Melanie is the author of such middle-grade/young-adult suspensers with Orca Book Publishers as The Big Dip and Death Drop, as well as the Dinah Galloway Mystery Series. For Medusa's Scream, a Canadian Children's Book Centre Best Book, Middle Readers, 2018, Melanie was a TD-CCBC Book Week author. (See these and other of her books, below.)
Booklist on her Edgar Allan Poe-themed Tick Tock Terror (2019): "Jackson’s gripping, first-person, plot-driven novel ask readers to consider self-confidence vs. over-active ego; right vs. wrong…A suspenseful addition to high-low collections."
The British Columbia Review on The Fifth Beethoven (Crwth Press, 2020): “Scottish-born Vancouverite Melanie Jackson is a veteran writer of mysteries for young people, and it shows: she hits the right notes with this mystery for tweens and early teens. Not only does the mystery thread keep you coming back; the plot also explores all-too-relevant inequities and injustices, while educating young readers about the coolness of classical music and musicians — all at a quick tempo and in a light hearted tone. ...all the hallmarks of a good mystery…with contemporary relevance, a complex web of clues, an array of suspects, and a satisfying solution.”
Horn Book on the Dinah Galloway series:
"Jackson spares no artistic expense ... She knows how to write a full-bodied scene, gauges correctly that it's worth her time to drolly title her chapters ('Sour Notes with Piano Man'), crafts worthy subplots and delivers strong characterizations of even second-banana players (a painfully self-conscious new teacher; a friend obsessed with trees). It's a testament to Jackson's command of her material that her main currency, her wit ... is not incongruous with the books' dark side."Melanie regularly teaches a mystery/creative writing unit to Vancouver secondary-school students. She also does stand-alone presentations/readings for schools."
The orange cat plus other, less important info:
A former journalist, now a business/marketing writer/editor, Melanie lives in Vancouver with her husband and scene-stealing orange cat. Her volunteer work includes mentoring students in creative writing for the Vancouver School Board; editing and laying out TWUC's BC-Yukon WestWords newsletter; and co-handling social media for the Children Writers and Illustrators of BC. She's also on the University of Toronto's Vanoouver alumni committee, and before the pandemic organized alum book club meetings for eight years.
In 2016 Melanie received a University of Toronto Alumni Arbor Award.
1. Getting kids to read, or taking the yawn out of a yarn: I'm the author of several novels in the Orca Currents series featuring fast-paced, simply written books that appeal both to regular readers who like suspense and plot twists, and to reluctant readers. I describe strategies for engaging young readers. I also argue that there's no stigma to preferring simply written books, c.f. Ernest Hemingway winning the Nobel Prize for Literature. Also, simply written books encourage kids to develop direct, to-the-point writing, always welcome in a fast-paced information age when we value, and in fact desperately need, communications in all fields to be straight and to the point.
2. The scoop on journalism: I'm a journo with writing creds from, e.g., the Vancouver Sun, the Toronto Star, Vancouver magazine, Western Living, Chatelaine and most recently READ, in which I have a forthcoming in-depth profile of Canadian opera singer Rachel Krehm. I offer a presentation on just what is involved in being a reporter, from the five Ws and an H to conducting successful, i.e., information-yielding interviews, to snappily writing up your story. Oh, and to acquiring a thick skin when your editor demands changes you don't like. My presentation includes exercises in spotting a story angle and writing ledes; also lively slides and video clips.
Structure of a story, including short, fun writing exercises. If it's part of a mystery unit, students in smaller groups will submit story outlines or stories, which I review with each of them during the workshop.
The workshop version of my journo presentation features slightly longer writing exercises and reviewing each student's story from start to finish.
Regular presentation: the structure of a story, including readings from one of my novels, a fun slide show and video clips.
Mystery unit: the structure of a story, as above; second class is discussion of a reading I've assigned and a more in-depth creative writing class. After marking students' outlines or complete stories I may hold a subsequent, smaller class(es) to discuss each student's outline/stories.
The scoop on journalism, as described above.