Donna Carter-Henry lived the most unimaginable life for six years. With hopes of spreading awareness by sharing her story, Carter-Henry has written about that horrific time in her life in her first published book, BL African American Concubine in Clinton.
Growing up in Pennsylvania, Carter-Henry was the oldest of three children. She was raised by her mother and grandmother. She says she grew up singing in the church, as well as at other social events and ,as all girls do, she dreamed of the day she would marry. Carter-Henry says that marriage was anything but the fairy-tale dream.
The story, she shared during an exclusive interview with The Sampson Independent earlier this month, is about an extremely religious, African-American, middle-aged woman who lived a life of polygamy as the second wife of a polygamous, Pentecostal preacher. According to Carter-Henry, this was her life from 2004-2010, when she finally decided to leave her husband.
“I got the idea to write this book from my own life,” Carter-Henry shared. “I was living this on a day to day basis, with a man I refer to in this book as B.L. I was living this. It was my life, every day. I thought, or rather I knew, it would be interesting to other people.”
Carter-Henry’s story took place over the span of six years and is based on the her true story, which is part of a larger book, Chronicles of a Concubine, Part I. According to the author, her husband took her in off the street and seduced her into a lifestyle of polygamy, with a secret marriage that turned into what she referred to as a very bad situation.
“Things were pretty good until they started to go bad,” Carter-Henry pointed about about her relationship in the beginning with her preacher husband. “When he finally realized he couldn’t hide me anymore, that’s when things went bad. He had to always pretend I wasn’t somebody.”
While many people may not believe something like Carter-Henry’s story could happen in America, much less in Sampson County, Carter-Henry said she hopes those who read her book take away the knowledge they need to live a happy life.
“I hope my readers gain the knowledge that there are many different kinds of people and lifestyles out there,” Carter-Henry shared. “You can’t trust everyone just because they go by the name or title of reverend.”
Carter-Henry, who says she loves writing, has been doing so since she was 7 years old.
“I remember my maternal grandmother helping me write a poem when I was seven, living in north Philly,” Carter-Henry said. “I knew then that I liked to make words rhyme and I could sing, so I became a poet and song writer.”
Deep inside, she said, writing a book was always a passion, but at the age of 12, not having lived a full life, the young writer said she knew putting her thoughts to paper was possible.
“Then, as my life took its subtle twists and turns, and I began to realize just how crazy it was and that my life was either a great melody or a horrible tragedy, I began thinking about telling my story,” she acknowledged.
From that thought, Carter-Henry said she began talking and sharing the horrible experiences she has been dealt, the words a therapy of their own as she relived them as she wrote.
“I began writing and in the process this B.L. African American Concubine in Clinton was the snag in my story,” she said. “I knew I had to tell it before anything, although it was only a part of the story.”
While this is Carter-Henry’s only published book to date, she says she has written several other books, including a book of poetry, a children’s book and the story of Sampson County native the Rev. Dr. James F. Butler Sr., who is a friend. The published author says she plans to write many more books to share with the world.
“I plan on continuing to write for as long as God gives me strength and stories,” Carter-Henry said. “I just hope they will be stories with much happier endings than mine has been in the past.”
Part of Carter-Henry’s horrific story includes Child Protective Services taking her children away from her. Today, the mother of two, says she does have a relationship with both children, and a 4-year-old grandson.
The book was released May 11 through Amazon on Kindle and is scheduled to be released in paperback in the near future. For more information on the book, visit www.aacic.solomonshouse.com.