An Interview with Lillie Leonardi: Author
Sylvia: Hi Lillie, it is such a pleasure to interview you. After reading your bio, I am impressed with your professional background. Please give our readers a brief introduction of yourself and a little about your book.
Lillie: Thank you Sylvia. Well, after serving for 25 years and as a result of medical issues related to my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) diagnosis, I retired from the law enforcement profession and now pursue my lifetime passion for writing.
From 1998 to 2010, I was employed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Pittsburgh Division; as a Community Affairs Coordinator. During my tenure with the FBI, my primary focus was related to the topic of violence prevention.
At the time, I also worked under the auspice of the United States Attorney’s Office, Western Dis trict of Pennsylvania and served with a prestigious group of instructors who provided training on various subjects including: Community Policing, Crime Prevention, Cultural Diversity, Hate Crimes, and Responding to a Major Incident, Threat Assessment and Violence Reduction Techniques; as well as other related topics.
During 9-11 and in the days that followed, I was utilized by the FBI to address the many representatives from the law enforcement and government agencies assisting with evidence recovery and preparations for two Flight 93 memorial services. Moreover, I not only served as primary liaison to the United Airlines Humanitarian Response Team, interacting with surviving family members, but also was the lead representative authorized to bring surviving family members to the crash site location for Flight 93 memorial services.
Prior to my career with the FBI, I worked as the lead law enforcement officer on two college campuses located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I was appointed the first female chief of police for Chatham University (1994) and the Director of Security for Carlow University (1992). In 1984, I was selected to serve as the first female police officer with the City of Arnold, Pennsylvania. While employed with the police department, I specialized in crimes against children investigations and crime prevention.
Sylvia: Wow, interesting! What inspired you to write?
Lillie: Although I had written for almost 40 years, I had never shared my compositions with others outside my immediate family and close circle of friends. Most of what I had authored was poems and short stories. In the mid-1990‘s, I wrote my first book. It was a compilation of poems which I penned for over 20 years. At that time, I did nothing with it on a professional basis. The draft of the book still sits on a shelf in my bedroom closet.
When first I wrote the initial two chapters of “In the Shadow of A Badge/A Spiritual Memoir”, I did so in response to the deep-seeded fear dwelling inside my soul. It lived there as if it had a mind of its’ own and a heartbeat which breathed life into too. The fear I was feeling was an automatic response to my declining health. I feared losing all of the details of 9/11 and the post days. If I forgot these important facts, who would then know about the angelic visitation?
As the effects of PTSD, depression set in, anxiety flared and my mind became a convoluted version of its’ own design. My mind now seemed to reflect the image of a complex puzzle with the many pieces scattered across the landscape of my once finely tuned mind. I was afraid of all which was taking place and felt as if the real me no longer existed. I had lost control of the issues surrounding me. So, in order to preserve the story of 9/11 and the Angels who presented themselves at the Flight 93 crash site, I removed myself from the pain and authored the pages about the celestial beings. These two chapters were written in 2002 and it would take another eight (8) years to complete the entire manuscript.
Sylvia: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Lillie: There are several messages detailed as part of my story. First and foremost, I wanted to give testimony of God’s presence on 9/11. It is the critical element of the book and was important for me to convey this to the reader. Secondly, I wanted to bear witness to all that the angels arrived at the Flight 93 crash site to care for those who had sacrificed their lives and for all of humanity as well. I wanted to express my heartfelt sentiment to the surviving family members who lost loved ones onboard Flight 93. Also, the historical content of the events of 9/11 and post were noteworthy in being told as well. I didn’t want the significant details to be lost. And, the book was written to aid others to heal from the traumatic events of 9/11 and those afflicted with PTSD.
Sylvia: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Lillie: Follow your passion in pursuit of your life’s purpose and dreams. Allow yourself to believe in all of the possibilities.
Sylvia: What marketing techniques have you used to sell your books and which ones have been most successful.
Lillie: In conjunction with my business manager, we developed a strategic marketing plan. We split the tasks between us based on our expertise. The marketing techniques were varied to include; a book launch, the media and social networking sites. However, the most effective marketing tool to date has been networking with our mutual contacts and requesting their help in building a nexus and spreading the word about my book.
Sylvia: Why should we buy your book?
Lillie: If the reader is in need of an inspirational story to raise their hope, then my book is the perfect fit. Based on the feedback I have received from readers, I have been told the story is enlightening and resonates with their own.
Sylvia: Is there a special place that you prefer when you write?
Lillie: Although I spend much of my time writing in my home located in southwestern Pennsylvania, I much prefer to write by the ocean along the crystal coastline of North Carolina. When I visit the sea, my entire being is calm and I can hear the voices of the Angels (my muses) much better.
Sylvia: Wow, I bet! What projects are you currently working on?
Lillie: I’m preparing the second book of the trilogy for publishing. It is entitled; “My Life in Black and White with a Smidgen of Blue.” This book is also a narrative non-fiction which picks up on my story where the first book left off. Also, I’m working on a children’s book series titled, “A Force of Nature.” And, I enjoy helping other novice female authors on their quest to become published. It gives me great joy to provide support to other women as they endeavor to achieve their dreams. It also helps me to build my network as well.
Sylvia: What is your power word?
Lillie: My power word is an old term for God. I frequently invoke Him by saying, “Elohim.”
Sylvia: Why this word?
Lillie: Invoking God reminds me to give thanks for the many blessings in my life. When I utter Elohim, it allows me to embrace the source of my internal power.
Sylvia: Lillie, it’s been a pleasue. I thoroughly enjoyed interviewing you. How can my readers contact you?
Lillie: Thank you. My contact is as follows:
Lillie’s Book Review