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Exclusive Interview "Rachel Karrington"

Author Rachel Karrington is a registered nurse and is a native of Newark, New Jersey. She relocated to Atlanta, Georgia in November of 2006 where she currently resides. She is the youngest of nine children, and the mother of two beautiful daughters that give her ceaseless love and support in her endeavors.

Rachel began writing at the age of 12 and was influenced by New York’s renowned television anchorman & documentary filmmaker, John Johnson, and late reporter and producer, Gil Nobel. She’s also been influenced by writers such as; Terry McMillian, the late Richard Wright, Maya Angelou, and James Baldwin.

Rachel’s first novel entitled; “Silence in a World Full of Thunder” was published December 13, 2016 with Archway Publishing.

Exclusive Interview

Can you please tell us a little about your debut book and the inspiration behind it?

“Silence in a World Full of Thunder” shares the story of a young woman’s poignant journey from the depths of darkness to the light of healing and hope as she attempts to move forward after she learns of her husband’s AIDS diagnosis. My husbands HIV/AIDS diagnosis in 1987 is the inspiration behind the book. My book is based on the real life issues I faced, but with fictional characters. It’s a testament of my life.

Why do you think it’s important to share your personal story with others?

After writing this book I discovered that I was protected from this disease for a reason, and that my purpose was to share my story, to help, and inspire others (especially other women). I feel we as women are more susceptible to the disease than men because we are emotional creatures looking to be loved. Women are very trusting at times which can make us very vulnerable in the sexual arena.

I believe, awareness, acknowledgement, and discussion are the keys to finding solutions to any problem that one is experiencing. Therefore, I take great pride in being able to share my story with you.

Although your partner tested positive for HIV/AIDS, you are negative. What was your first reaction when you found out? Did you ever consider leaving your husband after he informed you of his diagnosis?

Yes, my husband tested positive for HIV/AIDS in 1987. I was tested but I remain negative along with my children. When I found out I was scared, numb, confused, and in disbelief. This was a disease that we knew about but only through television and the radio. I never imagined that this disease would be a part of my household. There wasn’t a cure and the only quality of life was morbidity. It was a death sentence for anyone diagnosed. I was afraid I would get it, afraid my children would be orphans, and afraid that our family would be a part of the same statistics we saw in the media every week. My children and I had to be routinely tested. This made me very angry because we didn’t ask for this, and didn’t do anything to deserve this.

I never considered leaving my husband after he was diagnosed because I loved him. I didn’t feel he deserved to be abandoned by me just because he became sick. He didn’t ask to be sick and I felt I needed to be there for him.

What advice would you give to someone whose partner has just tested positive for HIV/AIDS?

The advice I would give to anyone with a partner/spouse infected with HIV/AIDS is: be honest with each other, know your partner’s sexual preferences & habits, get regular testing for the partner that is not infected, communicate with each other about your feelings, concerns, and fears. Seek counseling in order to cope with the physical and mental changes that HIV/AIDS can present. Lastly, be sure to learn how to protect your partner from contracting the disease via medications.

What do you think is the biggest misconception about living with HIV/AIDS?

The biggest misconception people have about HIV/AIDS is that it can’t happen to them because they may not be in a category such as being homosexual, or an IV drug user. However, in reality you never know who your partner/spouse has slept with in the past, what recreational habits they have, or what their sexual preferences were before you came along.

Has sharing your late husbands’ positive HIV status with the world had an impact on your current dating life?

Sharing my husband’s HIV/AIDS status used to impact my dating life in the beginning. Some guys were afraid to date me or get sexually involved. However, all of them appreciated my honesty for sharing the information with them so they could make an informed decision whether or not to proceed with dating me. Still, there were times I felt like poison or like I was forbidden fruit because of his status. I was constantly judged by others because of it. I had to learn to accept the things I could not change, and to be happy I was not infected. There was a lesson in this tragedy for me. I learned how important it is to practice safe sex (no matter how good the man looks) and to never take life for granted.

