3-book series of supernatural gothic horror. Published by Simon & Schuster.


SkipAhead Script Development Lab

Very excited to be overseeing a new script development lab initiative from Screen Australia and Google Australia entitled SkipAhead; a program focused on taking YouTube creators into the world of long-form storytelling.

Leading the lab with producer Sam Jennings of Causeway Films, we will be taking participants through an intensive TV and Film writing bootcamp and then drilling down into the creator’s individual projects in a rigorous development process to create TV-pilots and feature scripts.


Future Tense - Fan culture and co-creation  

“So, when does co-creation become labour exploitation? And how does a professional writer reshape the creative process to get the best out of his/her fans, while still maintaining a veneer of sanity?”

I was recently interviewed by Antony Funnell on ABC Radio National’s FUTURE TENSE discussing ideas of Fan-Culture, Co-Creation, writing across platforms and online audiences. 

“Take a healthy dose of obsessive fan culture, throw in a whole array of digital production tools, add a writer/producer who’s happy to share, mash it all together, and you’ve got the makings of a nice piece of co-creation. 

Fans have long had a role in influencing and in some cases helping to shape the works of popular culture they adore. But when they get restless in the modern age, they now have the resources to take a piece of fiction and make it their own.”

In the interview I discuss my new book series, The Transgressions Cycle, explore ideas of collaboration, testing stories with audiences, and developing stories in an adaptive way. 

In the interview I’m joined by other writers and commentators including Laura Miller from It makes for a great listen and the full program episode is available online from the ABC.


A Night of Horror

Premiering on the 26th November is ‘A Night of Horror Vol 1’ an anthology collection of delectably scary horror shorts produced by my comrade Enzo Tedeschi of Deadhouse Films. 

“Zombies, demonic entities, self-surgery, cannibalism and more await in the dark corners of this terrifying offering from some of the most talented filmmakers working in the genre today. WYRMWOOD’S Bianca Bradey stars, and leads you through a pulse-charging night of cinematic horror.”

2016 National Screenwriters Conference

Registrations are now open for the Australian Writers’ Guild National ‪‎Screenwriters‬ Conference. This Event is COMPULSORY. Australian writers should not, under any circumstances, miss it!. I can quite literally trace 80% of all the work and collaborations I’ve had over the past 2 years to meetings and contacts I gained at the last NSC.

At the 2016 conference - 9-11 March - I’ll be leading a panel looking at writing for online digital series and running a craft session on multiplatform development. There is also the Micro-Mentorships the conference offers to emerging writers and so I’ll be taking meetings with newbies to offer some advice. The full program is now online with special international guests still to be announced.


The eagerly anticipated National Screenwriters’ Conference is the must-attend, biennial, 3-day event for screenwriters, established and aspiring. Presented by the Australian Writers’ Guild, with our Principal Partner Film Victoria and Industry Partner Foxtel, this event brings together screenwriting talent from across Australia and around the world.


A good review: 'The Mothers'

The prestigious Newtown Review of Books reviewed my novel THE MOTHERS and said some nice things…

“a gripping, cinematically detailed horror story following a fearless 19th-century heroine… Ritualistic carnage, coupled with the ritualistic deception of history being rewritten, brings to a surreal climax the mystery of forgotten foundlings, mystical apparitions, and the grief of innocence lost.”

Read the full article from The Newtown Review of Books here.

It goes with the other nice things people have been saying.

“Jones has achieved something special in this book. Imagine a 19th century gothic novel but with the pace of a modern horror experience and that is ‘The Mothers’. The world he creates around the central character is seamless; you become immersed in her experience and root for her survival while glimpsing into the cracks in the dark.”
- Amazon UK

“Had us reading late into the night (and turning on the hall light) with his nail-biting tale, a creative blend of horror and historical fiction… Jones’ novel hooked us with its evocative imagery and skin-crawling suspense.
- iBooks Best Books of the Month List - Sept 2015.

“Beautifully written… It took me by surprise… Evokes the mind to experience just what’s on the page.”
- Australian Horror Fiction Podcast.

The second book in The Transgressions Cycle collection, THE SCRIMSHAW MARIONETTE, is out now and Halloween will see the release of the third and final book, THE REPARATION.


