The bestselling Australian Author, Journalist and Presenter Peter FitzSimons and I met at the Sydney Writers’ Festival in 2005.
I asked him for an interview for my monthly Writers magazine, which I was producing at that time. He agreed and asked me how good my German was. Then he told me about his book Tobruk, which he was working on. This is how my work for him started.
Peter FitzSimons kindly acknowledges me in his books.
Victory at Villers-Bretonneux: Why a French Town Will Never Forget the Anzacs, Penguin Random House Australia, 2016:
"Sonja Goernitz, meanwhile is a dual German-Australian citizen, who first started working with me for my book Tobruk in 2005. For this book, it was very useful that she was living back in Germany for most of the time I was writing it, enabling her to go in person to the many archives and libraries to find the material to bring to life the German experience at Villers-Bretonneux. Her ability to locate and then translate long slabs of German regimental histories, her understanding of the language and culture of the time was crucial to turning up fresh material for this account and fine-tuning it to accuracy."
Burke & Wills: The triumph and tragedy of Australia's most famous explorers, Hachette Australia, 2017:
"For the last decade I have relied heavily on a great team of researchers, and this book owes them as great a debt as ever. Mein Freund, Sonja Goernitz, a dual German-Australian citizen, was as useful als ever getting to the bottom of the German angle in this book, which is considerable, thanks to the strong German contingent who headed off with Burke."
Fromelles & Pozières: In the Trenches of Hell, Random House Australia (William Heinemann), 2015:
"Sonja Goernitz meanwhile is a dual German-Australian citizen, with whom I have worked for one good decade now. Starting with my book Tobruk in 2005. For this book too, not only her research and referencing skills and her familiarity with German history, culture and language were invaluable, but also her record keeping drive."
Gallipoli, Random House Australia (William Heinemann), 2014:
"Sonja Goernitz is a dual German-Australian citizen familiar with the highways and byways of German historical institutions, and she was able to return to her homeland to winkle out gems from the German side of the equation. She was tireless in her efforts, and I thank her."
Ned Kelly: The Story of Australia's most notorious Legend, Random House Australia (William Heinemann), 2013:
"Sonja Goernitz also had enormous input into this book, as with all of my last seven books, using her prodigious research skills to turn up treasure after treasure."
Eureka, Random House Australia (William Heinemann), 2012:
"Way back when I wrote my first book in 1990, Basking in Beirut, my dear friend at The Sydney Morning Herald, Harriet Veitch, gave me wise counsel on every part of it and did the preliminary editing. Well, now 22 years and 25 books later, she still is, and I value more than ever her input all things to do with the form and texture of this book. Similarly, I met my long-time researcher Sonja Goernitz at the Sydney Writers' Festival seven years ago, and when I found she was German-born I thought I could probably use her talents for, perhaps, a day or two as I researched and wrote Tobruk. She, too, has worked for me on every book since and has been invaluable in terms of general research for Eureka, most particularly on the parts of the story set in New South Wales."
Mawson and the Ice Men of the Heroic Age: Scott, Shackleton and Amundsen, Random House Australia (William Heinemann), 2011:
"I offer my deep appreciation to my long-time researcher Sonja Goernitz, who was a great help across the board."
A Simpler Time, HarperCollins, 2010:
"In terms of the overall book, I offer my warm thanks to my publisher Shona Martyn for her support of this project from first to last; my editor Mary Rennie for her indefatigable and highly skilled work; to Henry Barrkman, Harriet Veitch and Sonja Goernitz for their own expert advice and contributions to the structure and tone of the manuscript; and to my wife, Lisa Wilkinson, for doing what she always does – using her editing skills to make my books far better than they otherwise would be.
I hope you enjoy reading it."
Charles Kingsford Smith and Those Magnificent Men, Harper Collins, 2009:
"My long-time researcher Sonja Goernitz was a great help across the board, liaising with libraries, newspapers and museums around the globe, as well as using her won prodigious writing skills to give much salient advice as my manuscript took shape."
The Ballad of Les Darcy, HarperCollins, 2007:
"This is my eighteenth book, and by this time I have been blessed with a very good team of people helping me to put it together. My warm thanks go to my principal researcher, Sonja Goernitz, who was as indefatigable as ever in scouring the great institutions of our land for whatever treasures or traces of Darcy they might have, and extremely generous in sharing her writing instincts with me."
Tobruk, HarperCollins, 2006:
"From Australia, I particularly thank Sonja Görnitz, who was magnificent in organising my trip to her homeland of Germany, and putting her language skills at my disposal. Time and again I was not only calling upon her to translate particular documents – such as large chunks of reminiscences by Afrika Korps soldiers of the 8th Machine-gun Battalion in the book Nur ein Bataillon, and Hitler's Nuremberg Rally speech of 1938 – but also to use her extraordinary research and journalistic skills to isolate the things I was looking for, the illustrative nuggets that hopefully held the whole. While I did the preliminary interviews with Rolf Völker in Stuttgart, Sonja did the follow-up ones, and she – as a German of a younger generation – was constantly expressing amazement to me about the kinds of things she as hearing about for the first time. Questions that were normal for me to put to Rolf had always been tabu for her, just as I gather some of the answers he gave her were things rarely discussed in post-war Germany, and never by one who had fought in the war with one who had been raised to revile everything about it."