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Melanie Jackson

Melanie Jackson

Photo: Bart Jackson, 2021

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.




The Spy in the Alley, a Dinah Galloway mystery. 2002, Orca
The Man in the Moonstone, a Dinah Galloway mystery. 2003, Orca
The Mask on the Cruise Ship, a Dinah Galloway mystery. 2004, Orca
The Summer of the Spotted Owl, a Dinah Galloway mystery. 2005, Orca
Shadows on the Train, a Dinah Galloway mystery. 2007, Orca
Queen of Disguises, a Dinah Galloway mystery. 2009, Orca
The Big Dip. 2009, Orca
The Midnight-Blue Marble . 2009, Gumboot Books, 2009
Fast Slide. 2010, Orca
High Wire. 2012, Orca
Eye Sore. 2015, Orca
Death Drop. 2016, Orca
Medusa's Scream. 2017, Orca
Tick Tock Terror. 2019, Orca
The Fifth Beethoven. 2020, Crwth Press


Silver Birch Award nomination for The Mask on the Cruise Ship, 2006
Rocky Mountain Book Award nominee for The Spy in the Alley, 2004
BC Chocolate Lily Awards, second prize for The Man in the Moonstone, 2005
Ontario Forest of Reading Silver Birch nominee for 2005, The Mask on the Cruise Ship
BC Chocolate Lily Awards nominee for The Mask on the Cruise Ship, 2006
CTV News Summer Reads Choice for The Summer of the Spotted Owl, 2006
Ontario Forest of Reading Silver Birch nominee for Shadows on the Train, 2008
Ontario Library Association Best Bets for Shadows on the Train, 2007
BC Chocolate Lily Awards nominee for Shadows on the Train, 2009
Manitoba Young Readers' Choice Awards for Shadows on the Train, 2011
Canadian Children's Book Centre Best Books for Shadows on the Train, 2010
Resource Links' Years Best for Fast Slide, 2010
CCBC Year's Best for The Big Dip, 2010
CCBC Starred Selection, Best Books for High Wire, 2012
CCBC Best of Genre for Medusa's Scream, 2018
TD-CCBC Touring Author for Medusa's Scream, 2018
Eligible for National Public Readings Program:


Are you available for public presentations and/or workshops:
Presentation Description

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.

Presentation Length:
One hour
Teacher/librarian/parent groups
Audience Size:
Up to 100 if in-person More if a virtual presentation
Workshop Description:

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.

Workshop Length:
one hour
Workshop Intended Audience:
Grades 8-9
Workshop Audience Size:
Maximum 10 students, in-person or online
Workshop Fee:
$250 an hour, or less if part of a mystery unit, as described in School Visits, below.
Are you available for school visits?:
School Presentation Description:

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.

School Presentation Length:
One hour. For the mystery/creative writing unit I teach, it's one hour per day for two, three or four days, or more, depending on the arrangement. I've done extra classes for students interested in taking the story outlines they write for me further.
School Intended Audience:
One hour to 1.5 hours, depending on the length of the class block
School Audience Size:
About 60 students, or two classes, for in-person visits. I've done virtual visits with several classes at a time.
School Presentation Fee:
$250 an hour for a single presentation; less for two. For each hour of a mystery unit, less also.
Interested in participating in the Union’s Ontario Writers-in-the-Schools program:
Interested in participating in the Northern Ontario WITS program: