Author Interview with Rhetta Akamatsu

Short Author Bio for Rhetta Akamatsu

I am an online journalist and author with a wide range of interests. My books cover the paranormal, a lesser-known part of Irish history, and blues music, and I also have smaller books about children’s crafts and Christmas traditions! Online I write about Atlanta blues music, Atlanta steampunk, and Atlanta Historic Places and I write about business and technology news for Gather.com. I live in Metro Atlanta in Marietta, GA, the subject of my book, Haunted Marietta, with my husband and my cat, near my grown children and 4, soon to be five, grandchildren.

~~~Author Interview with Rhetta Akamatsu~~~

 

It’s rare today to find an author who does nothing but write for a living. Do you have a ‘real’ job other than writing, and if so, what is it? What are some other jobs you’ve had in your life?

Rhetta Akamatsu: I work for Beverly Manley and Associates as a paralegal, but at present I only work there one day a week, and the rest of the time I write like mad. I also have eight web directories that I own and maintain that bring in a bit of advertising money. I populate them entirely myself. They cover Atlanta, Savannah, Charleston, New Orleans, the paranormal, tattoos, steampunk, and science fiction, Oh, and I am the associate editor of the electronic Journal of Anomalous Sciences at Dimensionzone.com.

What compelled you to write your first book?

Rhetta Akamatsu: I wrote the first book, Ghost to Coast, because I wanted a reference book about ghost tours, haunted hotels and paranormal groups around the US and I couldn’t find one. That was three years ago.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Rhetta Akamatsu: Well, I wrote a lot in elementary school, high school, and college, but after I got married the first time, I quit for a long time, and only wrote poetry once in a while for about 20 years before I started writing again.

What compels you to be a writer?

Rhetta Akamatsu: The desire to share everything I think is interesting. I figure that if I want to know about something , there must be other people who want to know about them, too, and if I can’t find the book I want on the subject, I research it and write it.

Tell us a little bit about your book/s. What are their titles; which is your favorite if you have more than one, and briefly let us know what they are about. Pay particular attention to your most recent book and/or your first book:

Rhetta Akamatsu: All of my books are nonfiction. I love fiction, but I have trouble writing endings for my stories. So I write about subjects I love. My latest book is The Irish Slaves: Slavery, Indentured Servitude, and Contract Labor Among Irish Immigrants, which I wrote because my heritage is almost all Irish and yet I never knew there were Irish slaves until recently. Also, I minored in history but the picture I was given of indentured servitude was so wrong, so I wrote the book to show some hard facts in history.

Before that, I wrote Haunted Marietta for the History Press because I am a certified paranormal investigator and I love paranormal history. It’s part of their Haunted America series and just went into its second printing!

My other major book is T’ain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do: Blues Women Past and Present, which I wrote because I was tired of picking up books about the blues and finding the women by and large ignored.

I also just published my first book solely as an eBook, Sex Sells: Women in Photography and Film, at Smashwords. I wrote that one because I was fascinated with early Victorian “naughty” postcards and with women like Lili St. Cyr, Marilyn Monroe, Josephine Baker, Sally Rand, Mae West, and the like.

How did you feel the day you held the copy of your first book in your hands?

Rhetta Akamatsu: I was overwhelmed. I still am overwhelmed whenever I hold a new copy of any of my books.

What about your family? Do you have children, married, siblings, parents? Has your family been supportive of your writing?

Rhetta Akamatsu: My parents are dead, but my husband, grown son and daughter, and the three oldest grandchildren (a 12 year old girl and 10 year old twin boys) are very supportive of my writing. I think, knowing how excited I get about subjects that interest me, they are glad to have me find another audience instead of talking their ears off about them, although I still do that, too.

When growing up, did you have a favorite author, book series, or book?

Rhetta Akamatsu: I read everything I could get my hands on. I lived in a very rural area near a small town in the days before Internet, so I read all sorts of books when they came my way, including those way over my grade level. I think that is why I have such eclectic tastes now.

But the first series that I remember completely captivating me was A Wrinkle in Time and the other books in that series by Madeleine L’Engle.

What about now: who is your favorite author and what is your favorite genre to read?

Rhetta Akamatsu: I still read a variety of genres, especially science fiction and fantasy, nonfiction, and what is sometimes called “Chick Lit.” I love Mercedes Lackey, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Janet Evanovitch, Dorothea Benton Frank, and Mary Janice Davidson. I just realized that list is all women. I read men, too! Pat Conroy, Neal Stephenson, Dan Simmons…

Do you watch television? If so, what are your favorite shows? Does television influence of inspire your writing?

Rhetta Akamatsu: Yeah, I love television. Our DVR is always full. We watch Ancient Aliens, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, some of the paranormal shows, Rescue Me, White Collar, Royal Pains.. .we like USA Network a lot. Also Treme, True Blood, and Entourage from HBO. I suppose everything has the potential to influence me, but not directly.

What about movies? Same as above.

Rhetta Akamatsu: I like dramas, fantasy and action-adventure mostly, and historical documentaries. I’m not big on romance and comedy as a rule, although I have a sense of humor. I just find once movie comedy annoying and not very funny, except for the occasional animated film.

Is there any one particular book that when you read it, you thought to yourself, “Man, I wish I’d written that one!”?

Rhetta Akamatsu: Lots of them, mostly fiction. I often envy fiction writers.

Is there any lesson or moral you hope your story might reveal to those who read it?

Rhetta Akamatsu: If you want to write, write. Don’t let anything stop you and don’t let anyone tell you you can’t.

Also, don’t assume that having a publisher doesn’t mean you have to promote yourself, that they will do all the work. They won’t. You have to be willing to get out there and push your work if you want people to know about it. And it is quite possible to be as successful with Print On Demand publishing as it is with a small to medium sized publisher if you are willing to work at it. I have done both, and I know this to be true.

Now, use this space to tell us more about who you. Anything you want your readers to know. Include information on where to find your books, any blogs you may have, or how a reader can learn more about you and writing.

Rhetta Akamatsu: All of my books except Sex Sells are available at Amazon.com and most other online bookstores. Sex Sells is only available at Smashwords at present but should be available for Kindle, Nook and smartphone apps soon. Most of my books are also available for Kindle. You can learn more about me and my books at http://www.rhettaakamatsu.com or by following me at @rhettaa on Twitter or on Facebook at

http://www.facebook.com/rhettaa

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