Monsters & the imagery of scary Ideas


It may be a rather useless way to predict the future or pre-determine character personality - but for the Writer, the astrological signs of the Zodiac a rich vein of narrative ideas, character archetypes and story principles. Particularly for writers of horror, supernatural and weird fiction.

Illustrator Damon Hellandbrand has reimagined every sign of the Zodiac as a monster and the imagery he has constructed from the core elements of the star signs themselves, give us a great starting point to think about what makes a monster compelling?

Good monsters are not arbitrary, they embody scary Ideas, more than simply scary appearances. As a simple test, show these 12 images to your friends and ask them which one they would be most #scared of in the dark - which one terrifies them the most? I’ll wager the responses will be not be uniform, but differ widely between people. What is most scary to one person is not the same as to another. The important question is why? What is it about a particular image that makes the fear it generates personal?

Certainly you can’t design a story #monster that is all fears to everyone, but you can design a monster that is the sum of all fears to the protagonist of a story, a character through which the audience aligns and fears as they do. In these zodiac illustrations each monster holds a specific kind of archetypal terror that has been amplified. 

Leo is the man-beast who threatens to devour you, animalistically and savagely with claws and teeth. Eaten by an animal is one of the longest standing fears humankind has ever harboured. An obvious survival trait for stone age peoples. But claws and teeth also represent a kind of savagery which is the opposite of ‘civilisation’ and that bestial nature instills a particular kind of fear - an animal within us all - one that is perhaps only barely contained. Damon Hilldandbrand as not given his drawings these qualities randomly, each is drawn from the archetypal fears the Zodiac signs embody and express.

Astrologers would suggest that being born under such a sign dictates your personality and future but for those of us who aren’t intellectually retarded the signs of the Zodiac are much more useful as tool for understanding the human condition as #narrative metaphor and allegory, manifestations of distinct and personal fears - the beast within, judgement, inversion, transgression, gluttony, wrath, hate, hunter and hunted, subjugation, redemption. Good monster #design is about tapping into the fearful (and very human) idea the monster represents, not just the grotesque of what it looks like.

This thinking was front and centre for me in articulating the ‘monsters’ of The Transgressions Cycle I was looking for a specificity of fearful depiction, something which would rattle the protagonist in a personal way, and also that which would rattle me as the writer (because if it doesn’t scare me it won’t scare anyone else!)

In book 1, The Mothers, the ‘monster’ is a nest of soulless children who live between the walls. In book 2, The Scrimshaw Marionette, the monster is the ghost ensconced in a macabre #marionette doll, carved form whale bone, that can puppeteer the living into the sea. In book 3, The Reparation, it’s the spirit of a dead girl who walks backwards through the #cemetery. In all three, it was not the way the monster looked so much as the way it moved, that was the hook in my imagination and the impetus to tell the story. I wanted to find particular forms of motion that were ‘uncanny’ in the truest sense - normal, yet not normal - movement that resembled the human, but which are clearly inhuman. The merging of an image and a movement creates a cognitive dissonance between seeing something that is seemingly normal, yet the way it moves betrays it’s abnormality.

In The Mothers the soulless children look like young children, but move like insects. Moreover, they move in the ‘non-places’, the spaces between spaces where humans are not meant to go. This is a direct connection to Freud’s ideas of the ‘Unheimliche’ where he looks at spaces within the home - basements and attics - as ‘ uncanny’, being in the house but not really ‘of the house’. In The Scrimshaw Marionette the puppet ghost forces people to walk, but walk as if their limbs are on strings - jerky, staccato, twitching motion that lacks all the fluidity of being human.

And in The Reparation, the spirit in the cemetery appears serene, her legs walk forward her body moves backwards wherever she goes, drifting over the cemetery ground in an inversion of the ‘real’. She is a lure, pulling people backwards into the past.

As with Damon Hellandbrand’s imagery of the zodiac, I was looking to find not just an arbitrary idea of ‘scary’, but something that spoke to deeper fears we harbour - the breaking of parental bonds, the loss of control over our own bodies, the fear of the past holding and dragging us back to mistakes we cant fix.

