Novel 'O Man of Clay.' After sea-level rise.

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County Durham, United Kingdom
'O Man of Clay,' set in Hartlepool and Siberia in the near future while the tundra is thawing and the sea level rising, was published in January 2020 by Stairwell Books.

Thursday 19 March 2020

'Border 7' by Pauline Kirk

Compelling, chillingly plausible and a cracking good read if you like your English dystopia authentic and local and with a touch of Zamyatin and Orwell. I thought I spotted Manchester and York though am willing to be corrected –  while the capital retains its name. Certainly the North of the book has resonances with its own former border history and reiving past and with the strength and courage of the those deemed to live in the outer reaches: those who, apparently, need pacifying and containing.
In an England hundred and fifty years hence, government and democracy hardly exist and Corporations have taken control by offering apparent freedom after the deposing of the Junta. The miles high sky-scraping blocks are run as self-contained and all-encompassing microcosms for the benefit of the companies that own them. Conformity is demanded and maintained with the threat of the world of warlords and chaotic subsistence-level living outside.
However, it seems, the propaganda inside the 'refuges' conceals what is actually going on. Jude is a great central character and the story of her journey and the cast of characters she meets kept me reading. Will her self-determination and independence of spirit survive the odds stacked against her?

Tuesday 17 March 2020

Spring 2020

This was my poem published in Dream Catcher, 29.
Things have moved on since then.

To May, late under cloud

Reading the news, I watch through the window
how you sit up, shake your hair, slough peat slag
over breasts, between thighs; overslept,

blowzy ladies smock in the sump of your pit.
Here, a sexton beetle, dislodged from your nostril
where bees buffet musk of catkins, finds carrion.

Your bush, untamed thicket of thorn beyond
my fence, spikes spare blossom as you stretch,
arms high, dripping slow-worms from your fingers

and yawn wide-mouthed after a long sleep.
Later, digging, I hear a lone cuckoo; back from across
the Sahara, it slips an egg in your nest of hair.

Yet, though I blunder, astonished at the snipe
wooing his mate with a whoop of feather-fanning
(your belly laugh), still, I hear you blub at the loss

of beetle and moth, bereft but for orange tips
foraging the margins of my vegetable patch.
And when you lurch, drunk, over the mill lade,

frock rucked, spilling intoxicating may,
your navel does not glisten with nectar, you who
stumble a wind’s blow away where ash is dying.

News is, you broke into a lab, stole a fungal spray
for Chalara Fraxinea but it is sour, cramps your gut
and, so they say, you may not now, conceive.

  Eliza Mood      

Coming Soon to a Blog Near You: Hartlepool Hubs how a library became known as a 'shelf by the fireplace'

David Millar The Ministry for Ignoring Climate Change

Set on an island off the West coast of Canada and in Ottawa, this novel is a fictionalisation of a still-controversial geoengineering project. A Canadian cross between ‘Yes Minister’ and ‘Whiskey Galore’ but with bigger, climate-affected fish to fry, it is an antidote to current enforced self-isolation and makes the argument for community action to combat climate change. Though its satire is gently mocking, make no mistake, there are claws here. All human nature is exposed in the world of the city and the tiny island community eking out an existence on the edge. Pieter Breugel the Elder would approve the panoply of characters. Though the jury is out on the science, the implications of words and actions of politicians with a tenuous understanding of their effect on lives outside their bubble, are chillingly, if darkly humorously, portrayed.

The fast pace and cast of characters of all shades of green and those not even faitly reminiscent of it, motivated by degreess of self interest on a sliding scale from justifiable to wholly unjust and unforgiveable alongside the increasingly frenetic twists and turns would make a great movie too. Naturally, 'Whiskey Galore' for the climate crisis came to mind.

Wednesday 11 March 2020

Saci Lloyd The Carbon Diaries

Yeah. Diary structure. Good idea: charting the first year of carbon rationing as the fractures in a family appear, repair, widen, heal. Not aimed at my age group. Cross generational characters but seen through the eyes of a teenager. It took time but the characters grew on me. And there's nought like catastrophe for people pulling together. Read it in an episodic way as life-stuff was intruding: indulged in others lives falling apart. Gives a sense of how individuals might play things: find out who they really are in the midst of the political attempts to restore normality or introduce a new normal. Did Saci Lloyd pull it off? I think so.

