About MeScottish-born and mystery-minded, I write mystery stories for young adults and middle-graders. Inspired by Hitchcock, whose work I use in my presentations, I + read more like to combine plot-twisty suspense with humour. For example, in Tick Tock Terror (Orca 2019), a con artist tricks a young climber into stashing stolen loot at the top of an amusement ride based on Poe's The Pit and the Pendulum. In The Fifth Beethoven (Crwth Press 2020), a pianist who rocks out Ludwig gets a summer lunchtime gig playing in the courtyard of a luxury high-rise––only to encounter a distinctly wrong note when a thief strikes.

I was honoured, tickled pinkly pink in fact, to be selected a 2018 TD-CCBC Book Week touring author. I had the pleasure of visiting schools in Quebec, presenting on mystery writing and reading from my 2017 novel Medusa's Scream.

I also enjoy giving school presentations, and teach a mystery unit several times a year to a Vancouver secondary school.

With a journo background, I'm also a business/advertising writer/editor. In 2016 I was honoured to receive the University of Toronto's Arbor Award for contributions to the U of T alumni community.

Contact info: Show Less

My Work Speaker Info Contact Me
You May Know Me For:
    Literature Types
  • Picture Books
  • Middle Grade Fiction
  • YA Fiction

Published WorksThe Dinah Galloway mysteries (Orca): The Spy in the Alley, The Man in the Moonstone, The Mask on the Cruise Ship, The Summer of the Spotted Owl, Shadows on the Train, Queen of Disguises. For ages 8-12.

Napoleon Is Winking, short story in The World of Stories (Gumboot Books, 2009).

The Big Dip (Orca, 2009)

The Midnight-Blue Marble (Gumboot Books, 2009)

Fast Slide (young-adult suspenser, Orca, 2010)

Comet Boy (younger readers, Caramel Tree, 2011)

High Wire (young-adult suspenser, Orca, 2012)

The Legend of Rip Van Winkle (younger readers, Caramel Tree, 2014)

Eye Sore (young-adult suspenser, Orca, spring 2015)

Death Drop (young-adult suspenser with references to the myth of Persephone, Orca, fall 2016)

Medusa's Scream (young-adult suspenser with references to the myth of Medusa and to Scottish history, Orca, fall 2017)

Tick Tock Terror (Poe-themed y/a suspense about a young climber who must out-con the con who tricked him into getting involved in a theft, Orca, January 2019)

The Fifth Beethoven (Crwth Press, 2020): The Ormsby Re new says, "With all the hallmarks of a good mystery — a quirky David and Goliath plot with contemporary relevance, a complex web of clues, an array of suspects, and a satisfying solution built up to, but not fully revealed, until the final pages — The Fifth Beethoven succeeds on the suspense level. It also gives a satisfying performance on both the social critique and music education levels."

Speaking InformationClues to the Art of a Mystery: exploring story structure and elements (catchy beginning, character, conflict, suspense, metaphors, etc.), as well as the value + read more of using classic myths in both storytelling (e.g., Death Drop) and in life. Readings from one or more of my Y/A mystery novels, with accompanying slide show, video clips and summing-up handouts. For Grades 4-9. Also, I teach creative writing unit, culminating with students creating their own stories, which I comment on and mark.

Contact info:
Show Less

    I will visit:
  • Vancouver
  • Coast
  • Lower Mainland
  • Gulf and Vancouver Islands
  • Thompson Okanagan
  • Northern British Columbia
  • Kootenay Rockies
  • The Territories
  • Canada - beyond BC
  • USA
  • International

    I Present to Age Groups:
  • Grades 4-6
  • Grades 7-8
  • High School

Request Booking Info

TestimonialsMelanie is an incredibly engaging speaker and presenter. She gave a presentation to a group of + read more grade 5 students who visited the Mount Pleasant Library. She talked to the children about the art of writing a mystery.

Melanie used some superbly eye-catching visuals in her presentation, including a colourful and playful chart illustrating the “rollercoaster” writing process, and some excerpts from an Albert Hitchcock film to demonstrate plot development and several writing devices.

The children found Melanie’s interactive, audience-centred approach both intriguing and engaging. They were so intrigued, that, after Melanie’s presentation, they were inspired to try writing their own mysteries, purely of their own volition. Their teacher, Ms. Scoretz, brought some of their drafts to the library to share with me and Melanie, who, to her credit, cares enough to follow up.
Melanie’s memorable visit was truly remarkable. She clearly has the knowledge, the skills, the knack, the creativity and that elusive je ne sais quoi that we all wish every public presenter had. If you have the opportunity to avail yourself of this woman’s considerable gifts, you will not be disappointed. 
—Uta Stolbenko, VPL Children's Librarian
Show Less
Melanie Jackson has a fantastic presentation on how to write a great mystery. She showed a + read more PowerPoint presentation, did readings from her many books and showed clips from Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch A Thief to give examples for each point she discussed. Her mystery books all have BC settings and support the social studies and science curriculum at many grade levels as well as other excursions teachers take their students on.

Our Grade 7s go to Playland at the end of the year. Many classes read her book The Big Dip before her visit and before their trip to the PNE/Playland where it is set. I would recommend her presentation for both intermediate in elementary and for Grades 8 to 10 in secondary—especially for creative writing and English. Our students enjoyed the books and the teachers found them to be good read-alouds.”

—Janet Mumford, Teacher-Librarian, Richmond School District Show Less
I am happy to have the opportunity to write this letter on behalf of author Melanie Jackson who has + read more been a visiting author in my Grade 8 Byng Arts Mini School English classes over the last few years. Ms. Jackson does a tremendous job teaching a unit on “the mystery

Melanie works with 3 blocks of approximately 30 students per block, teaching each block 3 times as well as marking their stories at the end of the unit and providing in-depth and very valuable feedback to each student.

The unit has been a huge success each year with now well over 300 students gaining artistically and academically from the experience. I truly feel privileged to be able to work with someone as talented and exceptional with students as is Melanie Jackson...a tremendous asset to the education of my students here at Lord Byng Secondary.

—Amy Hughes, English Dept. Head/Theatre Teacher, Lord Byng Secondary, Vancouver Show Less

Awards and Recognition:The Spy in the Alley (2002), a Rocky Mountain Book Award 2004 nominee.

The Man in the + show more Moonstone (2003), Second Prize Winner, the 2004-05 BC Chocolate Lily Book Awards

The Mask on the Cruise Ship (2004), Ontario Silver Birch Award nominee, 2006; BC Chocolate Lily Book Awards nominee, 2005-06

The Summer of the Spotted Owl (2005), CTV News 2006 Summer Reads Choice

Shadows on the Train, Silver Birch nominee, 2008; Ontario Library Association Best Bets 2007; Chocolate Lily Award nominee 2008-09

The Big Dip, Year's Best List, 2009, Resource Links

The Queen of Disguises, Manitoba Young Readers' Choice Awards, 2011; a CCBC Best Book of 2010

Fast Slide, Year's Best List, 2010, Resource Links

The Big Dip, one of the Canadian Children's Book Centre's Best Books 2011

High Wire, CCBC starred selection, Best Books, 2012

University of Toronto Arbor Alumni Award, 2016

Medusa's Scream, named a CCBC best of genre, 2018

TD-CCBC Book Week touring author, 2018

"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." –– Horn Book. Show Less