Without metaphor, high-concept genre writing is empty. The words a writer puts down are the generators of imagery, and that the more clarity, specificity and thought a writer can put into that imagery, the more profound the experience becomes. With such a long history of writers creating monsters, it can sometimes feel hard to find a fresh perspective, a unique idea, but the more particular you can be about the image and it’s idea, the easer a fresh monsters will come.

The final book in The Transgressions Cycle - THE REPARATION - will be released on halloween. Published by Simon & Schuster.



New Drama Series - Deadlock

Super excited to soon be working with UK screenwriter and creator of hit youth drama series SKINS, Bryan Eisley, on a new series project with Deb Cox and Fiona Eagger of EveryCloud Productions (Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, Gods of Wheat Street). 

This new drama series, entitled DEADLOCK, was part of the PlatformX development program I ran for the Australian Writers’ Guild in 2014. Now Deb and Fiona have taken it to the next stage securing a collaboration with Bryan Eisley that will incorporate his experience with collaboratve script workshop processes developed during the cretaion of SKINS.

From the press release:
“Based in the UK, Bryan Elsley will travel to Australia to join forces with Every Cloud Productions’ Executive Producers, Deb Cox and Fiona Eagger, along with multiplatform writer Mike Jones and local Indigenous writer Jon Bell. Together this team of internationally acclaimed industry professionals will guide young writers through the intensive Script Lab.

Deadlock is an original concept by Deb Cox, developed for Every Cloud Productions with Fiona Eagger. The series will combine authentic voices with stories that reflect the candour and vibrancy of youth culture - tempering complex issues faced by teenagers in Australia, with humour, courage and energy.  At the core of Deadlock lies the mystery of what happened one fateful night beneath the tropical gloss of an idyllic coastal town in North East Australia. When long-standing teenage regional rivalries are stirred at a late night party – a short drive to a neighbouring town ends with a catastrophic car crash. But the accident is only part of the picture and as the circumstances leading up it are unravelled, the pieces of a puzzle fall into place and the many stories of the youth of this fictional town are peeled open…

Moreover, the DEADLOCK project, with Northern Rivers Screenworks, is offering a huge opportunity for up to 6 emerging screenwriters to join the residential script development lab in December! So if you’re a screenwriter between 18-35 check out the information below - it’s too good an opportunity to miss. Look forward to seeing you in Byron Bay!

For all the Details on Deadlock visit -


Labyrinths - Trapping and Testing Character

I have developed a bit of an obsession with ‪‎Labyrinths‬ and as a writer they seem to filter into my stories in all sorts of weird ways. Obviously there’s a natural, thrilling drama inherent in being enclosed in a maze, of being compelled to follow a path that is confusing, disorientating and which around every corner there may lurk a monster! 

From a story point-of-view Labyrinths are a powerful devices that immediately deliver a clear escape Goal for a character, an going and sustainable series of Obstacles, and an emotional state for an audience of being a aligned with a character who is Trapped. But beyond the ability of Labyrinths to produce good story mechanics, there is something even more compelling that speaks to metaphor and big thematic ideas.

Theseus and the Minotaur of Greek myth is obviously the seminal Labyrinth narrative and it goes something like this: 

Theseus goes to the island of Crete to face and kill the Minotaur, to prove his worth to his father and the subjects of his kingdom, and save them from being enslaved to King Minos of Crete. Theseus says if he is victorious he will return with White sails, if he fails the sails will be Black.

The Minotaur lives in a labyrinth so even if you kill the minotaur you cant find your way out of the maze. So it’s both a test of Strength and of Skill and hence the best possible test of a being a ‘Hero’ - Brains and Brawn.

When Theseus gets to the island, the Daughter of the King of Minos - Aridnae - falls in love with him and she gives him the knowledge and tools he needs to defeat the Minotaur and escape the labyrinth - weapons to fight the monster and string to guide his way out. In doing this Aridnae betrays her father the King and Theseus promises to marry her if he survives.