Monday 24 February 2020

At the Museum after Dark

Good to meet climate activists at Hartlepool RN Museum on Saturday night. Thanks for bringing literature. Thanks to HRNM staff, Swords, George, Ailsa and Robin. Also to Cameron Twinn, student reporter from Sunderland. Fab. bookstall run by Rose and Emily. Thanks! Amazing sword dance, smooth and slick. Anyone would think they had been dancing it since 1967! (Some have. Shhh) Great lads and lasses all and a good time had by me for one.
Hoping to meet more of you downtown at the library in Hartlepool on the 13th March from 2pm (See poster in 'Events').

Friday 21 February 2020


22nd 7.30pm £6.50
ROBIN DALE, a native of Teesside, moving documentary photographer and rubato singer of the songs of his great friend, the bard of Teesside, Graeme Miles.
AILSA MACKENZIE, Teesside player of haunting tunes on celtic harp and dulcimer and superb singer who includes songs of Graeme Miles in her
GEORGE UNTHANK, Middlesbrough-originating folk singer of deservedly high repute, well-known as a member of the Keelers, a group who sing both shanties and songs of the North-East. 
REDCAR SWORD DANCERS perform traditional English longsword dances from the North East of England and revived the Greatham Sword Dance and mummers play.
ELIZA MOOD, author, to read from her debut novel, 'O Man of Clay,' on the theme of climate change and set in Hartlepool.

Hartlepool Museum Book Launch tomorrow night, 22nd

Jolly chat on t'blower with Bob Fischer @BobFischer @BBCTees last night. Museum info under events. Tickets on the door or in advance at   Hartlepool underwater? What goings on. Much jollity at the event predicted. Stairwell Books will have a stall with some proper gems. And they're having a year of publishing women. Yay!

Thursday 20 February 2020

Looking forward to chatting to Bob Fischer of BBC Radio Tees briefly this evening at 8.45pm. 
Bob Fischer, Radio Tees
We'll talk climate matters and the booklaunch for 'O Man of Clay' in Hartlepool on Saturday night 22nd Feb at Hartlepool Museum of the Royal Navy (see events). 

The booklaunch will be hosted by the fabulous Stairwell Books who will run a bookstall. Rose Drew of Stairwell will compere.
Amazing guests: singers, musicians, even Redcar Sword Dancers who appear in a chapter of the book.

Thursday 13 February 2020

Pig Iron by Benjamin Myers

Pig IronPig Iron by Benjamin Myers
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A compulsive read; fascinating and sometimes horrifying by turns. Benjamin Myers writes with playful joy in oral language and with humour and compassion. The main character is of the traveller culture and, while having been cut off without a full grasp of it, he has been shaped by it and it has given him important strengths, including a strong affinity with the natural world and an enjoyment of the solitary as well as the social. The reader sees things as this taciturn narrator sees them. As he tries to get his life on track he gradually draws the reader into his situation and way of seeing. Through the little he says, his reactions to others and theirs to him, the reader catches hints of what is withheld even from himself and what brought himto this point. And all the while a parallel narrative is interleaved, evidently connected and gradually entwining itself with the main narrative as it runs on.
This is a story about inheritance, genetic and social; the inevitability or otherwise of repeating the past; whether different motives for what may be seen from the outside as similar behaviour alter the nature of the act; how far it is possible for an individual to step outside the role that is offered and assumed for him and what gives him the strength to do so. Some characters in the book are trapped by their circumstances and either do not question their position, see no way out or make the most of this to create an alternative economy, finding ways of surviving. Others look outside but find it too much to make the break. Some desire control and power within their community by violent policing of its boundaries and sub-culture. Being outside to two cultures perhaps gives the narrator an ability to see more clearly.

View all my reviews

Sunday 2 February 2020


Ironopolis by Glen James Brown


A fascinating, compulsive read during which the reader feels sometimes enveloped by the fog of the river from which the visceral embodiment of the spirit of the place emerges. I finished this book wanting to begin again, feeling that though strands were knotted up, there were questions unanswered or half answered and yet that deeper truths had surfaced: what holds people, breaks them, sends them spiralling off—and that is how it should be. In the sifting of documents and oral histories, a history of the generational entanglements of members of a community emerges. This is a community that has been sold down the river, their houses gradually purchased, the people disappearing and not only to known destinations but some leaching away. The main assembler of narratives and narrator, whose identity is revealed towards the end, is searching for his own history only to understand that the process of research rather than its end is an act of transformation. Through all of the structural circularities and symmetries, resonances through generations, the well down which a character might plummet in the old waterworks, the explosions that wipe people out or allow them to vanish, the marginalised of the community have an ear to hear the watery underground drawing them, many experiencing unexpected moments of the extraordinary in the everyday. Those who, on the surface, maintain a outward polish of respectability may not be all they seem but goodness and love are found in odd corners. The sense of loss and yearning is strong; those who leave in geographical terms spend their lives obsessively trying to make sense of where they came from. And the last laugh is on green-skinned, mildew sodden Peg Powler, of course…

Saturday 1 February 2020

Workshop: Phil and Lit, Hexham

Great to meet other writers at the fiction writing workshop at at the Phil and Lit in Hexham yesterday. It was good to discuss what we were doing and our approaches and try out some writing exercises. Also to have a good writing-related natter. Some fascinating work on the way... Hope to meet up again, folks!

