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That famous bah-bah-bah-BOOM opening: Beethoven intended his Fifth Symphony’s first notes to represent opportunity knocking. In my new young-adult novel for Crwth Press, The Fifth Beethoven, my protagonist gets his own opportunity. Nate plays piano loudly and with enthusiasm, if not finesse. A developer known for less-than-ethical renovictions gives Nate a summer lunchtime gig playing in the courtyard of a new luxury office tower. With the irritable ghost of Beethoven coaching him, Nate improves his playing. But Beethoven, who famously snubbed Emperor Napoleon, also inspires Nate to make a dramatic moral choice.

The story reflects my love for Vancouver—and my concerns about
our beautiful city getting too developed, too fast.

Portrait by Joseph Karl Stieler, 1820

This just in! A review of The Fifth Beethoven from Vancouver Heritage Foundation benefactor Johanna Hickey:

“I’ve just finished reading it  and I absolutely loved it. It’s delightful and the whole plot is so clever, as is the title. I think what I really liked about it is that it is set in Vancouver and the fact that I could identify with so many of the issues.

“I loved the music theme. And I really liked the book’s example of the almighty big developer crushing the little people. That is so true in this city and is allowed to happen time and time again. Hopefully a book such as this will help make young people aware of this serious problem.

“In my mind’s eye, I could see all the locations in Vancouver [used in The Fifth Beethoven]. Plus, I could envision the characters, who came across as real.”

…Thank you, Johanna! And thanks VHF for including The Fifth Beethoven as an item in its 2020 online auction. What makes the timing extra special is that 2020 is Beethoven’s 250th birthday.

And hey, don’t miss a Beet. Follow me @melaniejackson.

And now, to make overtures of thanks to TD Canadian Book Week

I was tickled pink, quite pinkly pink, in fact, to be a 2018 TD Canadian Book Week author. Thanks to all the volunteers, staff and schools who welcomed me so warmly to Quebec.

ByChasTreeNow, back to our regular refrain…

Getting kids to read shouldn’t be a challenge. Shouldn’t put them in a crescendo of confusion. The age-old attraction of reading is all in the story. A good conflict, a puzzling problem and accessible language: Now that’s a ride young-adult readers will climb aboard. In this blog, I share my adventures and enthusiasm as a children’s/YA author in writing mysteries. Thanks for visiting–and don’t forget to glance over your shoulder now and then. A plot twist may be coming at you!

Read all my blog posts, including Breaking up isn’t that hard to do–at least, not if we’re talking paragraphs. It’s advice I share with Grade 8s at the Vancouver school where I teach a mystery unit every spring.

2 responses »

  1. Andrea Grimaud

    Hi Melanie, I hope your visit to Quebec and then dealing with the time change didn’t leave you ragged. I enjoyed your presentation last Wednesday evening at Selwyn House and following that I came home and searched for the link to that Youtube video I mentioned to you. And I’m pleased to say that I found it ..

    If for some reason the link doesn’t work, just go to Youtube and enter the words Agatha Christie’s Garden. It’s very interesting and covers not just her garden, but much of her personal life story and her writing as well. It lasts one hour and I’ve watched it a few times over the past few years.

    I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Andrea,

      Thank you so much for writing to me! I had tremendous fun at Selwyn, and enjoyed speaking with you afterward. Like you, I am a total Agatha fan. In fact in the mystery unit I teach every year here at a Vancouver high school I assign the kids to read The Case of the Perfect Maid, starring Miss Marple.

      I look forward to checking out the link you sent. In fact, I’m thinking I could show that in class to the Grade 8s!

      Sorry to be late in replying. Speaking of the course I teach, I came home after the fabulous, dream-of-a-lifetime Book Week and after a few extra days we spent in Montreal––and then had about 90 student stories to mark and comment on. But now I’m done and can resurface :).

      I hope you enjoy lots of mystery reading over the summer. The perfect time! If you haven’t read The Woman In The Window, that will provide you with some Agatha-worthy surprises.

      I hope our paths cross again! It was such a pleasure to wind up my day by chatting with you.

      With warm wishes,




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