Theseus slays the minotaur and escapes the maze then sails away from the island with Aridnae. But, perhaps carried away with his success and praise of his heroism, Theseus leaves Aridnae behind on a remote island and abandons her, breaking his marriage promise. (Some versions say the Goddess Athena told him to leave Ardinae behind, but that’s a cop-out added to the story later to absolve him of responsibility. It’s much more fitting with the fatally flawed heroes of Greek myth that he suffers an attack of hubris, rather than divine instruction.). Then, as Theseus sails back home, he forgets to change his sails and his father, watching for his return, sees the black sails and assumes his son is dead, to which he then throws himself off a cliff in suicide.

Theseus proved his Strength and Skill but failed the test of Honour and he suffers tremendous guilt over his father’s death at his mistake.

What this story tells us is that the Labyrinth itself is fundamentally a grand and holistic test of character as much as brains and brawn - a test that extends far beyond just the walls of the maze - Aridnae, Thesus’ father, the King of Minos, they were all part of the test that gave the Labyrinth purpose.

In the interesting from Phillip Coppens - The Labyrinth Way - explores the wider history of Labyrinths that span cultures and civilisations. He also makes an observation that is central to the idea of the Labyrinth in ‪‎Gothic‬‪‎Horror‬and Weird Fiction. 

“In folklore, across the world, it is said that the soul travels in a straight line. A labyrinth, however, is anything but straight and it was therefore said that a labyrinth could both catch the soul and keep it in one location.

This idea was at the heart of the Labyrinths I tried to construct in the three books of ‘The Transgressions Cycle’. Not just physical puzzle-spaces which gave good dramatic mechanics, but the labyrinth as a concept for a soul trapped in a purgatory as far from the straight-line travel their ‘soul’ might naturally travel. From a basis in ‪‎historical‬ ‪fiction‬ the Labyrinths of the Transgressions books where grown out of the periods and places of the story’s setting - the catacombs of a quarantine station in the late 1800’s, the twisted, rusting, dilapidated buildings of an island whaling station in the 1930’s depression, and the underground crypts of a colonial cemetery about to be deconsecrated in the 1950’s. These labyrinths are story ideas that not only give plenty of opportunity to deliver on the gothic, thrill the genre promises to the audience, but more importantly provide the narrative means to Trap a Soul and Test it. 

And that’s what my characters became; people for whom there is no way forward to atone for their transgressions until they have found away out of the labyrinths they have stumbled into. And the only way out is to pass the test - a test that, as with Theseus and the Minotaur, will be greater and more wide reaching that just finding a way out of the dark…

Book 2 of - The Scrimshaw Marionette - is out now from Simon & Schuster Australia


Historical Fiction - Story, Time and Place

Historical Fiction is more than just stories set in the past. The heart of great historical fiction lies in identifying moments from the past that represent times of critical mass, get change, or cross-roads for human history. Such moments will invariably be those that generate the most dramatic pressure and the most engaging stories.

For me in writing The Scrimshaw Marionette the choice of period setting was about identifying a timethat embodied both an extreme low point for humanity - a time when society was broken and bottoming-out - and at the same time, a time of great transformation, the ending of one era and the start of something new.  This combination of forces within a specific time period would generate a storyworld that encapsulated desperation and despair and yet also a kind of redemptive hope that things might be better and different in the future. To find that time period would be to find a history and a place that mirrored the character story I wanted to tell. 

So, for The Scrimshaw Marionette, I became entranced by the Great Depression of the 1930’s; not only because of the great dramatic pressure and struggle that stems from such an economic collapse, but also because the Depression comes in the inter-war period, a time that saw the shutting down of old industry and the birth of the new, the final fading of old colonial ideologies and a great transformation in the way communities defined themselves. 

From that bigger picture came the specifics born of research and and reference that framed the Truth around which the Fiction would be woven.  

The first impetus was a story told by my father-in-law about his father and uncle as young men desperate for work, leaving Sydney and setting out on foot to walk the hundred miles south to Wollongong. Their hope was employment in the shipping docks of Port Kembla. It was a road I had travelled many times, one that winds its way over a high escapement and through rough bush land. I couldn’t imagine what it would have been like to walk all that way though such terrain on foot without modern roads. That image of a long journey in hope of something better far away from the world you know promoted me to work backwards to the push factors that would drive someone to take such an action. This line lead the specifics of life in the depression - the ‘hungry mile’ along the Sydney docks, the shanty towns of the homeless at La Perouse, and finally to the eviction riots and the battle waged by the Unemployed Workers Movement against the police eviction squads. From this I fell into a rich vein of reports, accounts and vibrant imagery that described the eviction riots of my own neighbourhood of Newtown in Sydney’s inner-west in the 1930’s.  

