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Connie Johnson, along with her brother Sam, wrote the memoir Love Your Sister, published by Hachette Australia in October 2014. Publisher Vanessa Radnidge pays tribute.
The brave, feisty, fabulous, much-loved Connie Johnson died on Friday, 8th September.
Many of us at Hachette Australia were lucky enough to meet Connie and to work with her when she wrote the bestselling book LOVE YOUR SISTER with her brother Sam. We got to see her smile up close, and the cheeky glint in her eye when she thought of a way to one-up Sam! Helping Connie publish her story was one of those magical publishing moments that we cherish. Her father had been a writer and a bookseller. Her mother a poet. Words, creativity and books are part of the Johnson DNA. A voracious reader, Connie loved reading our authors' books. She became friends with Favel Parrett and Brooke Davis after connecting with them through their work. The happiness Connie felt when she held her own book was electric.
When Connie was told her third cancer was going to take her life she got angry. She was terrified to say goodbye to her young sons and worried they wouldn't remember her. She decided that she would make her death mean something and she would use her story and her brother's acting fame to try and stop other women having to say goodbye to the people they love.
But even with her steely determination firing, Connie could never have dared dream of the things she would end up doing and what she would achieve. With Sam, and the mighty Village they have built, Connie raised over seven million dollars for cancer vanquishment. I guarantee that figure will increase markedly in the coming weeks. If you would like to donate to that fight against cancer or leave a tribute for Connie, you can go to loveforconnie.org
Hachette Australia Joint Managing Directors Justin Ractliffe and Louise Sherwin-Stark have, on behalf of everyone at Hachette, pledged a $5000 donation to LOVE YOUR SISTER in Connie’s honour. A portion of every book sold will also contribute to cancer research.
Connie Johnson was a truly unique and very special woman. She was smart, honest, wickedly funny, focused and determined. The day before she died she was awarded the Medal of The Order Of Australia, acknowledging her relentless fight against breast cancer. Connie won so many hearts all around Australia and was indeed Australia's favourite sister.
Cancer is evil and Connie danced with that evil a long time. Her spirit and the love of her boys kept her alive much longer than anyone thought possible. At times I think some of us thought she'd keep dodging its grasp and never give in. But finally her body couldn't fight any longer and that bastard cancer took her.
We are all better for knowing Connie Johnson. And it is up to all of us to keep her spirit alive. But the one thought that gives me comfort is knowing that because of her fight her boys, like the rest of Australia, will always remember their mum. And if ever Hamilton or Willoughby need reminding the whole of Australia will be there to tell them how awesome their mum was and how much she loved them.
Vale, Connie Johnson. Godspeed.