By Sherrie Norris
High Country native and longtime media representative Mitzi Aldridge Moody has taken her writing skills to a new level — while fulfilling her life’s dream — in publishing a delightful regionally-inspired book titled “Mountain Majesty.”
“Mountain Majesty” centers around the life of spoiled heiress Abigail Wilder, who against her better judgement — or so she thinks — begins her new life far from her Charleston home as owner and operator of the majestic Cloudland Hotel, miles away on top of Roan Mountain.
The palatial hotel was left to her care by her father upon his death. May 1, 1889 signaled the beginning of her new life, but she wasn’t happy about it, in the least.
In the meantime, Caleb Dearmin is excited to begin running the Cranberry Iron Ore Mining and Timber Companies, willed to him by Abigail’s father, General Wilder. Wilder also hoped that Caleb, his former assistant and protege, would not only care for his business interests, but also hoped that he would care for Abigail, too — hopefully forever.
Dearmin’s main concern, prior to his chance inheritance and meeting Abigail, is caring for his Granny Dearmin, their farm and general store in the village of Elk Park. Caleb was also in charge of transporting guests to Wilder’s Cloudland Hotel as they departed the Tweetsie train that bought them into town.
Abigail’s world has been turned upside down by the death of her father and the break-up with her ruthless fiance, Ashley. Upon traveling to the mountains to assume her new role, Abigail is homesick and develops an immediate dislike of Caleb, who she assumes stole her father’s business.
She misses her father and Ashley, and the only life she knew in Charleston, and yearns to have everything back the way it was.
Eventually, Caleb and Abigail learn to tolerate each other, and as in any good love story, the plot thickens, as do their feelings for each other.
Met with one challenge after another, the couple finds solace in each other and eventually they choose to spend their lives together as husband and wife, raise their family on the mountain and maintain their joint inheritance. They share a deep concern for the well-being of others and go the extra mile to improve life for those within their reach.
The idea for her book came after spending time with her dad’s 92-year- old friend, Dick Patton, whose father actually owned the General Store in Elk Park and drove the Tweetsie passengers up to the Cloudland Hotel. “He could remember all the minute details of the Cloudland Hotel, what the people on the train wore and about the Cranberry mining and timber operations,” she said.
The title, Moody said, symbolizes God’s majestic creations —“Something easily seen as we look around these beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.”
Moody began working on the book in the 1980s, but didn’t give it her undivided attention at the time. Once she really began to focus on it, she couldn’t stop writing.
“I want those who read ‘Mountain Majesty’ to be swept away into another time and place in which they will fall in love with the characters and gain insight into the history of the Blue Ridge Mountains and people of the past,” Moody said. “But most of all, I want them to grow closer to God.”
The novel ends on a positive note, but it’s full of twists and turns before arriving at that point — much like Abigail’s journey from Charleston to the top of Roan Mountain.
Not one to let grass grow under her feet, Moody is already working on a sequel set in the early 1900s as the next generation experiences life on the Roan.
When asked about her research and fascination with Charleston, Roan Mountain, the hotel and all that brought her book together, Moody said she spent countless hours in preparation, researching era-specific details and events through books, videos and travel.
An actual visit with her husband, Phil, to the site of the Cloudland Hotel and the rhododendron gardens on Roan Mountain was certainly a highlight.
“Visiting there gave me cold chills,” she said. “ I was so excited to think that I was walking the same ground that the subjects in my book traveled. It is just awesome. We stopped at the visitors center at the Roan Mountain State Park and they actually have artifacts on display of the Cloudland Hotel— China plates and dishes, a carved headboard and the front desk registration book, just to name a few.”
And, of course, it was important for Moody to keep her family traditions alive through personalizing her characters with familiar names, including that of her dad, Bob the Dancing Man, her maternal grandfather, John J. Dearmin who owned the ice and coal company in Elk Park, and several others.
And the main characters, Abigail and Caleb, share striking characteristics with the author and her husband.
“A lot of the book is reality,” Moody responds. “ Much of it is fact and a lot of it is historical fiction. I tried hard to stay close to the facts.”
Completing this book that has been on her bucket list for a long time, Moody said. “I think that the writing and research has helped me learn and be able to grow and write beyond my initial vision. I hope to finish my next book in the Fall of 2022. It will be the second in my Cloudland Series.”
Moody is also in the process of releasing her first women’s Bible study/ devotional, ‘Tell The Story’ — focusing on God’s goodness. It will also be available on Amazon and Kindle this fall, as is her current publication.
Moody would like to thank her husband, her children and grandchildren for helping her with ideas and memories for her book; also Barbara George, her proofreader, and everyone that shows their support by purchasing a copy for themselves, family members and friends.
“ It has been a very exciting and humbling experience, to say the least,” she surmised.
“You are never too old to learn and be creative. If I can go back to college and graduate into a new career at retirement age, you can do anything your heart desires! Never give up. Always be reaching for the end of the rainbow.”
More about the Author
Mitzi Aldridge Moody is the daughter of the late Bob and Sara Ann Dearmin Aldridge, who were married for 53 years before death claimed her mother. Her father was the youngest of 18 children and was raised in Crossnore. Her mother was raised in Elk Park.
Mitzi began elementary school in Charlotte before her family returned to Avery County, where she attended Crossnore Elementary and Junior High before graduating following her junior year from Avery County High School in Newland.
Mitzi and Phil, high school sweethearts, have been married 43 years and have two adult children; son Luke Moody and his wife Becky live in Crossnore and have two children, Abigail and Dillion. Their daughter Frankie is married to Matthew Gragg. They have one daughter, Zoey, and live in Lenoir.
Mitzi currently works for a primary care physician as a certified medical assistant in Spruce Pine. She returned to college and graduated the day Phil retired from his job of 43 years at Baxter Health Care.
Phil is the minister at Spruce Pine Christian Church in Spruce Pine where they make their home. They have been involved with mission work in India and the Philippines, where they help support over 20 preachers.
As an encourager to other women, in hopes of helping them to grow closer to their families and to God, she says, Moody also writes a blog at www.mitzimoody.com.
Moody’s journey to becoming an author was not exactly a straight path, she said, but rather one of several interesting twists and turns that actually began in a different area of the media, altogether.
“One morning I was watching a local TV show from Bristol with anchor, Johnny Wood,” she described. “I thought I could help liven that show up, even though I wasn’t exactly sure how I would do it.”
With the right amount of spunk and determination, Moody called the TV station to pitch her idea, waiting for what she thought would be just the right moment – and sure enough it was, as Wood, himself, answered the phone. That conversation resulted in her having a 15-minute weekly segment on Wood’s show every Thursday.
One thing led to another as she was interviewed by the Avery Mountain Times about her show, which in turn resulted in an offer to write for the paper.
“My first news story interview was with the new local radio station owner, Steve Rondinaro,” Moody recalled. “During that interview he offered me a job as a radio disc jockey on Saturday Mornings, hosting an award winning bluegrass show. I was, at that time, doing TV, newspaper and radio.”
As Moody became a fixture in the local media world, she developed a faithful following, was awarded the 2001 Standard Publishing Christian Service Award and was named Avery County Woman of the Year.
Meet The Author
If you haven’t had a chance to meet Mitzi Moody, you have several upcoming opportunities in the near future. She will be signing her book at the Orchard at Altapass in Spruce Pine on the Blue Ridge Parkway on Saturday, Sept. 25, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
She will be at the Spruce Pine Christmas Show on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 5- 6 from 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. The event will be held in the former Roses location behind McDonald’s on Grassy Creek Hwy., Spruce Pine
Moody’s book is available on Amazon and on Kindle, as well as through the link on her website at www.mitzimoody.com.
She is also available for speaking engagements or book signings and may be reached via email at [email protected]; text or call: 828-467-8520; Website: www.mitzimoody.com; Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, Twitter or Pinterest
Live podcasts on https://anchor.fm/s/51c5e620/podcast/rss Anchor, Breaker, Google Podcasts, Pocket Casts, RadioPublic, and Spotify