What makes a man take on an assumed name and a new identity? There are many reasons. For instance, maybe he’s a criminal who is evading the law, or is in a witness protection program. Perhaps he’s a con man, or even a spy. Or he could be suffering from dissociative disorder. Then again, he might be a performer using a stage name, or a writer doing business under a pen name. The possibilities are vast.
I mention this because I recently learned, to my surprise, that the man I’ve known for years as Dick Paul has crafted a new name and persona for himself. Many readers probably know him as a successful independent optical sales rep, a familiar face at Vision Expo and other industry events.
Lately, Paul has been showing a very different face to the world, that of Desmond Drue. Who is Drue? He’s an accomplished novelist, poet and screenwriter. He writes action-adventure books with titles like “Joe Glass: Unleashed in Miami”
Here’s how Amazon describes the book:
“When God created the ultimate warrior, he created Joe Glass. From the battlefields of Iraq to the streets of Miami, fractured jaws, shattered dreams, empty bank books and broken lives are the remnants of Joe's renegade lifestyle. Regardless of consequence, his life is an attack on all fronts, as he steamrolls over anything and anyone who gets in his way, until the residue of what he left behind eventually catches up to him—in the strongest of ways.”As Drue, Paul has also written and published several other novels, and has adapted some for the screen. He has also written more than a thousand poems, some of which are included in a collection by called, “If I Were a Chiseled Man,” Poems For My Lady, From A Wannabe Imagined Guy,” which is available on Amazon both in paperback and in a Kindle Edition narrated by actor Treg Monty.
That’s not all. Together with Monty he has developed a unique blend of poetry and song they call polyrics, in which Monty recites Drue’s lines accompanied by sound effects and music. Recordings of these performances can be found on their website, The Voice of the Poet.
After winding down his four-decade optical career earlier this year—during which he represented 29 different companies including Marine Optical, Coburn, Gentex, X-Cel Optical, KBco, PSI, Aden Safety, Satisloh and Hoya—Paul is now devoting his energies into developing Desmond Drue’s literary career. Freeing himself from the day to day demands of optical sales has energized Paul, who is experiencing a new burst of creativity, writing more novels, screen plays, poems and polyrics.
How, and when, did Paul morph into Drue? It didn’t happen overnight. It turns out that Paul has been nurturing his literary talents since he was 12 years old.
“One day at school I was sitting in the bleachers, watching a ball game,” he recalled recently. “I was the only one who wasn’t playing. To amuse myself, I started putting together rhymes. That’s how it started.”
Later, as an optical salesperson, Paul looked for ways to occupy his time when he wasn’t calling on customers. “I hit the road selling vision products 43 years ago,” he recalled. “I travelled over two million miles in planes and cars. I stayed in 1,500 hotel rooms.
“It’s just crazy the amount of time you spend alone,” Paul said, reflecting on his life as a road warrior. “You go through music, talk shows… anything to occupy the time. Finally, in about my twentieth year of travelling I said, ‘Enough is enough. I want silence.’ Then, I’d get into a routine where I’d get up in the morning and think of something to write about. I’d challenge myself that by the end of the day, I’d make it into something material. I wrote a poem or lyric, several sometimes, and I did it every single day.”
Paul filled page after page with material he wrote while on the road. He gave little thought to publishing his writings, though and eventually packed them away in boxes stored in his house. Then one day, while renovating his house, he rediscovered his archive and got an idea.
|Dick Paul (l) with Treg Monty.|
“I counted everything, and realized I wrote over 1,000 poems and lyrics. I thought, ‘This is insane. What am I going to do with these? And it dawned on me, why don’t I share them with the world? Put it out there and give everybody a peek. Maybe they’ll reflect on them. Maybe they’ll feel some of the motivation behind it. Maybe they’ll be entertained by it.”
Paul went about learning the process of self-publishing a book online following a tutorial from Kindle Direct Publishing. “It was very frustrating. It was like learning a new language. Then I re-read my books and re-edited them. It took two years. Now I feel very comfortable in writing a novel or screenplay and getting it up there.”
Because he was still working in optical sales, Paul decided he needed to separate his professional and artistic identities, so he created Desmond Drue, a name imbued with meaning. “Drue means warrior in Gaelic,” Paul explained. “And Desmond means place or world. So Desmond Drue means Warrior of the World or Wise Man Warrior.”
After publishing his first novel, Paul had a serendipitous conversation with Treg Monty. A former realtor and musician turned actor, Monty had the right combination of talents to narrate the Drue novels.
“Treg is my wife’s cousin,” said Paul. “We’ve known each other going on 10 years or so, if not longer. He’s involved in all sorts of artistic endeavors, which appealed to me. We're not only friends, we're partners.”
Monty and Paul’s first collaboration was The Mall Walker: Jack’s Krause’s Private War, an audio book version of a Desmond Drue novel about a 70-year-old Vietnam veteran who is described as “a war-torn Vietnam veteran with a dysfunctional family who is suffering from PTSD and courting countless demons.” He walks around the local mall for exercise, accompanied by several friends who are also vets. The narration required Monty to voice multiple characters, including the gravelly-voiced Dirt and another named Ryan who Monty described as “commanding.”
“I had done commercials, but this was my first time narrating a book,” said Monty. “It was a 10-hour book. It was beautiful to narrate because of the quality of the writing and the fast pace of the plot.”
The pair’s most recent project is The Voice of the Poet, a production company and website they created to showcase Drue’s words and Monty’s vocal talents. “This has been an organically grown process that we didn’t anticipate,” said Monty. “Narrating the book taught me how to voice different characters, and differentiating between three to four characters in a scene very quickly. The poems are more like song lyrics. Because I play sax and flute, I understand the timing of what you leave out, the space between the lines. I add royalty-free sound clips and music to enhance certain parts of the poetry in order to give it that extra dramatic effect. The last one we’ve done is called The Starbucks Closed. It’s a very funny, moving poem and there’s a little bit of country-style music placed at certain spots.”
“What makes this really different is it’s not just the written word, it’s a narrative,” Paul noted. “Treg adds so much to it with his voice, it’s just amazing. That’s how we differentiate ourselves from other players out there.”
Paul and Monty are staying busy with various projects. Paul is working on several more Drue novels which Monty will narrate, and the pair are pumping out polyrics at a quick pace.
“Every Tuesday we send out a poem to our subscribers for free,” said Paul. “Then they can backtrack into the website and see all the previous ones that we put out. Now people are waiting for Tuesday morning to find out what’s going to be on our website.”
Click here to listen to The Starbucks Closed.