To this hopeful writer Jon Wilkins’ presentation was enlightening. Talking about his writing, including his 2019 novel, Poppy Flowers at the Front, he doubled down on the importance of research when writing historical fiction, describing days spent combing historical sources and Imperial War Museum artefacts to make his novel as accurate as possible.

Jon presented an overview of his writing in impressive detail, explaining relevance and inspirations as he went. I came to realise, by his example, that stories are collections of experiences and I shouldn’t be afraid to think about why I’m writing what I’m putting on the paper.

However, Jon’s accuracy isn’t the entire story. He explained the importance of creating compelling characters who defy norms of their time. I was impressed to see Jon using his position as an author in the 21st Century to explore both LGBTQ characters and the first flames of feminism during the First World War. Jon’s focus is on investigating the period and presenting strong yet realistic characters within the historical setting.

As an author, Jon is refreshingly free of hubris, accepting mentoring from other writers who review and make suggestions about his work, and going so far as to pull work from printing because he felt it didn’t reach the standard he expected. This prospective writer will be sure to take his advice to heart