By Emerald Wright-Collie
Special to The Tribune
Meadville attorney Barbara Mountjoy always knew what she was passionate about in life and she followed her instinct even when it led to a change in course.
The result is a very full life — countless clients helped, 16 books published and seven kids grown or on the way there.
Mountjoy attended Kent State University after high school. She majored in journalism, graduating in 1978, and plunged into a career as a journalist.
Her then-husband’s service in the Air Force meant a move to Florida, where Mountjoy became a reporter for the South Dade News Leader.
While on the job, one assignment came along and completely changed her career path. Mountjoy had to cover an attorney named Joe Tomassi for a city beat. “He was a city attorney, and I would hang out in his office and gather information. He and his wife looked out for me and I would consider him my mentor,” Mountjoy said.
One day while on the job covering Tomassi for the city beat, he advised Mountjoy that she would make a good lawyer. That one piece of advice lingered. “Writing stories was always fun,” she recalled, “but I wanted to help people more than just writing. At the time I felt like I wanted to do more to help people.”
Law school soon became apart of her future.
At that point, she was a single parent of two children, ages 3 and 5, and she was ready to take a leap in a new direction. The University of Miami Law School “was the closest and I could afford it. My kids and I both went to school during the day and it just all fell in place,” she recalled.
After graduating in 1986 Mountjoy decided to return to her home region. She did not feel safe in the city — “it was dangerous in South Florida,” she recalled.
She moved back to Pennsylvania, took the Bar Exam and began practicing in ‘92.
But the writing was always there in one form or another. “I kind of always dabbled in writing even after I went to school. I would join community groups as the public relations person of the group,” she recalled.
About five years ago she got the urge to make writing a daily part of her life and not long after she published her first novel, “The Elf Queen,” in 2010. The fantasy novel is based on a twist to a traditional Cinderella story. “It starts out with a woman who finds a glass slipper she tries it on and it cuts her foot, the blood drips everywhere and all the men hide,” Mountjoy said.
After she published her first novel, books began spewing from the fountain of her imagination. Since her first book published, Mountjoy has published 16 books to this day under the pen names Lyndi Alexander for the science fiction, fantasy and paranormal titles, and Alana Lorens for romance and romantic suspense titles.
Her most recent novel — released in October — is “Voodoo Dreams,” the third book in her Pittsburgh Lady Lawyer series. In this series, each book stands alone from the other.
“The heroine of each is a lawyer who is a woman practicing in the City of Pittsburgh” Mountjoy explained. “It revolves around her life and her practice as it affects how her life develops and unfolds.”
While writing the books in the Pittsburgh Lady Lawyer Series, Mountjoy says she learned more and more with each one published. The most recent book in the series involves New Orleans and incorporates the traditions of the city. “I learned a lot about voodoo because it is set in New Orleans. It seems to be a very interesting topic and I was excited,” Mountjoy said.
Even while publishing books, Mountjoy still practices family law in addition to being a mother. Mountjoy has seven kids in total — two at home, one in ninth grade and one in 10th. She writes a little every day.
“Writing gives me a sense of satisfaction. My legal career touches different lives and helps people through different things,” she said, but “being a mom is like no other. I’m blessed that I have three different jobs that I love.”
Emerald Wright-Collie is studying journalism at Allegheny College.