Wildsmith: Into The Dark Forest

Eagerly awaited release from Calder Valley Author is about to hit the bookshelves
January 27, 2023

The Calder Valley boasts a rich vein of influences - from the likes of Anne Lister, Emily Bronte and William Dearden - to the more recent writers including Phyllis Bentley, Simon Armitage, Glyn Hughes, poet Ted Hughes and wife Sylvia Plath.

The latest in that long line of talented writers, is Hebden Bridge born Liz Flanagan, who soaks up the nature in her surroundings, to help inspire her to write tales of fantasy for her young readers.

For the award winning author, Liz, the whole experience started with her early years, when she read any book she could lay her hands on including the Narnia series and Roald Dahl.

“I remember our teacher reading James and the Giant Peach to our class and looking forward to going to school just to hear the next chapter.

“I loved animal books, plus magical and detective stories and basically read my way along the local library’s children's section.”

Interestingly, Liz, did a three year stint at Hughes’ former Lumb Bank home, which is now the Arvon Centre, for aspiring writers from around the world.

It was here that Hughes wrote some of his most dramatic poetry, directly from the rugged hilltop landscape of his Mytholmroyd birthplace, in its wild, yet natural surroundings, in the Remains of Elmet.

Liz sees a similar correlation between her writing experiences and that of Hughes', explaining: “Although this story is fantasy, I do always have a clear landscape in mind when I’m writing. Sometimes I map or draw locations in the story to make them even clearer, but I’m delighted with the illustrations by Joe Todd-Stanton because his art is so magical and definitely captures the sense of place I had in mind.”

Liz, who has had a number of similar genre books published, has attracted an ever growing captive market of young readers keen to get their hands on her latest fantasy novel as part of the Wildsmith series - Into The Dark Forest, which is published by uclan on February 2, priced £7.99.

The book will be the first in a quadrilogy, with a second book published in Spring and two more down the line.

“I’ve got a really clear memory of early childhood, and I’m sure that helps in the writing of this novel, which is based on how I used to feel, and the main character Rowan - with her curiosity and stubbornness, her love of animals and climbing – draws on those memories.”

Liz’s love for fantasy came at an early age and has subsequently been influenced by the books of Kristin Cashore, Tamora Pierce and Laini Taylor, but admits it’s always difficult to write day in day out.

Liz And Tess

She says the Calder Valley also gives her the perfect backdrop, when she gets the opportunity to relax and to chill out adding: "I honestly haven't changed that much since I was a kid. I love being outside, walking with friends and dogs and equally, I love being cosy at home with my family and books."

For more information and to buy Liz's books CLICK HERE