge to write about a healer—who has no battle experience—thrown into what becomes an epic mystery spanning the entire continent. That’s obviously a huge part of her character and impacts her deeply.

I get inspiration for setting from the real world, too. My husband and I went on our honeymoon in Paris, and the Luxembourg Gardens there were a great inspiration for the vibes I was trying to capture in certain locations in Under Darkened Skies. We spent a few hours there one afternoon just soaking up the sun and relaxing, and that helped me in picturing what city gardens and parks might look like in my fantasy world.

Q5: What is something you wish you had known earlier on in your writing career?

I’ve always known that writing is a messy process. Drafting, rewriting, and revising are full of ups and downs, and though that can be hard, I always know what to expect.

But as far as publishing goes, I feel like people don’t talk about how much of an emotional rollercoaster this process can be. There’s a lot of anxiety and excitement at the same time, especially once you hit those few months before publication. It’s such a privilege and honor to have readers diving into your world, but there are still so many other emotions going on behind the scenes. I knew it wouldn’t just be sunshine and rainbows, but I wish I’d known the process would have so many mixed emotions.

Q6: What do you do when you find yourself in a bit of a writing rut? Is there any strategy you find works for you to help the words start flowing again? 

There are a couple of ways I get myself out of a writing rut. The first one is to just push through, which is obviously easier said than done. But I find that if I just make myself sit there and write 500 words, even if they’re not the best words, that can sometimes help get me back on track. Moving my body is also helpful, so I’ll either go for a walk or play tennis. When I’m in a deep rut, I usually bounce between those two strategies for a few days until I find that writing flow again.

Q7: Your debut Fantasy novel, Under Darkened Skies, has 1920s vibes and tech. What sort of research did you need to do to ensure your story is accurate?

When I was first writing Under Darkened Skies, I knew I wanted to add 1920s flair to the story despite it being a completely made-up fantasy world. I thought it would be fun to have that level of technology and that it might open some interesting doors for me as the series continued. Several people, upon hearing “1920s,” have asked if it’s like The Great Gatsby with magic, or if there are gangsters and flappers, and I can answer both of those questions with a solid “no.”

As far as research, I’ve read up on all sorts of things: 1920s cars and their styles, airships (like zeppelins), telephones and radios, even espresso machines! I’ve also looked at 1920s fashion and architecture from various parts of the world, especially Mediterranean Europe, which was a large inspiration for the setting of Under Darkened Skies. But I gave myself more room to play with those elements since it is a fantasy world.

Q8: How would you describe your book’s ideal reader?

Under Darkened Skies is a medium-paced romantic fantasy for new adult and adult readers. I’d say the book’s ideal reader would be someone who not only enjoys that kind of pacing, but readers who like magical fight scenes, mysteries, background politics, a wide supporting cast, and a main character who has to step into and learn about their power.

Q9: What authors or books inspire you the most?

This is such a hard question! There have been so many books and authors I’ve loved over the years. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke and Tamora Pierce’s books were early favorites; I still have my copies from when I was much younger! I loved the Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo, and Lore by Alexandra Bracken was so fast paced and intense. Other fantasy authors I admire include Susan Dennard and Sabaa Tahir, just to name two of many.

Q10: What are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading The Spare Man by Mary Robinette Kowal, and A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark is next on my list.

To find out more about H.E.Bauman check her out on or give her a follow in Instagram @hebauman.

Under Darkened Skies is now available! From the blurb:

A librarian with a secret. A prince looking for redemption. A dark discovery that will force them to confront their truths.

Astrea Sovna is destined to die. As a Lightbringer, she’s expected to serve the Helosian government as a battlefield healer; but when the court seer—Astrea’s uncle—has a vision of her being killed in the line of duty, he forbids her to reveal her powers.

Until now, Astrea has gone unnoticed as a junior librarian. But when she gets reassigned to a diplomatic project to strengthen ties between Helosia and one of its neighbors, she finds herself saddled with her past, in the form of returned war hero and her ex-best friend, Prince Varojin Auris.

Forced to work together, Astrea soon learns that although Varojin has been out of her life for years, he’s still the kind, patient friend she remembers. As they navigate old friendships and imperial politics, the pair discovers that the mysterious shadows stalking the city are leaving a trail of murder victims in their wake. And when Astrea becomes a target, a dear friend gets caught in the crossfire…

As Astrea and Varojin begin searching for answers, they realize there is much more to the emperor’s project than political niceties. If the shadows aren’t stopped, Astrea’s future—and the security of the entire continent—hangs in the balance.


Popular Posts