Born in Wagga Wagga, Carlon lived in Sydney from an early age. When she was eleven she became profoundly deaf, but still completed her education. Carlon wrote short stories, serials and novels and published under various pseudonyms. (Much of her pseudonymous work was in the romantic fiction genre.) Carlon had difficulty finding an Australian publisher for her crime and thriller novels, but fourteen of these works were published in England between 1961 and 1970. In the late 1990s, Carlon's thrillers were picked up by the American crime publisher, Soho Press and seven of them were republished. Her work has also been translated into seven languages. In 2002, Carlon's novels were relaunched in Australia by Text Publishing, beginning with the publication of Crime of Silence.
Carlon's pseudonym 'Patricia Bernard' was used for articles only and is not to be confused with the Australian children's writer of the same name. The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature mistakenly lists another of Carlon's pseudonyms as P. Scot Bernard, but this also applies to the children's writer.
The Patricia Carlon collection at the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center in Boston contains manuscripts and printed material pertaining to Carlon.