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A Conversation with C.K. Kelly Martin, Author of THE SWEETEST THING YOU CAN SING (with a giveaway!)

A brand new YA book dealing with some serious–and scary–issues.

Follow the rest of the tour here!


Thanks so much for agreeing to be with us today, C.K.!

I’m happy to be here, Becky. Thank you for having me over!


What 5 things should readers know about you?

  1. I’m a feminist—which everyone should be since what it means is that you believe in the equality of the sexes. My favourite quote on the topic is, “Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.”
  2. I’m a big movie fan, so much so that I got distracted from my major in English and ended up graduating with a BA in Film Studies instead.
  3. I’m crazy about dogs but don’t have one at the moment since I currently live in an apartment. When my husband and I are out walking around I’m constantly pointing out the cute dogs, especially the westies and wheatens.
  4. I’m an Irish citizen as well as a Canadian one. I lived in Ireland for several years in the nineties and constantly pine for Dublin.
  5. I can’t get through the day without drinking at least one can of Coca-Cola but usually two. If it hits noon or so and I haven’t had one yet all I can think about is getting my hands on one (yes, I’m addicted!).

Great quote! And Coca-Cola is a much safer addiction than so many others (or so I keep telling myself re: my Pepsi Max one…)


Tell us all about your main characters—who are they? What makes them tick? Most importantly, what one thing would they need to have with them if stranded on a desert isle? 😉

Fifteen-year-old Serena finds herself of more interest to the opposite sex after she suddenly loses weight, almost accidentally in the wake of a crisis involving her favourite older brother. But she quickly finds out the new sexual attention isn’t the good thing she expected.

Devin is the older brother Serena admired for years, until he became a drug addict and broke the family’s heart with his toxic behavior and, finally, his disappearance.

Gage is the guy Serena meets after several bad experiences with boys has led her to give up on the opposite sex. He’s very different from the other guys she’s known. He has a secret that makes his life very complicated and requires a level of maturity older than his 19 years.

On a desert island the one thing each they would need:

Serena – the baby blue scooter she’s been saving for, in order to travel around the island.

Devin – the thing he’d wanted most is the one he needs to get away from so I think the desert island could ultimately be a positive experience for him! But let’s give him a pencil and notebook so his math whiz self can distract himself with equations.

Gage – message in a bottle updates about the secret at home, because it’s one of the most important things in the world to him.

I think this is the first time we’ve had a character who actually might be better off on the fictional island! 😉


Where did the inspiration for this book come from?

When I first started writing YA I did a lot of research about teenagers and sex because I was aware a lot of the current issues and experiences are different than from when I was a young person. For instance, most boys now have their first exposure to online pornography at eleven years old. In a recent poll of young women almost 8 out of 10 said pornography had led to pressure on girls to behave and look a certain way, while 66% said “it would be easier growing up if pornography was less easy to access for young people.” So the idea that the hardcore pornography rampant on the internet is negatively impacting girls’ relationships and sexual experiences definitely helped give rise to this book. It’s tricky enough, as a young person, trying to negotiate healthy and safe sexual experiences without all the toxic, cruel ideas and images about women out there. I think this is something we need to talk a lot more about as a society and combat with exponentially better and more comprehensive sex ed than we have in this country right now.

The Internet is great, but scary too…in some ways it makes growing up today much scarier than it was 20 (ahem, -ish) years ago…


How long have you been writing, and what (or who) inspired you to start?

I started writing my first young adult novel in 1999 while living in Ireland but have been writing short stories since I was 7. So it was all the books I loved in my early childhood that inspired me to write my own stories in the very beginning–things like Winnie the Pooh, Madeline, Babar, Dr. Seuss books, and the fairytale and nursery rhyme books my parents used to read to me. But it was watching the series “Party of Five” that actually inspired me to write young adult books specifically. Before then it had never occurred to me.

TV show as initial inspiration—that’s new too! 🙂


What do you like best about being a writer? What is the most challenging part?

Being a writer is like being an actor in that it allows you to step into someone else’s shoes and experience their lives. That’s my favourite part of being a writer. It’s like having a hundred lives. I’m a big-time introvert which makes any kind of schmoozing or public speaking a dreaded thing, so that’s definitely the toughest part. I’m so not the kind of person who can go up to folks in a bookstore and tell them they should buy my book because it’s awesome.

LOL, I hear you. It’s so much easier to write than speak to strangers.


What are you working on right now? What can readers look for from you in the next year?

I have two sci-fi middle grades I’ve been working on getting in shape and a finished contemporary YA love story that I’m also hoping to get out there, but I don’t have release deals/ dates for these projects yet so please keep your fingers crossed for them!

Crossed! Good luck 🙂


What authors and/or books have inspired you?

Essentially every novel, movie and play that I admire is an inspiration. Songs too. So it’s difficult to pick out specific influences. There are just so many! Everything from punk-folk musician Billy Bragg’s music to the 1989 play “Love and Unidentified Human Remains” (by Canadian playwright Brad Fraser). But as far as authors who I read when I was young that made me want to be a writer, Judy Blume and L.M. Montgomery loom large.

Two favorite authors from my childhood!


What are you currently reading? What are your thoughts about it so far?

I’m finally reading John Irving’s In one Person, which is about a bisexual man who falls in love with a transgender woman during a period when it was extremely rare to be queer and out which makes for a very compelling point of view to explore. Because I just recently finished rereading one of Irving’s earlier novels, A Prayer for Owen Meany, I’m finding some of the similarities in characters and setting really interesting too.

I do like reading two books by the same author back-to-back. It’s always interesting to compare.


If you had to “sell” this book in a single Tweet, what would you say?

The disappearance of a 15 yo girl’s brother haunts her as she has trouble with boys in a society that both sexualizes & shames young women.


Thanks again for being here with us today, C.K.!

Keep reading to find out more about C.K. and her new book, THE SWEETEST THING YOU CAN SING–and the giveaway.

C.K. KELLY MARTIN’s bestselling debut novel, I Know It’s Over, was published in 2008. It was followed by One Lonely Degree, The Lighter Side of Life and Death, My Beating Teenage Heart and the sci-fi thriller, Yesterday. A graduate of the Film Studies program at York University, Martin loves good books, movies, music, web design, and Ireland. She currently resides in Oakville, Ontario.Author Links:
The Sweetest Thing You Can Sing
by C.K. Kelly Martin
Publication date: September 1st 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult

Losing weight over the summer gains Serena some popularity, but it also means discovering first-hand the pains of being a fifteen-year-old girl in a world that both sexualizes and shames young women. After narrowly avoiding exploitation in a shortlived relationship, Serena aligns with a new friend who was the victim of an explicit image that was shared at school. When Serena finds herself in a relationship with a new guy, she is surprised to find a different set of expectations. But have her previous experiences damaged her too much to make it work? As Serena struggles to find who she is as opposed to who she is expected to be, she begins sighting Devin – her older brother who disappeared months earlier.


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  1. I love the tweet questions and always like to see what the authors come up with! 🙂 And omg I have a 4yo and I don’t even what to think about what he’ll be able to access with the internet nowadays. Plus, going to high school with smartphones and no privacy is so scary for me. I’M glad I did my stupid crazp before that all existed. O_O

  2. LOL, I figured 🙂

    I have teenagers right now, and it’s scary enough. Just thinking about what they’ll be able to do/have/access in ten or so years, when you have a teenager? (Shivers)

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