Friday, December 16, 2011

Official Ignition Preview

Okay, so this is kind of exciting for me.
I'm officially releasing a sneak peak of my upcoming novel "Ignition".
I wont release any details on this chapter but I hope you enjoy it.
I'm not sure how I'll be releasing "Ignition". I'm hoping that Brighter Books will pick it up, but I also need to make sure it is out in time for Fan Expo. A delicate balancing act to be sure, but hopefully one that pays off.
Here you go: Feel free to leave a comment or whatever... I always appreciate them!

IGNITION - Preview (rough draft) - Matti McLean

There was a loud rattling sound; like the world had exploded beneath his feet. Before he knew what was happening, the blackness that had blanketed him dispersed. He did not know where he was, but he did know that he was not alone.

“Hello?” He called out to the darkness expecting an answer. When no one responded he called again, this time trying to be more forceful.

“I heard you the first time,” the darkness responded. Strange that it sounded distant and bored by Micah’s intrusion into the limbo he now fund himself in. Micah looked around, but could only see grey. He couldn’t feel anything around him; as if he was floating in midair.

“Who said that?”

“I’m a friend... I think.” The voice was so quiet that Micah could hardly hear him. “Are you the one who’s coming to save me?”

“Highly unlikely.” Micah said as he tried to take in his surroundings. “Where am I?”

“I think you’re lost.”

“How observant of you.” Micah said calling out to the massless void. “Where are you?”

“I can show you if you’d like.” The voice said. Suddenly the surroundings began to change. Shapes began to form and shift around and he watched as grass began to appear below his feet. Clouds began to appear as a sky took shape above him. The world around him came into view, and it didn't look friendly. Everything around him looked distorted, as if nature itself had turned malicious. He took a few steps through the grass and found it rough and harsh against his ankles. Before long he found himself on an old dirt path which he followed until it lead to an old, ragged bench. It looked to have been a bright, white bench at some point; but was now tattered with chipped paint and splinters with a single ragged balloon hanging from its planks. The bench overlooked a massive cliff that lead down to a series of dark waves that churned angrily below him.

“No one else has ever been here before.” The voice said calmly, and as Micah looked up he finally realized who he was talking to. There, standing in front of him was a boy who looked to be no older than thirteen. His hair was brown and ragged, and his face had big, brown, sad eyes that looked wise beyond his years. “Makes me wonder how you got here. What do you want?”

“I don't even know where I am.” Micah said.

“So you want to know where you are?”

“Well... yes. To start.” Micah said.

“Alright. But you'll have to ask nicely.” The boy said without a trace of irony in his voice. Micah looked at him with disbelief for a moment before realizing that the boy was actually being serious.

“Where is this place?” Micah asked.

“It’s my world.” The boy said with a mix of pride and dread.

“It wouldn't be my first choice.” Micah said as he brushed his hand against what looked like a painted tree. It's bark was rough and jagged on his skin.

“It's not mine either.” The boy said as scratched at his hand. “It used to be nice.”

“What happened?”

“The world happened and now... I don't really know... I can’t control it anymore... I'm sorry...”

“Why are you apologizing?” Micah asked.

“I can normally control these things.”

“What do you mean?” Micah asked. “Who are you?”

“I’m Jude.” The boy said.

“I'm Micah.”

“I know.”

“And how do you know that?”

“I just do. I know lots of things. I can do things...” the boy stopped himself from saying anymore, but Micah could tell by the look on his face that he wanted to share.

“What kind of things?”

“Don’t worry, you’ll find out soon enough.” Jude said. “I mean you’re here now... That has to mean something.”

“I’m sorry, I’m really not following any of this.”

“You don’t have to. Not yet anyway. All will be explained soon enough I guess. Or maybe you just figure it out. I don't know...” He looked out across the ocean at something Micah couldn't see and sighed. After a moment he spoke again. “This is my place... It’s where I go to escape.”

“Not very friendly.” Micah said.

“It used to be...” The boy said, and suddenly, for a second Micah saw this world as it used to be. The sky was clear and bright with gentle clouds scattered between the sunlight. The bench was a freshly painted white with two balloons tied to the back. The grass was green and lush and stretched as far as the eye could see behind them, while the cliff in front of them overlooked a crystal clear ocean that was still enough to see to the bottom, even from such a wondrous height. Then, as soon as the vision had appeared, it vanished. The world flipped back and Micah felt a sense of dread like a snake hanging around his shoulders.

“You shouldn’t be here.” Micah said. “We should go somewhere safe.”

“Safe?” The boy laughed. “This is the future. We can't stop it from coming. We can’t avoid it, we should probably just face it head on.” Jude pointed toward the horizon at a series of dark clouds. “A storm is coming.”

“So I'll get an umbrella.” Micah said reaching his hand out to the boy. He wasn't sure where he was going to go, but he knew he had to take Jude away from here.

“We are the umbrella.” Jude said. Just as Micah was about to make contact with him, his hand vanished off of his body leaving just an arm. There was no pain, but he could feel himself slowly being erased from this world. Then Jude began to dematerialize right before his eyes and the two of them watched as the world around them dispersed into nothingness. “If you want to help you'll find us.”

