About Paul Andruss
Details are sparse, but I have gathered what information I can from Sally Cronin’s Smorgasbord, where Paul is Writer in Residence
Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way.
His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining.
Whilst he is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.
Paul Andruss is the author of 2 contrasting fantasy novels
© Sally Cronin
Why have I told you all this?
So I can let you see the article he sent me, as follows:
Ringing in the Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes
Barely February and my new-year optimism is already eclipsed by old concerns, and a new year’s optimism is already eclipsed by old concerns. Surely I am not the only author so inflicted?
I know my work is quality and commercial. But I am plagued by doubt. Like many others, I wonder if I am going anywhere. If I am, when will I get there? Regardless of the route travelled (traditional or self-published) will I ever become main-stream? Another year gone by and I’m still racking my brains trying to figure out how to make it happen.
It was the anniversary of David Bowie’s death a month ago. It does not seem coincidental it happens around the same time as the novelty of New Year begins to pale and the old insecurities are creeping back. When I was young, Bowie’s success seemed inevitable. After all, he was the voice of a generation about to find theirs.
But I don’t believe in fairy stories any more. Tales of publishers leaving the opening chapters of a submission around to be picked up by their youngsters; who love it so much they demanded to read the rest. Now wouldn’t that be wizard!
That said, David Bowie is an icon, so can his success story give us any insight?
Bowie had been trying to make it since he was 16. At 22 he got his first break with the song Space Oddity. It stormed up the charts when the BBC played it during the 1969 Apollo moon-landing. Despite its success, 18 months later David feared he was doomed to remain a one hit wonder.
Copying the Beatles, David’s record company did not include his hit single on his new folk-rock album. As a consequence, sales were poor. That made two ignored albums and numerous flop singles against one hit. The catalogue of failure led to disenchantment with his record company and a split with his gentleman manager in favour of an aggressive wide boy, oozing the confidence Bowie lacked.
His new album The Man Who Sold the World’ aped the heavy sound of popular Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin. With no obvious single David recorded Holy Holy. Although touted as a hit, it confused listeners. Over rock guitar riffs David gave his best Marc Bolan vocal impression: possibly in a fit of desperation or jealousy.
Some months earlier his rival Marc, with a glitter daubed face, had started attracting an audience of pre-pubescent girls. Amid scenes of hysteria reminiscent of the early Beatles, Bolan’s singles Ride a White Swan and Hot Love shot up the charts. Much to the contempt of the serious music fans of Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath.
David’s shameless appeal to all parties was ill judged; especially while wearing a man’s dress on television to promote the single, and again on the album cover. He alienated everyone, except perhaps the nascent gay scene, with whom he had recently been flirting. But these guys didn’t buy heavy rock.
The new album and single flopped. Even the music press, who adored his wit, intelligence and charm, believed there was ‘something about David Bowie that doesn’t run alongside the path of luck’.
Frustrated, his band deserted. His producer defected to Marc Bolan. Even his new manager vanished to America; trying to sign Stevie Wonder. Abandoned, David threw himself into the piano. (Not literally: that would be rash.)
Unlike guitar, piano is a visual instrument. Looking at the keys you instantly see the complex mathematical relationships linking notes, chords, harmonics and key change modulations. Don’t take my word for it. Andre Previn said as much. Composing a piece for guitarist John Williams (of ‘Theme for Star Wars’ fame) he was reduced to checking if his music was playable on a cardboard guitar neck.
Piano was a new language for David. As with any new language after months of slavish practice, he became fluent. Once fluent, the first fruits followed. One morning he woke up to a melody he could not forget.
Moments of pure inspiration are rare, but they do happen. Keith Richards woke with Satisfaction running through his head. Paul McCartney with a tune he sang as ‘scrambled eggs’ for a week before the lyrics came. McCartney’s Yesterday elevated the Beatles into gods: ‘more famous than Jesus’ as John Lennon later quipped; which on reflection was probably not a good idea – tempting fate like that.
Bowie’s song was also destined for chart success. His music publisher played David’s solo demo to Mickie Most. Legend had it; if the famous record producer listened to more than 10 seconds he would record it. Most listened to the whole song.
The ragtime jingle-jangle of Oh! You Pretty Things’ sounded nothing short of a futurist manifesto: an anthem to Homo Superior: the coming race. This new generation, while dismissing their older brothers ‘back at home with the Beatles and the Stones’ was not above plundering the hippy obsession with esoteric books such as Supernature and Morning of the Magicians (a mystical melange of Theosophy and Nazi occultism) or Marvel’s own 1960s teen-rebels, the mutant X-Men.
