Lillie Leonardi’s interest in writing began nearly 40 years ago, focusing mainly on poetry and short stories. However, her professional career as an author did not begin until 2011, when she made the life-changing decision to leave law enforcement.
Leonardi’s background – a 25-year career in the FBI and local police departments – offers her readers a rare perspective into the world of law enforcement and supplies her writing with ample realism.
Her first book began as a journal that she was writing in order to cope with PTSD. After working as a first responder to the crash site of Flight 93 on 9/11, Leonardi began her struggle with guilt, fear and an inability to understand the horrific events of that day.
“To this day, I still don’t think I can do justice to what I saw on those first moments on that field,” Leonardi said.
Her journal grew with each passing day, and soon she noticed a resemblance between her journal and the standard novel format.
“As years progressed in writing, it looked like I was penning chapters,” Leonardi said.
With this revelation, Leonardi knew she had to share her story. After
recruiting some local help and gathering support from the Pittsburgh writing community, she independently published
In the Shadow of a Badge: A Memoir about Flight 93, a Field of Angels, and My Spiritual Homecoming. Soon the piece was brought to the national level when it was picked up by Word Association Publishers.
Leonardi credits Pittsburgh as having played a major role in her writing career. Not only did the massive Pittsburgh writing community support her and her works, but the city itself served as an inspiration.
“Just like in law enforcement, Pittsburgh is known for how we all connect and work well together,” Leonardi said.
For more information about Leonardi and her past and future pieces, check out her website.