Decker’s hit Virus

HIV-positive author Shawn Decker says his Pet Virus is multiplying... and that's a good thing. "It's almost sold out of its first printing, 15,000 copies," Decker reports of My Pet Virus, his humorous memoir published in September that details his life growing up with HIV in small-town Waynesboro.

Big sales aren't the only good news. In addition to receiving glowing reviews in various publications, My Pet Virus– the subject of the Hook's September 14, 2006 cover story– was named one of the best nonfiction books of 2006 in Kirkus Review's annual round-up. And the National Multiple Sclerosis Society has made My Pet Virus a finalist in its first-time author category in its annual "Books for a Better Life" contest. Winners will be announced during a New York City gala on February 26, Decker reports. He's taking the success in stride. "It's up against the Rwanda book," he says, "so I'm in the 'just happy to be nominated' mentality."

In addition to traveling in support of his book, Decker's also focusing on another creative outlet: music. "I've been working on some new songs and I have a bandmate," he says, adding that his music is inspired by Depeche Mode, whose members he met as an ailing teen through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. And he's still making time to raise AIDS awareness. He and his wife, Gwenn Barringer, staged a "bed-in" in the window of the Kenneth Cole store in Manhattan's Grand Central Station on December 1 for World AIDS Day. ("We wore pajamas," he laughs, adding that he and Gwenn denied the designer's specific request that they engage in heavy petting.)

For those who read and enjoyed his first book, Decker says stay tuned: he's working out the details of a second book deal, and plans to start writing it this spring. "It's going to be more humorous life stories," he says.