This is an article about me from the Atlanta Journal Constitution last Sunday. Craig Allen did an excellent job, I think:
Rhetta Akamatsu says Marietta is her adopted city. She moved here in 1993 from Ware Shoals, S.C., and, among other interests, began looking into paranormal stories in and around Marietta and Cobb County.
She not only became a paranormal investigator, she authored a book in 2008 titled “Haunted Marietta.” In her book, Akamatsu isn’t content to delve immediately into the paranormal, but is respectful enough of her adopted home to explore some of Marietta’s stately history first.
As Akamatsu says in her book, “I love history, and to step into Marietta Square, the heart of downtown, is to immediately feel how close the past still lingers around here.” The word “lingers” foretells some of the otherworldly experiences she recounts. There are haunted bridges, buildings, and ghost stories galore.
The Civil War and its casualties are part of the fabric woven into several of these stories. In and around Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield, people claim to have heard canon fire and to have seen other strange phenomena.
But the typical paranormal investigator, according to Akamatsu, wants to measure what is seen and heard, not just be in the moment. Several techniques may be used, such as electromagnetic meters, images that can be recorded onto audio devices and film, and documenting “cold spots.”
In fact, her book shows an image at Kennesaw House of a ghostly woman who was captured on film in 2001 and 2003 by Marietta Museum of History CEO Dan Cox, an admitted skeptic according to the book.
Akamatsu, whose current interests go beyond paranormal activity, is nevertheless still drawn to haunting experiences, whether it’s the plight of long ago Irish slaves, or the lyrically haunting appeal of blues music. And she writes about them.
In 2010, she wrote “The Irish Slaves,” which tells the little-known story of how scores of Irish people were sent into slavery by the English to sugar plantations in the West Indies.
She also wrote a book about women of the blues in “T’ain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do,” which was updated in 2011. It chronicles the music of 17 women of the blues from Ma Rainey and Janis Joplin, to Bessie Smith and Bonnie Raitt.
In addition to compiling a collection of articles she’s written on paranormal topics, she writes four columns for examiner.com. “I guess I’m a full-time writer now,” she told me.
Her columns include Atlanta Blues, Atlanta Steampunk, Atlanta Fan Conventions, and Atlanta Historic Places. She also writes critiques of movies, books, and music for blogcritics.org.
How does one person keep up with so many different topics? Akamatsu explains in “Haunted Marietta” that she grew up a mile from any paved road. Marietta opened up cultural and historical learning opportunities that she continues to share with her readers.
She’s researching a novel about her maternal grandmother’s experiences in a Masonic orphanage in North Carolina. When completed, the novel should be another nice gift for her readers.