What do you think needs to happen to reduce the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS?

I don’t think the current stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS is like it was back in the 1980’s. Now we have more knowledge, better medical treatment, and more medications available. Patients and their partners can now live a happy, healthy life together. Being diagnosed is not a death sentence like it was back in the day. There is also medication available now to protect the negative partner from contracting the disease. Yes, the stigma does still exist. However, now patients can conquer the disease with proper medical treatment, counseling, and support groups to give them the encouragement needed to deal with the disease.

To combat the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS, I feel we need to continue to increase awareness, and educate everyone from children to the senior citizen population. We should encourage regular testing, and counseling, and keep working to discover new medications for patients, until a cure is found.

What is the main message that you hope readers will take away from your book?

My goal is to educate teens, women, and men on making mindful decisions in relationships. It is my mission to be an inspiration, to anyone that is struggling with life challenges. I would like to demonstrate to my readers that anyone can overcome their obstacles.

On a more personal note: Tell us a little about your “real” (non-writing) life — family, job, hobbies, etc.

I’m passionate about my writing, inspirational coaching, cooking, music, dance, and traveling. I was a violinist, and vocalist prior to my writing career. I’m currently a nurse and I volunteer for a non-profit organization called “Kate’s Kids” for children who have lost their parents due to death. I also have two beautiful daughters.

What did you learn about yourself after publishing your book?

After publishing my book I realized I was blessed that I did not look like the problems I encountered. I feel everything happens for a reason and the tragedy that struck my family made me a stronger woman. It made me the amazing woman I am today. I realized my integrity and my perseverance are my most powerful characteristics. My strength, spirituality, and resilience are my catalyst for making a change in my life for the better. My gift to the world is my voice through my writing. By hearing my story it can help someone else avoid the mistakes I made while dealing with my near exposure to HIV/AIDS.

Who is a creative person (not a writer) who has influenced you and your work?

I would have to say my mother. She influenced me the most. Her love, compassion, and her determination to give her children the best foundation and opportunities in life (whether it was spiritually, educationally, or providing/encouraging us training in the performing arts). Even though she had her own physical challenges she never complained or said, “Whoa is me!” She kept a smile on her face, a song upon her lips, and laughter was her anecdote for dealing with pain and disappointment. My mother showed courage when faced with trials, and made tremendous sacrifices for her family.

Do you plan on publishing any other books? Do you have any upcoming book signings, speaking engagements, or other events planned?

I am currently working on the sequel to “ Silence in a World Full of Thunder. I will also be conducting speaking engagements, and I will be involved in more HIV/AIDS events in the state of Georgia and beyond.

If you could send out a message to the general public about HIV and AIDS, what would that message be?

“No man is an island”, and regardless of your political views, denomination, or how strong one may feel they are spiritually there are times when we all need additional help from outside sources. Don’t be afraid to get help from the right sources, and surround yourself with the right circle of friends and associates that are positive, genuine, and supportive.

Silence in a World Full of Thunder

Sixteen-year-old Kanasia is thrilled when she and her mother, Samantha, move to a house in the suburbs of Mount Carmel, Illinois. As she eagerly anticipates life in a new home, Kanasia never anticipates the life-changing event that is about to occur.

When her mother suddenly suffers from a stroke and is sent to a nursing home to recover, Kanasia is left living with her abusive older brother and wondering if she will ever find her way out of the darkness of depression. When she meets an employee at the nursing home, everything begins to change for Kanasia as Zilas becomes her savior in a world of hurt, disappointment, and frustrations. But as he eventually becomes her husband, Kanasia’s roller coaster ride through life continues as she learns of his AIDS diagnosis. Now it is up to Kanasia to once again overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles, trust in God, and summon the strength to seek professional help.

Silence in a World Full of Thunder shares the story of a young woman’s poignant journey from the depths of darkness to the light of healing and hope as she attempts to move forward after personal tragedy.

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