‘Look at your children
See their faces in golden rays
Don’t kid yourself they belong to you
They’re the start of a coming race
The earth is a bitch
We’ve finished our news
Homo Sapiens have outgrown their use
Oh! You Pretty Things launched the solo career of teen-heartthrob and Hermann’s Hermits’ front man Peter Noone, with the proviso Bowie’s lyrics were made chart friendly by substituting the word ‘bitch’ for ‘beast’. David played piano and later, mercifully, included his own version on the outstanding Hunky Dory.
David’s next stroke of genius was Life on Mars? Along with Changes, Oh! You Pretty Things and 3 more songs destined for Ziggy Stardust, it formed a tantalising package to sell Bowie to RCA.
As David’s new manager pointed out to RCA senior executives, ‘You only have Elvis, and he’s not going to last forever.’ Sorrowfully reminding them: ‘You missed out on the 60s when you failed to sign the Beatles, don’t make the same mistake with the 70s.’
Some years earlier, David wrote English lyrics for a song Comme d’ habitude (As Usual) about a lover crushed by indifference.
Zoot allors! Frenchmen writing about doomed love! As usual!
Bowie was pipped to the post by Paul Anka, who bought the song rights and penned entirely unrelated new lyrics entitled My Way.
Recycling the mood and chords for Life on Mars? David produced an arguably, more gorgeous melody by using an old composers’ trick: a yearning one octave vocal leap on the chorus, guaranteed to wrangle the heart of any listener. It had been used many times before, most famously on the Rainbow song from the Wizard of Oz.
David later recalled how he composed Life on Mars?
‘It came all of a sudden; in a flash. I took a bus to Lewisham to buy shoes and shirts but couldn’t get the riff out of my head. Jumped off two stops into the ride and more or less loped back to the house. Started working it out on the piano and had the whole lyric and melody finished by late afternoon.’
With a new manager, record company, and an enthusiastic music press David thought this would be his big break. He was so confident everything would turn out Hunky Dory; he used it for the album title. Once again bad luck struck. The album and single flopped.
This time David didn’t care, he was already by obsessed something new. Ziggy Stardust captured the zeitgeist of the new age and put his name in the stars. Within months of the Ziggy’s success, all four of David’s previous albums were alongside it in the charts.
As David found out, talent, management, financial backing of a prestigious record company, influential contracts, and the love of the music press wasn’t enough. So what was the secret of his success?
Je ne sais quoi: I do not know.
If I did I would tell you.
All I know is, having honed his craft through persistence and hard work, when lady luck called David was ready to ride that Queen Bitch for all she was worth.
If you want some advice, I would venture: never underestimate inspiration. When it hits… jump off the bus!
But remember, inspiration is 1%, the other 99% is perspiration and dogged determination. Bear that in mind while slogging your guts out; convinced you will never do justice to that great idea of yours. And while do, think on. One day someone might read your work; turn green with envy, and wonder how you write so beautifully.
Finally, when lady luck does arrive, none of your hard work is wasted. David spent half his career recycling his back catalogue.
As author Lynda la Plante tells it, ‘When I sold Widows to Thames Television, TV companies were clamouring for scripts. I went to the suitcase under the bed where I kept all the scripts they’d rejected for years and dug them out. ‘These are marvellous!’ they gushed. ‘Got any more?’
If you want to learn more about David Bowie, click the following links:
(Animation by Paul Andruss using Diamond Dogs LP cover (EMI/Bowie)
& poster by Dutch artist Guy Peeleart (1934-2008);
Bowie with dog photograph by Terry O’Neill – Words: Bowie
Thomas the Rhymer – a magical-realism fantasy for ages 11 to adult. It is the story of 11year old Jack Hughes’ attempts to rescue his brother who was kidnapped by fairies.
As you can see from Jack’s poem, fairies are not what you see in Disney movies.
For a limited period Thomas the Rhymer is
Finn Mac Cool is a post-apocalypse satire based in mythological Ireland. An adventure novel that is in turns rude, crude and funny. Finn Mac Cool is strictly adults only.
For a limited time Finn Mac Cool Pt 1 is available FREE HERE
Connect to Paul Andruss at: