Sophie and Chris Brousseau form the husband and wife writing team behind Maple Lion Fiction. Together they have published five novellas which have now been released as a full-length novel: Isle of Chaos. Sophie honed her writing skills working in behavioural science research and Chris developed his storytelling prowess over the past decade working in video games. They each bring their own unique experience to the table, but it was their shared love of regaling others with a good story and quirky humour that inspired them to venture into the world of fiction writing together.
Genre: Dark, Humorous, Action & Adventure
Q1: What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
Chris: Isle of Chaos: Golden Age Tales is the name of the book, and what inspired it is a little bit of a story…
In 2011 I noticed a severe lack of good pirate themed movies, books, tv series as well as video games and I’ve always loved pirates. The chaos, the fun, the lawlessness of it has always attracted me, so I decided that I would write some sort of pirate novel. Around the same time Game of Thrones aired and I was hooked. I loved the multi character, dark themed semi-fantasy styled tv show, so I thought I’d go down that road with the book and that’s it, that’s how it started. I had written a few characters, written about 20,000 words or so and then I put the whole thing on pause and for some reason never went back to it.
Sophie: Many years later we met in Australia, got married and decided we wanted to work on a project together. We both think very similarly, and I had been writing research papers, so I’d got used to writing professionally but certainly not fiction. It was all very new to me. When Chris mentioned the draft and the pirate world I jumped at the chance! I’ve always loved pirates. I read the draft of what he had written all those years ago, killed off a couple of characters, wrote a second draft, then a third… and the rest is what’s out in the world today.
Chris: As for the story itself, what inspired it was a love of drama. The idea of things happening to the characters where the audience or reader knows how bad something is going to turn out, but the characters don’t. In Isle of Chaos there are six main characters and each one accidentally causes problems for another, but they have no idea they are doing so.
Sophie: Yes, everything has a knock-on effect and it makes for an exciting story.
Q2: What are five words that describe your writing process?
Chris: Research, planning, plotting, re-writing, crying.
Sophie: Coffee, scattered, structured, fidgety, immersive.
Q3: What authors, or books have influenced you?
Chris: We aren’t actually avid readers, certainly not ‘bookworms’ TV shows have actually influenced me more, shows like Breaking Bad, Seinfeld and the Sopranos.
Sophie: It’s true. Neither of us are ‘bookworms’ more TV viewers, our writing is very dialogue heavy, non-traditional some might say. We do read, just not the amount people might assume.
Chris: I love action packed writing. I’m a fan of Joe Abercrombie’s books, specifically the First Law trilogy as well as the new ones from that same world.
Sophie: For me, Stephen King and Clive Cussler through to Enid Blyton have all influenced my writing style. Though recently I’ve been getting more into contemporary and that may influence future works.
Q4: What do you need in your writing space to help you stay focused?
Sophie: Coffee, water and ideally my double screen desk set up. I’m not a fan of working on the couch or somewhere romantic like a coffee shop. No work is getting done there for me!
Q5. What, to you, are the most important elements of good writing?
Chris: Strong and interesting characters and a good story, people can overlook a lot if you have those two first things.
Sophie: Agreed. I think you want to be able to connect with those characters quickly too, otherwise the interest is lost.
Q6: What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Chris: Nobody knows what they’re doing, not even the pro’s and personally after working in some of the top video game companies I know that is the truth. You just gotta do your best, forget the rest!
Sophie: Try your best given the circumstances. It’s sort of simple, but I apply it to all aspects of my life. I spent a lot of time in my life striving for perfection and it was actually stifling, so now I reflect on things and ask myself that.
Q7: What is your favourite genre to read?
Chris: I’m open the any genre really as long as the writing is to my style, so no long descriptions. I don’t want to have someone explain to me what a wall looks like for two paragraphs. No offense to those that do, some people really like that style, I’ve had a few friends tell me that our style is good, but too fast paced for them. It’s just a personal preference.
Sophie: I’ll give most things try, I typically lean towards darker subject matter or humorous or both! I don’t tend to read fantasy, hardcore horror or straight up romance, but that’s about it.
Q8: What comes first for you — the plot or the characters — and why?
Sophie: This is a Chris question; he handles the plot and first draft…
Chris: Loose plot first, I want a story where this kind of thing happens. Then the characters to fit the scene. As for why? I don’t actually know, stories are usually sold as more of an event, so it’s like, hey remember when this thing happened? Remember when we went to the ice cream shop, and someone dropped their ice cream and found a golden coin which led them to buried treasure? Remember when the cruise ship got overtaken by pirates? Etc. That usually gets them into the story, but then they fall in love with the characters and remember the characters if they are good after. So, I suppose that’s how I think of stories as well, interesting plot first, then make them fall in love with the characters.
Q9: What are you working on now?
Chris: I’m working on our second detective novel, just the first draft, I’m in the research, plotting and character creation phase.
Sophie: Chris likes to stay one book ahead! I’m about to jump into our first detective book which explores the origin story of one of our characters from Isle of Chaos, Jane Hatch. Turns out she was a pirate turned detective in her early days. Should be a fun one!
Q10: What are you currently reading?
Chris: Headphones and Heartaches by Wesley Parker, I’m just about to start it, I’ve read his first one and it was amazing so looking forward to this one.
Sophie: I have two on the go. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig and Diary of a Shy Backpacker (part three) by Bruce Spydar.To find out more about Sophie and Chris Brousseau of Maple Lion Fiction follow the links below: