The magnetic allure of our mountain communities is so attractive that now even fictional creations are migrating here from the Florida coast.
Meade Breeze, erstwhile miscreant and beach bum currently working on his reformation, has been cast since 2014 as author Ed Robinson’s central character in 14 books — 11 from the popular Trawler Trash series and three in the new Mountain Breeze offerings that to date include “Banner Elk Breeze,” “Blue Ridge Breeze” and the just-published “Beech Mountain Breeze.”
Robinson, a former self-avowed beach bum who lived on a boat and traveled throughout the Keys and the Bahamas, first presented his alter ego in “Trawler Trash: Confessions of Boat Bum.” From there, Breeze’s salty tales of life on the outskirts have earned hundreds of positive reviews and a loyal following of readers.
So, what’s an author to do when he moves from coastal boat to mountain cabin but take his anti-hero along for the ride.
That ride, so far, has been fun for both writer and fans. While Breeze’s current adventures are not as sultry as his early sojourns, Robinson uses the seductive landscape and communities of the Blue Ridge Mountains to further his character’s life-off-the-grid escapades, more stable romantic pursuit and (Breeze would gasp) more consistent, if unconventional, employment.
Like many who move to the mountains, Breeze first sought to exorcise the demons that have plagued him since Book 1 of Trawler Trash. Yet, from finding bodies to uncovering corruption, the newly minted mountain man still finds himself on the wrong side of the law.
But with Brody, his ever-faithful companion, he doesn’t shy away when called upon — or feels a duty — to investigate and solve the crimes and mysteries that seem to continually surface in his new home.
High Country readers especially will find much to explore in Robinson’s new series. Let pursue the debate about what he gets right and wrong of mountain life, but as he authentically and viscerally explores the High Country, what won’t be subjective is the fun you’ll have reading Breeze’s quirky adventures as he — and Robinson — settle into their new homes.
To talk about that settling and more, the Ashe Post & Times recently spoke with Robinson. The following interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Tom Mayer: You’ve been writing the Meade Breeze series since 2014, beginning with the 11 books of your Florida Trawler Trash series. Now that you’ve moved Breeze into the mountains, would you introduce him to your new audience?
Ed Robinson: Breeze began as a lovable rogue, living on the fringes of society in Florida. He traveled extensively on the west coast of the state, throughout the Keys, and on to the Bahamas and the Caribbean. He ran drugs, hunted for gold, and loved a different pretty lady in most every book. He eventually worked out his legal problems and settled down with a former FBI agent, Brody. They moved to the mountains to leave their troubles behind, but soon found new predicaments to deal with. Now, Breeze does his best to stay on the side of good in an attempt to atone for his earlier sins.
TM: Beyond your main character, one way to approach the Breeze series of novels is as bohemian cozy mysteries with a hint of sensuality. Would you agree?
ER: The first series was more action and adventure, heavy on eroticism. The Mountain Breeze books are much more in the mystery genre and Breeze has a steady girl — but, yes, it doesn’t lack sensuality.
TM: I’m wondering now that you’re already three books deep into the new Mountain Breeze series, what have you found to be the most challenging in transplanting Breeze — and those mysteries — from the southern coast to the High Country?
ER: Breeze used to travel to new exotic locations regularly. The challenge now is to keep each volume fresh, but geographically confined to the High Country. Additionally, it was a gamble to bring him with us to the mountains. I have to keep the character true to his roots if I want to retain those early fans, while making him enough of a mountain man to gain new readers.
TM: Breeze’s move to the mountains mirrors your own, and your author biography says you live in a log cabin hidden deep in the woods of the Blue Ridge Mountains. That’s pretty mysterious. Have you picked out a favorite part of the High Country yet?
ER: Like Breeze, my wife and I lived on a boat in Florida. We appreciated the isolation and solitude. When we decided to make a change, we wanted to keep our privacy, so we found a neat little cabin off the beaten path. We really enjoy the area centered around Banner Elk, including Beech and Grandfather Mountain.
TM: Speaking about favorite places, would you talk about how you use a sense of place in your novels? After all, Book 1 of the Mountain Breeze series is “Banner Elk Breeze,” the second is “Blue Ridge Breeze” and the third, just published in late February, is “Beech Mountain Breeze.”
ER: I try to write what I know, and create scenes in places I’ve actually been. As soon as the weather breaks, I hope to explore the area further, researching locales for Breeze to experience.
TM: Of Breeze’s many adventures and locales, what’s your personal preference? And, any hints as to future High Country exploits, romantic entanglements or just plain life in the mountains?
ER: In my opinion, “Beech Mountain Breeze” is one of the best in either series. The combination of his mountain skills and the sexual tension aspect really move the story along nicely. The resolution of the mystery is not what the average reader expects. The next book in the series will focus on the death of a student at Lees-McRae College. Breeze and Brody have formed Creekside Investigations and are hired by the boy’s parents to look into how he died.
TM: Beside location, it’s apparent you work hard to keep your stories as real as possible — and that’s important, especially to your High Country readers. What are some ways you go about doing that?
ER: My long-time readers know that I use real people as characters in my books. The hallmark of my writing is to insert some truth, which I feel makes the stories authentic. I’m often contacted by people wanting to be a character in my books. If their life story offers something interesting that I can use, I try to work them in to a tale. I’ve also been busy researching local legends and landmarks in search of inspiration for future books. I’m finding there is a rich history to work with.