Monday 27 January 2020

Drake The Bookshop, Stockton: reading/signing

Drake the Bookshop, Stockton: Grand place. Thanks for welcome! And to Sophie and Josh who stayed 'n nattered over coffee. And those who came for a Saturday browse and got more than they bargained for. Hope to see you at Hartlepool Navy Museum Feb 22nd

Friday 24 January 2020

The Overstory by Richard Powers

The structure of this book is inventive. The roots are the stories of characters that feed into the trunk of the narrative where their lives touch and flow or surge together towards the crown from where seed is dispersed. Characters become entwined through tree-related episodes, incidents or lives lived in the presence or under the influence of trees; lives ravel and unravel to the soughing of wind through trees and the clang of an axe, screech of a saw. Trees are not just background but fundamental in one way or the other to the human lives they sustain and the book’s characters, whether conscious or unconscious of this, become who they are, metaphorically or symbolically or actually, in part at least, thorough the power or absence, or even agency, of trees. The lives of the people depicted are overlaid by trees, both their daily and their intellectual lives; their planet’s history and science owes a debt to them, would be impossible without them. They themselves exist in dynamic conjunction with and nourished by them or crushed by their loss. A timely novel. Bravo, Richard Powers!

Thursday 23 January 2020

Clifi (Climate Fiction)

I first met Dan Bloom 'across the universe,' as he says, a couple of weeks ago when he commented on my tweet, @ElizaMood, referring to my novel, 'O Man of Clay,' as 'clifi.' I had been having difficulties finding a genre for the novel that felt quite comfortable and was toying with the notion of clifi, a relatively new term to me. I didn't think I had written a dystopia as the thrust of my book was a search to find some way out of something that was only part way there. I had wondered about eco-fiction but wasn't sure whether I would be making too grandiose a claim. And yet, while the novel refers to climate science and there is a perfectly good genre already out there—science fiction—I felt that there was an awkwardness of fit; something about the messiness of now that my characters are enmeshed in, their not having stepped out of our present dilemmas, their closeness to the present day that didn't quite sit comfortably there. After all, one of the main character's backstory is inspired by recent history. On the other hand, the book is certainly speculative - and literary in the sense of being about ideas and in its attention to the rhythms of language. Anyway, I did a bit of reading around Clifi, a term coined by Dan Bloom about five years ago, and tried it out for size.

And when Dan asked would I like to be interviewed for his blog, I was thrilled; here perhaps was a location for 'O Man of Clay.'
You can find the two interviews he did with me here, along with a rich seam of other authors:

Here is an interview with Dan himself. There are others if you dig around, and Dan's own novel is imminent:

Tuesday 21 January 2020

Paul Cockburn's Review of 'O Man of Clay'

It is great receiving a review, especially for a new author—and this one is in some depth and thoughtful. (From Waterstones website)
Thanks Paul.
Paul Cockburn Review

Sunday 19 January 2020

Dan Bloom and cli-fi (climate fiction)

Dan Bloom is doing a very good thing for cli-fi and the underlying motivation of it, whether an author quite begins with that motivation or it emerges from the writing process. Thanks for your questions Dan: There is much good stuff on blogspot above.

Friday 17 January 2020

Talks and workshops coming up

During the next two weeks, i'm in Hexham for talks and workshops: all experience and none welcome. See 'Events' for details.

About the Phil and Lit

The Phil & Lit is an institute for lifelong learning; a library and study space; a meeting hub for like-minded people; a place to work, be creative, to learn and to discuss. They offer courses, workshops, lectures and events on topics such as Philosophy, Creative Writing, Psychology, Music, Art History and Mindfulness. With offices in both Carlisle and Hexham, they share a love of knowledge and learning at The Phil & Lit, and their aim is to share that with the people of these towns and beyond. Please visit for more details.


Thanks to Peter Woods of HexhamTV for livestreaming 'O Man of Clay' Booklaunch event at the Vault!