“Us?” Micah asked. “Where do I find you?”

“Just wake up.”


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Cd Review : Marit Larsen "Spark"

So I've always wanted to write cd reviews. I find the experience of listening to a cd both enchanting and incredibly rewarding. Being able to connect with the artist in such a delightful and beautiful way is almost always enchanting. Upon discovering Marit Larsen's new cd "Spark", I knew that this was the cd I wanted to start with. I hope you enjoy my first non-fiction piece here!

Marit Larsen's "Spark" - By Matti McLean

There are few artists I hold in such reverence as Marit Larsen. I have been a fan of her unique voice since she was one half of the musical duet M2M with Marion Ravn, but have also had the unique privlage of growing up alongside her music. From her early days as a pop star, to her excellent solo cds (Under the Surface – 2005 and The Chase – 2008 respectfully) I have grown alongside her and her unique portrayals of love, loss and life. All this leads up to her latest, and in my opinion, her finest cd to date, “Spark” which was released this November.

“Spark” is a much different cd than her previous two. Marit Larsen has always been defined in my mind by a subtle, beautiful voice that was as poignant as it was exciting. Her lyrics almost always played in sharp contrast to her light and joyous melodies. In opposition to her bright, playful melodies, she arms her poignant lyrics with a sense of impenetrable optimism that seeps through every fabric of her writing.

In “Spark”, we see a more mature outlook on life. Marit sings of harsher realities, more troublesome problems, and all things considered speaks in a much more mature voice on more mature problems. While issues of love and life have been discussed in her previous albums, in “Spark” they contain a much more potent and bittersweet message. The songs this time are gentler, and have a much harsher, lived in quality to them. For the first time, Marit seems to embrace her pain and the heart aches of growing up. Her songs have a new haunting quality to them that is both shocking and cathartic.

In typical Marit Larsen tradition, upon my first play through of her cd, I was almost disappointed. “Spark” initially lacked the quick and easy catchy tunes of “Under the Surface” and initially I thought it lacked the complexities of “The Chase”, but as time went on and I spent more time with the cd, I realized that “Spark” could be her finest and most complex cd yet. The messages of the cd and the songs run much deeper than I could have initially anticipated and as a result, Marit has crafted her finest cd she has yet created.

Some of her finest songs on the cd deal with issues of past relationships, which is an issue that I feel rings particularly close to my life right now. The songs “I can't love you anymore” and “Last night” could be among “To and end”, “Fuel”, “Walls” and “Solid Ground” as the best songs in her repertoire. Her voice echoes more true when she sings with an air of mellancholia, and it's a tone that seeps through her album from the bittersweet opening of “Keeper of the keys”, to the reminiscent ending of “That day”. Her lyrics are reminiscent of Jewel, Joni Mitchell, Stevie Nicks and Sarah Mclachlan all rolled into an etherial voice that carries the songs with such emotion that they become richer with each subsequent listen.

The cd is not without it's faults. Her first single “Coming home” initially lacks the killer hooks of “Don't save me” and “Only a fool”, but despite this the melodies are undeniably catchy, and the lyrics surprisingly sweet providing a nice contrast to the heavier lyrics of other songs on the album. “Have you ever” is a strange offering, pairing an undeniably peppy tune with a somewhat depressing subject matter in a way that is shockingly similar to some of her earlier songs, and “Me and the highway” and “Don't move” seem to be almost out of place on this album. At the same time, their levity is almost needed as the album would be almost depressingly heavy without their infectious hooks.

Overall, “Spark” provides a unique experience that is the logical next step for Marit Larsen. The lyrics are bolder and more personal, the package is more polished and the overall effect of the album is one of heavy emotional turmoil, wrapped in a beautiful package of excitement and bittersweet memories. I have often found emotional catharsis in Larsen's music, and am pleased to find myself continually enrapt in the soulful emotional bliss of her growth in “Spark”. If you are a fan of folk or haunting female voices, I cannot recommend this cd enough.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Well Haiku week may have been a failure, but I did find something interesting...
Last year for Design and Colour (yes, it was an actual class) I did a mockumentary for Vitamin Water. Those who know me in depth will probably know I have a bit of a hate-on for the crap, but just in case you didn't, I wrote a little skit about it which I'd like to share with you now. It was a short thing so don't expect something too crazy.

Vitamin Whater? by Matti McLean

Do you get thirsty? Do you like water? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might be alive! But next time you go to fill up on regular water think again! Because you haven’t tried anything until you try vitamin water!
What makes vitamin water so special? Well in regular water, we don’t put a bunch of random shit into your water. With vitamin water, we do! How do we know it’s better? Just look at the bottle! This bottle of “not” vitamin water is clear! And this bottle of 100% vitamin water is yellow! Just like your piss!
How do we know it’s better? This incredible beverage has the word vitamin in the title, which means that it must be ! And it’s even packaged better. Forget sinks and filtered water, now you can drink your water out of a bottle that only costs 1000% the price of drinking from a tap! Delicious!
So throw away your vitamin supplements, kiss fruit goodbye and prepare yourself for a life of unbelievable energy and excitement with new vitamin water! Scientifically proven to be a beverage!
Now in diet! For all the fatties out there.