Barnett was born and raised in Dorchester, Boston, where she attended Girls' Latin School (now Boston Latin Academy). She had two sisters and a brother. She graduated from the University of Massachusetts Boston with a bachelor's degree in English, and was a member of the Piscataqua Obedience Club, a volunteer with EPONA (Equine Protection of North America) and senior editor at Heinemann in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. She worked at Baker's Plays before being hired as an editor at Heinemann Publishing in 1988.
All co-authored with Melissa Scott:
- Barnett, Lisa A.; Scott, Melissa (1988). The Armor of Light. Baen Books. ISBN 978-0-671-69783-9.
- Barnett, Lisa A.; Scott, Melissa (1995). Point of Hopes: A Novel of Astreiant. Lethe Press. ISBN 978-1-59021-312-4.
- Barnett, Lisa A.; Scott, Melissa (2001). Point of Dreams: A Novel of Astreiant. Lethe Press. ISBN 978-1-59021-313-1. 2001 winner of the Lambda Literary Award for science fiction, fantasy and horror
- The Carmen Miranda Gambit (1990)
- Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014. Social Security Administration.
- Sakers, Don (2006-05-04). "Lisa A. Barnett". Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Archived from the original on 2007-08-22. Retrieved 2014-11-12.
- Stickgold, Emma (2006-05-07). "Lisa A. Barnett, fiction writer who created worlds of fantasy". Boston.com. Retrieved 2007-03-16.