It’s here that ‘Trove’ (created by the National Library of Australia) proves to be one of the most valuable resources an historical fiction writer could wish for - an online archive of newspapers that is fully searchable and covers a wide number of publications and time periods. It didn’t take long trawling through Trove to find vivid and varying accounts of the eviction riots from Glebe, Surry Hills and Newtown.  

What particularly grabbed me was the imagery of the riots, of houses described as barricaded with ‘sandbags and barbed wire’. A great many of the men who found themselves on the Hungry Mile and homeless in the depression were war veterans of the western front, and the idea of the imagery of the trenches, of dirty, hand-to-hand, fighting with improvised weapons, playing out in the streets of Sydney seemed utterly extraordinary. And in may ways that’s what great historical fiction does, it takes a factual past and presents it as ‘extra-ordinary’. A great article entitled ‘Anatomy of an Eviction Riot’ served as basis weaving a fictitious story through the factual accounts of the riots.  

This collision of forces - the Depression, the eviction riots, the battles with police - drove my characters out of the city and onto that desperate walking path south that my father-in-law had told me about. And this brought them to the other fertile historical cross-roads I wanted to explore, the Whaling Industry and the last of the whalers. 

Whaling had been a vibrant and economically rich part of the colony’s early decades. Up until the 1830’s whaling, sealing and fishing from coastal stations produced greater export earnings than agriculture. But by the 1930’s the boom was over and the numbers of humpback and southern right-whales had been so drastically depleted that the viability of the whaling stations was near exhausted.  

And it’s at this moment, when an old tradition carried out by a dying generation is near its end, that it becomes a potent storyworld for historical fiction. When my character, William, arrives at the remote Whaling Station of Flukespade Island, he is arriving at a settlement that is all but dead. Broken, rusted, falling apart, the whalers are catching their last. But such men have no where else to go, they know no other life. And so they hunt the last whales they can find. And into that dying world comes a man who is running away from the Depression and his own personal demons. He is escaping into something that is already dying. The micro storyworld of a remote island whaling station that is the remains of a dying industry - one that has no place in the modern world, becomes the exciting re-imagined vehicle for a darkly Gothic narrative.

The classical crumbling, broken-down castle of traditional gothic fiction is here replaced by the rusted, crumbling and labyrinthine buildings of the whaling port. The old family trapped by the ghosts of their past in the castle estate, are transposed to the last sailors to hold out on the island. Just as classic Gothic fiction is set on the back of the Enlightenment, where superstition is giving way to enlightened and rational thinking - yet where old superstitions do not die easily - so to is that same friction playing out in the whaling port of the 1930’s. 

For all the supernatural and horror mechanics in The Scrimshaw Marionette - possessed children’s dolls that puppeteer the living into the sea, and apparitions of the dead haunting the living - it is the interplay of historical worlds that is the real core of the book. The time period and setting is not arbitrary, Historical Fiction should choose its history carefully.  


The Scrimshaw Marionette

It’s Publication Day for my latest book THE SCRIMSHAW MARIONETTE - second in The Transgressions Cycle collection.

It’s a story that immerses itself in imagery, place and history that has long haunted my imagination - a story of Whaling and Sailors, the hardships of the Great Depression, and the Ghosts that haunt remote cold Islands of the deep dark sea…

After the death of his wife by his own failing, William flees the hardship of depression-era Sydney with his young daughter, Rosa. Battling his addictions, William travels far south and finds work on a remote island whaling station. But when Rosa finds a small scrimshaw marionette doll under the wharf, a restless spirit awakens to puppeteer the living and drag them into the sea. Grappling with his sanity and reason, William must confront the truth of the past and put the restless marionette ghost to rest to save his daughter and himself…”

The Scrimshaw Marionette is availiable now