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Interview with M.R. Becker, author of Sunshine & Shadows

Welcome to another instalment of my Author’s Spotlight series, where I shine a light on talented authors and their remarkable works. Today, I am excited to feature M.R. Becker, an emerging indie romance author who has captured readers’ hearts with her latest book, “Sunshine & Shadows.” With its thrilling plot and captivating characters, this steamy suspense romance is bound to leave you on the edge of your seat.

M.R. Becker’s writing journey started in middle school, and after a long hiatus, she returned to her passion for storytelling. In this interview, I had the opportunity to delve into her creative process, exploring the inspiration behind “Sunshine & Shadows” and unravelling the complexities of its main characters, Maya and Daniel.

In “Sunshine & Shadows,” Maya, a thrill-seeking 911 operator, finds herself entangled in a mysterious and intense romance with Daniel. As they navigate their own personal challenges, including an unexpected prison pen pal program, Maya and Daniel’s journey takes unexpected turns that will keep readers hooked until the very end.

As an indie author, M.R. Becker shares her experiences in self-publishing and building her author brand. Her insights and tips for aspiring indie romance authors provide invaluable guidance for those looking to embark on their own writing journeys.

Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you started your writing journey in the romance genre?

I started writing in middle school, mainly for fun, but it wasn’t until 10th grade that I gave a handwritten romantic suspense mystery story to my English teacher. Unfortunately, he lost it. Fast forward almost twenty years, and I’m a mom of three with notebooks filled with partially finished stories. The writing bug hit me again, and in 2022, I published my first novel, “Finding Willow,” followed by “Shy Santa.”

“Sunshine & Shadows” sounds like an intense and thrilling romance story. What inspired you to write this particular book?

While writing “Shy Santa,” I met Maya, and I knew she would demand her own book. In the epilogue, I introduced Daniel, who was the perfect match for Maya. I’ve always been fascinated by the darker elements of society, and although “Sunshine & Shadows” wasn’t directly inspired by it, the docudrama “Mindhunters” about FBI profiling played a small role in our fascination with such elements.

Could you share some insights into the main characters, Maya and Daniel? What makes them unique, and what challenges do they face throughout the story?

Maya is a ball buster who loves a good time, is a loyal friend and enjoys a good mystery. Daniel, being the second to last baby in his family, is a jokester who quickly makes people laugh. When they meet, they both have a deep sense that they’ve found their match. Most of their challenges involve not killing each other, especially because Daniel likes to tease and say inappropriate things. Maya has more of an edge to her, while Daniel is more of a clown.

As a 911 operator, Maya lives for the thrills. How did you research and develop her character to make her portrayal as authentic as possible?

Maya’s job as a 911 operator isn’t a significant part of the story, but I made sure to be respectful and accurate with her occupation and lifestyle. I spoke with people in the field, such as cops, EMTs, and retired dispatchers. However, her job takes a backseat when she goes on a leave of absence after an incident at work.

The concept of a prison pen pal program adds an interesting twist to the story. What made you choose this element, and how does it contribute to the overall plot?

Maya’s fascination with crime and the thought process behind becoming a serial killer led me to explore the idea of prison pen pals. While I’ve never contemplated corresponding with criminals in prison, I know there’s a small segment of the population who falls in love with prisoners. Maya joins one or more of these programs, and it becomes a driving force in the story, pushing the plot forward.

The title “Sunshine & Shadows” suggests a play between light and dark. Can you discuss the themes you explore in the book and how they relate to the characters’ journey?

The themes of light and dark are prevalent in the story. Maya’s fascination with the darker side of life and her love for crime podcasts and books on the subject creates a contrast to Daniel’s more lighthearted and comedic personality. The interplay between these themes adds depth to the characters’ journey and their connection.

Without revealing too much, could you share a favorite scene or moment from the book that readers can look forward to?

One of my favorite scenes is when Daniel’s niece shows up for the first time. It’s the moment when Maya starts to see Daniel in a different light, beyond his clown-like persona. The interaction with his niece brings out a more tender and genuine side of Daniel, allowing Maya to develop a deeper connection with him.

As an indie author, what has been your experience navigating the world of self-publishing and building your author brand? Do you have any tips for aspiring indie romance authors?

Being an indie author has been a challenge for me, especially as a newcomer. Instead of solely focusing on building a readership, I prioritize creating stories that readers will love. It’s important not to get burned out by constantly worrying about followers, ratings, or book sales in the early stages. My advice for aspiring indie romance authors is to wait until you have at least one complete series out before pushing your brand and reaching a wider audience. Being an author is a long game, and finding your voice and creating stories that hook readers is crucial. Word of mouth and loyal readers will do more for your success than just promoting on social media.

How do you approach writing romance stories that captivate readers and keep them engaged from beginning to end? Any particular techniques or strategies you employ?

I’m a pantser when it comes to writing, meaning I don’t follow a strict outline or strategy. I let my characters speak through me, surprising me as they unfold their stories. When I find myself getting bored or annoyed with a character or the story, I introduce new ideas, conflicts, or even a problem like a dead body. This keeps the writing process exciting and prevents stagnation. While outlining and strategies may help with writing speed, it’s important to find an approach that works best for your own creativity and style.

“Sunshine & Shadows” is set to release soon. Can you give us a glimpse into any other projects or upcoming releases that readers can anticipate from you in the near future?

Currently, I’m working on two books. The first few months of this year were challenging for my family due to personal tragedies, so I had to set aside the novel “Protecting Alaina” temporarily. I also have the final book in the Kissing Springs shared world project, which I’m currently working on to meet the release date in October. After completing that, I’ll dive back into “Protecting Alaina” to prepare it for release. Additionally, I’m working on finishing up my two Kindle Vella serial stories, which are available on that platform.

You can find M.R. Becker’s books on Amazon, and follow her on Goodreads and Instagram, as well as her active Facebook page and group, where fans can connect and stay up-to-date with her latest releases.

If you’re an indie romance author interested in being featured in my Author Spotlight series, I invite you to fill out the form found on this page. Let’s continue to celebrate the incredible talent within the indie romance community together.