Local author Barbara Lyons isn’t originally from Alliance, but when her husband accepted a job at the University of Mount Union, she quickly made Alliance and Mount Union her home.

Lyons was born in Mississippi, but she grew up in Southern California. She attended the University of California San Diego, where she received a degree in vocal performance. For Lyons, music has always been a part of her life. Along with singing, she plays the piano. Lyons attended the master’s program for ethnomusicology at Bethel University.

When Lyons’ husband, Dr. Ivory Lyons, was looking for a job, he applied to numerous institutions. He accepted a position as a professor in the philosophy and religious studies department at Mount Union. In 2000, the couple moved their family from California to Alliance. Shortly after her husband started teaching, she accepted a job as the administrative assistant for Chapman Hall.

"I think the move to Ohio was one of the best things that could have happened to us," Lyons said.

While Lyons’ passion has always been music, she has loved reading and writing as a creative outlet since she was in high school. While she didn’t pursue writing much until 2013, she chose to begin writing as a way to make extra money.

When she started, she had two separate novels going at once. After discussing both stories with a colleague, it was suggested that Lyons choose only one of the books to pursue, since writing both didn’t seem to be working.

"As much as I didn’t want to, I had to admit she was right," Lyons said.

Ultimately, Lyons chose to continue writing the book which has now been published. "Out of the Depths: The Jonson Chronicles Book One" is the first of seven in the series. Lyons began to write the series as a type of creative therapy and soon thought about it less as a way to earn money and more as a way for her to grow as a writer. 

"The desire to create income very quickly took a back seat to being a better writer," Lyons explained.

Lyons considers her book a romance novel since it tells the story of two main characters, Lettie and Bruce Jonson, as they deal with all parts of their marriage.

In the book, Bruce has just returned from Afghanistan. He battles post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) and fights to control the rage and anger he feels and fears. The story is told from Lettie’s perspective.

"Quite a bit comes from my own experience," Lyons said. "And then there’s a lot that comes from others’ experiences and then there’s your imagination."

Lyons’ father suffered from PTSD after returning from the Vietnam War. He retired from the military at the age of 36, but wasn’t diagnosed until he was in his mid-60s. Lyon’s used a lot of what she remembers and experienced as a teenager to assist with writing her book.

"I am a child of PTSD," she said. "I saw the realities and I saw the difficulties, especially in his last tour, that he wasn’t the same man, he was radically different."

When writing her book, Lyons wanted to give the audience a story that would capture their attention and pull them in. She wrote the book to be realistic and not sappy like many other romance novels are now. 

"The book is very gritty. It is very real," Lyons said. "It is up to date and it is timely."

While the first of the seven books in the series was published in May of this year, Lyon’s has six of the books completed. The writing process and the process to get the series published has been an eye opening one for Lyons. She has surrounded herself with a team of editors who assist in the revision process.

The first book was published by Dorrance Publishing Company located in Pittsburgh. Along with the marketing team provided by the company, Lyons has been doing a lot of the advertising by word of mouth for her first book.

Lyons is writing the novel under the pseudonym Antonia Harris. She believes by writing under a different name, it gives her the freedom to say what she wants and will allow people to read more closely and get more from what she is saying in the book.

Aside from writing her books and working at Mount Union, Lyons enjoys spending time with her husband, two children and two grandchildren as well as playing music and singing.