Author on why Wally’s book didn’t tell full story

 

The author of Wally Lewis's autobiography has defended his work despite revelations the happy marriage depicted in the book was on the brink of ending.

Lewis, 61, announced last week that he was in a new relationship after he and wife Jackie ended their 36-year marriage last year, which presented in contrast to the "blessed" relationship he wrote about with author Steve Haddan in his top-selling autobiography, My Life, released two months ago and dedicated to Jackie and their children.

Rumours since surfaced alleging that Lewis was involved in a long-term affair, which had allegedly damaged his relationship with Jackie three years ago as well as his relationship with his three children, whose voices are not heard in the book.

Veteran journalist and writer Steve Haddan with Wally Lewis. Picture: Lachlan Berlin.
Veteran journalist and writer Steve Haddan with Wally Lewis. Picture: Lachlan Berlin.

Neither Wally nor Jackie has commented on the allegations.

The autobiography, co-written and produced by Mr Haddan over three years, was released in early December and had sold more than 16,000 copies by January while a second print is due to arrive later this month.

In Australia any book that sells more than 10,000 copies is considered a bestseller.

Responding to questions about the representation of the marriage in the book, Mr Haddan said Lewis made him aware of marital difficulties late last year after they had approved and printed the book in September, and after the family's Birkdale home had been sold.

He said he saw only a "tremendously happy couple" during the lengthy writing process and "until recently a way forward was hoped for".

"The book was a gift to a couple who I greatly admired and they put a lot of energy into the production of that book," Mr Haddan said.

"You'd think you'd be able to see these things, (but) not a thing suggested to me until the book was on its way to Australia did Wally say, we're having a bit of trouble."

"It was their book, it was an authorised biography. It wasn't about dredging up things that they didn't want to talk about, and I had no reason to think there was anything."

"Ultimately I can only provide in the book the information that I was given. Nothing would indicate to me there was anything wrong with the Lewis marriage."

‘I can only do what they ask me to do’: Author Steve Haddan. Picture: Steve Pohlner
‘I can only do what they ask me to do’: Author Steve Haddan. Picture: Steve Pohlner

In My Life, Lewis wrote effusively about the importance of his family, describing how he was "blessed" to be married to Jackie and detailing how he "leant heavily on her" during his high profile health battles, adding that he didn't know what he would do without her.

Jackie also contributed a chapter of the book.

Revelations two months later that the couple had separated last year and sold their marital home prior to the book's release prompted an online backlash with one reader commenting that they had thrown their copy away as it was "out of date now with a missing chapter" while another wrote they wanted a refund because they "now have a book of BS".

Others said they wouldn't purchase or read the book "on principal" and because it was "hypocritical".

One of the two reviews on Booktopia reads: "I got Wally's book the day it was released, and read every page, even cried in a couple of spots and was so happy he lived with a loving family. However a month later I learnt Wally & Jackie have been separated for 12mths, why did you not mention this?"

Jackie and Wally Lewis posing at a Broncos function in 2019. Picture: Josh Woning.
Jackie and Wally Lewis posing at a Broncos function in 2019. Picture: Josh Woning.

Mr Haddan responded saying, "it wasn't a choice they made".

He added that while he had not personally seen the online comments and stood by the book's integrity, he was "disappointed that people feel that way".

"Maybe the information about any trouble they were having might have been communicated to me a little bit earlier, yes. I could only do what they ask me to do," he said.

"Ultimately the public will evaluate, not Facebook trolls, the integrity of the book."

"My intention was to bring into focus the great things Wally did in the community, the great support of his wife and … the extraordinary resonance that he had with Queenslanders."

"I think the book has been celebrated as a wonderful book but very sadly after the book has been published the marriage has ended and I feel deeply sorry and deeply saddened that their marriage has come to an end."

 

 

 

 

Originally published as Author on why Wally's book didn't tell full story