Interview with Leanne Owens
Author of Muted
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How would you describe 'Muted' to a new reader?
- It is difficult to describe because the book is so many things to different readers. It is about one Australian man versus the might of a U.S. pharmaceutical company, and it is about a man who doesn't speak whose words still make the world a better place, and it's a love story between two highly intelligent opponents who find themselves in their growing friendship, and it's a story about horses, as well as the battle between corporate greed and all that is right. It has suspense, tragedy, humour, romance, friendship, love, surprises, science...it's a big read that defies a small description - it is a journey to a better place in your life.
To what extent is 'Muted' based on your own experiences?
- My knowledge of horses is in 'Muted', since I breed, show, and judge horses in Australia, and have spent most of my sixty years around them, but it isn't 'just a horse book' - it's a case of: if you like horses, you'll love the knowledge in the book, if you don't like horses, you'll still enjoy the book. I've been moved by several tragic suicides in this last massive Australian drought where landowners were forced to shoot all their own stock rather than have them starve to death, and then, in despair, they turned the gun on themselves... the Prologue is, in part, an acknowledgment to lives lost this way, and one of the messages in the book is to always keep going, no matter what. I guess my own belief in what is good and right comes through in many of the things Lane says and does, and my view that a good relationship is one that empowers the people in it is evident in the relationships between the characters. Perhaps my 'experiences' are not in the book as much as my experience.
Is 'Muted' popular with people who aren't interested in horses?
- Absolutely - it's not just a horse book, it's a romantic suspense that happens to have horses in it. The horses are partly there as a symbol of some of the things that are wrong with this world - how the man who runs the pharmaceutical company puts himself and his company's profits ahead of all else, including his daughter and the welfare of the horses that are necessary for the production of that drug.
You make good use of locations in the book – there’s a real sense of place. Are these locations significant for you?
- The locations include outback Queensland, the U.S., and Austria - the outback is the only place I've lived, or even visited, but the other locations are significant. I am fascinated by the U.S. and there is such a contrast between the land far from cities and the sidewalks of the concrete jungles - and I found both places resonated with me. Then to Austria, home to the Spanish Riding School and the magnificent Rauris Valley, where friends have visited and loved, but I have only dreamed of. It was a great compliment when an Austrian reader wrote to say how much she loved my descriptions of her country and was very surprised that I could describe it so well without having been there.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors? How would you advise a new author about traditional publishing versus self publishing?
- My advice is to write, write, write, edit, edit, edit (a dozen repeats on the edit), use an editor, get a good cover, write a good blurb, publish, and repeat, repeat, repeat.
I would love to be picked up by a traditional publisher BUT I enjoy the control of self-publishing. I write what I want to, publish as soon as it's ready and move on. There are so many great indie authors these days, that if you can write really great books repeatedly, you have a chance of success.
Which authors do you most admire? Which qualities, in particular, have influenced your writing?
- I admire so many authors, but I guess one of my favourites, whom I admire the most, writes in a genre that I don't write in - sci-fi/fantasy. Lindsay Buroker consistently produces great reads that are well written, so I admire her. I think the quality of hers that has influenced me is to just keep writing and keep producing.
Muted is a thrilling read, a real page turner. How important was it to you to write with pace and energy?
- I love a book that keeps me reading and wanting to know what is coming, and which delivers surprises. It's made me so happy to read the reviews from the U.S. readers (I'm Australian, so I don't know these readers) and see that they are finding Muted to be a book they can't put down. I don't like boring predictable books, and I'm glad Muted is not predictable - some of the unexpected twists are impossible to foretell.
If 'Muted' were to be adapted for TV or film, who would you see in the lead role? Who did you have in your mind’s eye when you wrote him/her?
- The role of the outback horseman who doesn't speak would have to be played by my young friend, Cal (on Facebook as 'barefootbrother-Callum Snell') It was in a late night discussion with Cal, after he'd returned from Canada working with the horses on the movie The Revenant (with Leonardo DiCaprio) that he said he'd like to get in front of the cameras for a change, but didn't want to speak. I said, "Easy - I'll write a book about an amazing horseman who doesn't speak, then you have that part and you won't have any lines to say." And I wrote the book. If you're wondering what Lane is like, just find Cal on Facebook, or Google up some of his photos - he's a horse trainer and stuntman and is nearly always with horses.
How have readers responded to Muted?
- There have been just over 50 genuine reviews since it was released in November of 2018 - I don't do any review swaps or 'pay for reviews', so they're all from genuine readers. They're all five star except for two, and the reviews are beautiful - I'm so glad the readers 'get' this book.
Where next? What are you working on now?
- I've since published 'Zo' - a time-travel suspense romance book - another big stand-alone book that crosses a few genres and is hard to describe except to say, "It's a great read". I'm currently jumping genres and writing an action/mystery/suspense with more great, witty, sassy, intelligent, female leads, and then there are about ten more novels to write before I start thinking, "What should I think of now?" I like page turners in different genres that bring something to the reader.
Lane Dimity, an outback horseman who doesn't speak, clashes with New York lawyer, Karen Lawford, who's forgotten how to feel. Between them lies the fate of the 1,200 horses bred by her family's pharmaceutical company for the production of a revolutionary drug that will change the world.
'Muted' takes you on a rollercoaster of emotions, beginning with the tragic events on Lane's eighth birthday that silenced his voice, and climbing to heights of humour, inspiration, and enlightenment as you share the private moments of friendship with Lane, his friends, and Karen. It is a tale of self-discovery and empowerment for Karen, a journey of friendship and love for Lane, and a welcome escape from the world for the reader.