 HexhamTV 'O Man of Clay' Booklaunch

It was a marathon. Great venue. Great guest performers. Thanks Ben Haslam for hosting and my publisher, Rose Drew of Stairwell Books, for compering with aplomb and reading poems as a special guest, too. Thanks to all of my guests—George Unthank, Kevin Tilbury, Pauline Plummer and Robin Dale—and to Alan Gillott of Stairwell Books for running the Bookstall and appearing as a special guest poet.

You are stars, one and all.

Also thanks to Valdis for taking care of the technical stuff. And to all of you who came to our underground venue to join in the proceedings. Despite the fact that I seem on 'TV' to be clutching a motley sheaf of disparate papers and not a book at all, it was grand. 

(See 'Press and Media' for a video of the evening) 

World’s End

At the launch of the cli-fi novel,
Maggie quaffs with a studious air
way down in the ground in The Vault,

a trendy stone-cellar affair.
After all, why not raise a glass
while your daughter is yapping on stage;
in my day you just read the book

and a tomb was not quite the rage.
And if, as she says, we're all doomed,
burning or drowning—one of the two—
why not go down with a laugh
getting sloshed in our burial tomb?

Eliza Mood, 17.01.20

Wednesday 15 January 2020

Dan Bloom interviews me on Cli-Fi

The thoughtful Dan Bloom believes that fiction can do stuff in the world and needs to shake hands with science. The future for cli-fi: interview with Dan Bloom

Dan has a blogspot for writers and readers of cli-fi fiction and was good enough to do an interview of yours truly:…/meet-cli-fi-novelist-eli…Dan Bloom interviews Eliza Mood

This is my interview with Dan:


 Your cli-fi novel ‘O Man of Clay’ is set in Hartlepool, UK. For those not familiar with your region of the UK, where is hartlepool and why is your novel set there?


Hartlepool and the North bank of the Tees caught my imagination when, as a young teacher, I lived nearby. The old city of Hartlepool, on the East coast of Northern England and on the estuary of the river Tees began as an Anglo-Saxon monastery and later became a mediaeval walled city. Nearby, iron and coalmines fed the British Empire but its traditional industries - fishing, steel and magnesium processing - are, for the most part, gone.
When the tide draws back around the Headland, it sometimes, exposes fossilised trees: a prehistoric forest. Fossilised bones of animals, skulls and human artefacts have been trawled there. Mesolithic people were here long before the city: hunters. These signs of earlier human lives fascinate me – and the Tees water spirit, Peg Powler.
But, what we call Doggerland, the once forested land between Britain and the continent became inundated as the ice started to melt 8,500 years ago. And, if we do nothing the melt will accelerate as it has been doing over twenty years and the sea will rise further. In the novel I imagine the houses and buildings at the edges of the city part submerged.


 Cli-fi as a genre has the potential to effect change if we can move ourselves and readers - in both senses. The power of oral storytelling and narrative is important to the main characters of ‘O Man of Clay' who realise our human story needs changing.  In your opinion, why does our human story need changing and in what ways?


We manufacture and move on, abandoning sites and people, leaving scars in the landscape and disease, trauma and loss in communities and people. Some scientists propose that the current geological period, the Holocene, has ended. Instead we are in the anthropocene, the age in which a stratum will be composed predominantly of materials deposited by human beings, materials such as radioactive elements, soot from power stations and plastics – even chicken bones. We can change this and we must; the remnants of the nuclear industry will be potentially  harmful for thousands of years.
Perhaps we can carry on the story-telling and realize how to try out different endings/new beginnings; it’s about getting enough little things happening to make the powerful do the big things.


  What is the meaning of the title of your novel? What is it a reference to?  


Many cultures have a creation myth involving a half-man/ half-God figure sculpting humans of earth material such as wood, bone or clay: in Greek mythology, Prometheus moulded men of earth and water; in the Sumerian myth Enkil uses clay and blood. There are similar hindu, Yoruba ad Maori myths. I conceived my novel as a kind of re-creation myth, only this time the creators and animators are female. And they reshape their story by re-telling it.
The title is also a supplication, a vocative address to the human species to think who we are and where we have come from: animal, spirit and consciousness and the product of thousands of generations before.


 Who is your main target audience of readers? In the UK,? what age group? 


‘O Man of Clay’ is a literary-speculative novel for which the main target is adult readers, though I would hope to reach older teenage readers, too (seventeen onwards): those who want to stay near home or travel and wrestle a bit with ideas. The main characters are seventeen and sixty-seven and the points of view cover this range. The book is certainly not aimed at the UK only; one of the pleasures of reading is to discover somewhere new. We are all in this together; I hope males can read female characters, young read old, and vice versa in both cases. Many of us retain the desire to play with ideas as we age; the book is for those who want to peer into possible futures.


