Libby Harkness - Writer, Biographer, Ghostwriter

 

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Professional History

New Zealand-born Libby Harkness has lived and worked as a journalist, editor, sub editor and writer in Australia for more than 40 years. After starting out as a news journalist, Libby moved to trade and professional publications covering a range of fields including travel, hospitality, retail, pharmacy, medical and pharmaceutical.

Libby wrote her first published books in the 1980s but came to public notice in the 1990s with the publication of her seminal work on adoption reunion, Looking for Lisa (Random House 1991) and the first book on cosmetic plastic surgery published in Australia, Skin Deep (Random House 1994) – a well-researched work that looked at all aspects of body alteration. Libby began ghostwriting memoirs about 20 years ago, filling what she saw as a growing demand in the market as more people wanted to tell their stories for publication or to document them for family posterity.

In 2013, Libby was on a panel at the first international conference of ghostwriters in Long Beach, California. She was one of only three international delegates. Although growing, the number of full-time ghostwriters world-wide is still very small. Many writers and journalists supplement their income from other sources by writing the occasional memoir but Libby is still one of the few full-time ghostwriters in Australia.

Behind the published stories of most celebrities, sports stars and actors is a ghostwriter, and while most remain invisible some in-demand writers like Libby do receive cover attribution.

Libby does not call herself a co-writer which could suggest that two people share the writing. Libby is the writer; she acts as a conduit for the story-teller’s (or author’s) voice giving the narrative structure, readability and ‘life’.

If you would like to talk to Libby, she has compiled a helpful guide of things to consider before you make contact.

 

Most recent book

Life Sentence – a police officer’s battle with PTSD. How Simon Gillard’s dream job turned into a nightmare.

From the moment two police officers walked into his primary school to give a talk, Simon Gillard knew he wanted to be a policeman. He began as a bright young probationary constable with a great sense of humour and passion for the job. But as his career began to build, so too did the number of cases he worked on, from high-profile murder investigations to paedophile rings, suicides – even to the investigation of a fellow officer.
As the cases mounted, Simon started to suffer panic attacks, drink heavily and have unrelenting nightmares. He sought help but was encouraged to just ‘go back to work’ and ended up making four attempts on his own life. He was later formally diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and invalided out of the force.
In this powerful memoir, Simon reveals the details of the cases he worked on, how the police force operates, and how one man’s life can spiral so out of control. He is now working to create awareness about PTSD and has written this book with Libby Harkness to help other sufferers. Published by Penguin Random House May 2017.

Other recently published works:

Confessions of a Qantas Flight Attendant. – true tales and gossip from the galley. A rip-roaring account of one man’s years of flying around the world. Owen Beddall dishes the dirt in hilarious stories from the air and from the various ports the airline flies to. His acerbic wit, bold and brassy observations, and never-before revealed inside information on the workings of an international airline will give the reader a buckle-up your seat-belt journey. Globally released by Random House 2014.
Note: Owen Beddall died suddenly in Melbourne in May 2016. He was 41.

Everything to Live For. The story of Turia Pitt, the beautiful 25-year-old mining engineer who suffered catastrophic burns to 65 per cent of her body in a bush fire while competing in an ultramarathon in the remote Kimberley region in Western Australia. The story of Turia’s hours-long wait for help with the other survivors is traumatic; her heroic rescue by a young helicopter pilot is riveting; but its Turia’s survival against all odds that is most remarkable and her battle to live with her life-changing injuries is inspirational. A subsequent WA Government inquiry made damning findings of failure by the international organisers of the event. The company reached an out-of-court settlement with Turia in 2014. Everything to Live For was published by Random House in 2013.

The Widow, with Nola Duncan. A real life story of betrayal of love and trust; how one woman’s view of her long and happy marriage was shattered following the terrible discovery one year after her husband’s death - a cache of 741 love letters between her husband, a renowned scientist and his doctoral student, that had gone on for many years. (Published by Random House in 2013.)

 

Who’s in control of your brain? International business consultant and entrepreneur Julian Fairfield puts forward his theories about how our brain works in modern society. Julian’s provocative ideas will help people understand themselves and make sense of the cultures they live in and society as a whole. Julian’s book was published in multi-media platforms in 2017.

 

Some heart warming commissions

The Promise – a father’s diary of loss and love. The Melbourne businessman, Patrick Tessier’s story about the loss of his two-year-old son, Bailey, to a brain tumour in 2004. After Bailey’s death, Patrick set up the charitable foundation Bailey’s Day which to date has raised more than $2mil to train paediatric oncologists for the Monash Children’s Cancer Centre and to fund research into childhood brain cancers. Published privately in 2014.

 

Attitude is free; it’s not all about me. The inspirational story of Hawk Vagg, a strapping Queensland sheep and cattle farmer who became a quadriplegic in 1998 at age 38 after a tractor accident. This is his moving, at times confronting and often humorous journey of Hawk’s determination to regain independence and provide for his young family from a wheelchair. Hawk became an outspoken activist and advocate for people with disabilities and is now a sought-after motivational speaker and lectures on workplace safety. To be self-published in 2017.

Libby’s current commission

Libby is currently working on the memoirs of an internationally renowned event organiser.

 

 


       

 

Books Libby has authored and other work

 


Birth: Where & How NSW
and Birth: Where & How Vic
(Horan,Wall & Walker 1986 editions, Universal 1988 editions)

Looking for Lisa (Random House 1991)

Skin Deep (Doubleday 1994)

Everything You Need to Know About Cosmetic Surgery
(with Sandra Farren, Key Porter Books, Canada 1994)

The Australian Guide to Cosmetic Surgery
(Coulomb Communications 2004)

Among Libby's private commissions are some notable medically-associated works, including editing Babies for Ladies, the 1987 autobiography of Australia's pioneering obstetrician, the late Professor Bruce Mayes and, in 2006, writing the biography of Dr Toby Barton, grandson of Australia's first Prime Minister, Sir Edmund Barton. She has co-written two books with a leading Australian cosmetic surgeon, the first published in 2005 and the second in 2010. She was also commissioned to write the biography of Sydney actress, Barbara Joss, and her successful battle with breast cancer, My Left Breast (self-published by Joss in 1999). In 2008 Libby wrote My IVF Journey for a young Sydney woman, documenting her (eventually) successful struggle to become pregnant with a longed-for baby (published privately for family).

Some press review comments on Looking for Lisa :

"… I would like to congratulate you on a very fine piece of work… you articulate the experience of adoption with great compassion and sensitivity and encourage the reader to gain a very intimate insight into the pain and joy of relinquishment and contact…"
R. Wilson, Department for Family and Community Services (SA)

"...an honest, blunt, and open insight into the lives of six relinquishing mothers who nursed their heartache in silence for so long." Canberra Times

"…a journey into the turmoil and grief, as well as the relief and joy, that only adoption can bring." The Evening Post (NZ)

Some reviews on Skin Deep:

"...do nothing until you read Skin Deep, Australia's first consumer guide to cosmetic surgery." Vogue Australia

"...take a look at this very thorough, practical book. The book is completely non-judgemental." Slimming Magazine

 

 

  © Copyright 2013 Libby Harkness - Writer for Hire. All Rights Reserved. Sydney Australia.