Roman Payne (b. 1977) coined the famous word “wanderess” and is the author of the world-renowned novel, “The Wanderess.” He is best known for his poetry, although critics consider his five novels his greatest achievement. Payne is a controversial novelist in that he is currently living in exile in Africa, in Muslim Morocco, where the government has seized his passports and forbids him to leave the country.
Roman Payne’s novels and poems are the favorites of wanderers and vagabonds. He himself wandered the world for half of his life (the forty year-old Payne spent his first twenty years in America [mostly in Seattle where he was born and raised], and the second twenty years of his life wandering in Europe). He lived in Paris for fifteen years in the neighborhood of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. He also lived in Greece, Spain, Turkey, and travelled through all of Western, Central, and Eastern Europe. He moved to Marrakech, Morocco in February of 2016 and is not yet permitted to leave. The US State Department is currently fighting with the Moroccan government for his release.
Although Payne writes in English, his 15 years living in Paris where he spoke entirely in French, has greatly influenced his work, giving it a unique Latinate quality and inimitable voice. Payne’s literary quotes have inspired the lives and works of many artists and famous people, from pop-singers to world leaders. The themes of his quotes and prose explore travel, devoting one’s life to wandering, love and sexuality, femininity and self-empowerment for both women and men (the rise of the individual to live the “heroic life”). He is heavily influenced by Homeric Epic, as well as 18th and 19th Century French and European literature.
Payne achieved literary success in 2013 with the publication of his famous novel, “The Wanderess.” In 2015, “The Wanderess” served as the inspiration for India’s Fashion Week when Payne’s fan, the Bollywood designer, Masaba Gupta, was inspired by the book to create her collection which opened Fashion Week. One year later, the pop star, Halsey (who was still an unknown artist at that point) used poetry from “The Wanderess” to compose her song, “Hurricane” (a song that helped propel her to overnight fame). Halsey wrote this to her fans:
“I stumbled upon this book when I was a teenager and its words helped to shape my will to be unapologetic, to be unbound by the perimeters of a single place. To write a song like Hurricane. To be like, ‘The Wanderess’” – Halsey (Feb, 2016)