Are you an optimist or a pessimist re climate change issues locally where you live and worldwide?


The sense of coming close to a tipping point is unavoidable. I try to hold both perspectives together; perhaps psychologically this is the only way for me. I do think it is possible to draw back from the brink but the changes will have to be radical: at governmental and community and individual levels. Young people are active – but this will only spread if people have got a social investment in it; if it’s part of what we do to live in the community; if it’s expected of us; if it becomes natural and routine to think this way; if it isn’t exclusive. There is no moral high ground; we have to help each other. If we do so redemption is possible, I think.
            When, around 2007, the Arctic sea ice began partially melting in the summer, continental shelves became the object of a colonial land grab and I asked myself how did we come to believe that this is acceptable? How can we delude ourselves this way? To stop plundering the fossil fuels we need to value ourselves as respected and responsible and we need not to have been forced into labour in a mine or an oil well under the sea. We need scientific method and to be inclusive of traditional knowledge. We need the arts and sciences to collaborate: to value ourselves; not to be afraid to examine our own beliefs and perceptions and our history of living in the environment.



 What's your favorite clifi novel that you've read and recommend?


 Barbara Kingsolver's Flight Behaviour is a wonderful book: warm and humorous, yet simultaneously serious and thoughtful, it is about how we come to terms with a terrifying unknown future of changing climate and nature off kilter - by working together, talking, taking practical steps, by small actions, by setting about trying to see and understand so that we can do what might be needed. This is a tale of a moment of epiphany and its gradual aftermath; one minute the main character is looking for a way out of the humdrum and the next, she gets more than she bargained for. Having been making ends meet on the lower slopes of an Applachian mountainside, a momentous experience leads her to examine her old life and see her children and relationships in a different light. At a juncture in life when she was frustrated and yet open to something new, she finds the change she wanted and needed lie in a deeper understanding of her own surroundings. Her moment of awakening is, of course, the one we may desire, need and fear, the one that will allow us to see ourselves as we really are - as part of nature - and, at a time when the way we live and use the planet is pushing nature out of joint, show us other possible ways of being.

I would also like to recommend, ‘The Chernobyl Privileges’ by Alex Lockwood, my fellow County Durham writer.
All nuclear reactors emit carbon 14, a radioactive isotope, invalidating the industry’s claim that reactors are carbon free. And the fuel that reactors burn is carbon-intensive.
‘The Chernobyl Privileges’ is a novel about bonds: those of blood and those that bind particles in the nucleus of an atom – and about the forces that break each apart. It is narrated from the point of view of Anthony, both in the current narrative time and during his childhood and shows how incidents in his adult life force him to face what happened in the past. It deals sensitively with that instinct for self-preservation that causes distance to open up between people. The moments when Anthony could have drawn closer to those he loves yet fails to do so multiply, and the reader is right there looking across the widening gulf and weighing up each choice and decision with him. The reasons that prevent people from choosing to alleviate their own suffering are thrown into stark relief, and we see how, at a time of crisis, political forces can seek to exploit human vulnerabilities for their own ends.
 Alex is a superb craftsman, holding back the increasingly inevitable; when they come, acts both small and life-changing strike the reader with a terribly poignancy. A compelling read, this is a novel for the present moment with intimations of how little, it seems, we have learned.


 What are your PR and book promotion plans locally and nationwide,? Radio interviews? Tv? Newspapers? Websites? Blogs? Have you seen my blog tour platform?


My novel ‘O Man of Clay’ is my debut for 2020. I’m starting local in County Durham and Northumberland in Northern England but by September, I’ll be National when i’ll be at Fantasycon in London on the 25th-27th September with Stairwell Books, my publisher. My website,  has some press and radio interview with more coming up.
I’ve looked but I am not sure what a blog-tour platform is.

Thank you very much for interviewing me Dan and for your interesting questions.
Eliza Mood
End of questions

Monday 13 January 2020


Drake the Bookshop, Stockton
On Saturday 25th January during the day I'll be inhabiting Drake the Bookshop in Stockton and reading from and signing my debut climate change novel ‘O Man of Clay.’ The novel, a speculative fable set in Hartlepool in the near future imagines the lives of  inhabitants of the shore who find themselves almost cut off by a rapidly rising wall.
Come and meet me, have a chat about books, writing, reading, Hartlepool and the climate crisis or whatever strikes you.    

What's Happening?

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