Jam-packed with secrets, modern romance and mystery, The Patterson Girls deals with the big issues that keep us all wondering – grief, belonging, complex family dynamics, the heartbreak of infertility and adult relationships that are not as black and white as they once were.
The Patterson Girls is a warm, contemporary, topical and intriguing story about four very different sisters, who live very different lives in Melbourne, Perth, London and Baltimore. Six months after the sudden death of their beloved mother, the girls return home for Christmas at their family motel in a small town just out of Port Augusta, South Australia. The motel teeters on the edge of neglect, as their grieving dad struggles to cope alone, contemplating selling the family business.
Each of the girls has a lot to get away from, and they bring their worries home. Abigail is hiding the fact she has been sacked from the orchestra in London, Lucinda is drenched with worry about why she's still not fallen pregnant, Charlie feels unimportant and inferior beside her overachieving sisters and Madeline's life is so high pressure at the hospital that she hasn't taken a break in years.
Together the girls look forward to comforting their father and reconnecting after so long apart. But amongst their mother's things they discover a frightening family secret that has a cataclysmic effect. They are forced to make a big, brave decision.
With a surprising twist in its tale The Patterson Girls is an accomplished foray into a bold new fiction style that Rachael Johns calls contemporary life lit.
Find out Which Pattersons Girl Are you with this quiz: http://bit.ly/PattersonQuiz
Rachael Johns' success is a testament to her skill as a writer, but also to her ability to really connect with her readers. A fiction writer since she was seventeen, Rachael was signed by Harlequin in an enviable five-book deal in 2012 and since then her sales in Australia have tripled and she is published internationally. The Patterson Girls is Rachael Johns' seventh book with Harlequin.
Voted one of Booktopia's Top Ten Favourite Australian authors after the publication of her first book Jilted, Rachael is a mum of three small boys, a supermarket worker by day and a bestselling writer by night. She lives in a small town in Western Australia.
The Patterson Girls
Author: Rachael Johns
Question: What inspired you to write The Patterson Girls?
Rachael Johns: Would you believe it was an invasive weed? The Patterson Girls started its life as Paterson's Curse, inspired by what I thought were paddocks of beautiful purple flowers but farmer friends told me were actually a weed poisonous to livestock and can have a detrimental impact on crop production. The word curse got me thinking about what the story would be about, the sisters were born and it progressed from there.
Question: Are the characters based on anyone you know?
Rachael Johns: While I don't consciously mirror any of my creations on real life or real people, I'm inspired by everyday life and ordinary people dealing with universally emotional issues. Each of the sisters are probably a combination of myself – good and bad – and people I know, but not one is specifically based on a particular person. Saying that, in The Patterson Girls, I did for the first time include a character that is very similar to someone who used to come into our family business. You'll have to guess who!
Question: How much of your inspiration comes from real life and real people?
Rachael Johns: Each book I write has a different level of inspiration from real life. In Outback Blaze, the crux of the story was directly inspired by a real life shop fire at my husband's place of work. The Patterson Girls is definitely inspired by the issues women and thus friends and family of mine go through in their decision whether or not to have children and what happens after that. I believe all my books deal with real life issues – such as love, grief, hope, sadness, fear – and emotions that I myself have felt or have seen those close to me experience.
Question: There are several issues raised in this book. Was this deliberate or did the story evolve this way?
Rachael Johns: It definitely evolved in this way. When I set out to write a book dealing with a family curse, all I knew is that one sister would be having marriage issues and difficulties conceiving. The other issues – such as grief, infidelity, single parenthood, etc – came as the story idea developed.
Question: What advice do you have for aspiring writers or artists?
Rachael Johns: Read lots – in the genre you want to write in but also outside it. Join an organization in which you'll meet other people who also have the same passions and dreams as you. For me this was Romance Writers of Australia (www.romanceaustralia.com) – joining RWA was the turning point for me and my writing. And finally, just write!! So many people say they want to write a book but don't actually make the time to do so.
Interview by Brooke Hunter