Roman Payne (b. 1977) is a novelist and poet currently living in political exile in Africa, in the kingdom of Morocco. Payne coined the famous word “wanderess” and is the author of five novels including, “The Wanderess”; which, since its publication in 2013, has influenced art and cultures all over the world. In the East, the famous Bollywood designer Masaba Gupta used Payne’s novel as the inspiration for her “Wanderess” collection which opened India’s Fashion Week in 2015. In the West, “The Wanderess” has been the inspiration for everything from art, to European films, to pop music in America. The pop star Halsey, who sold-out Madison Square Garden with songs like “Hurricane”—a song based on a quote from Payne’s novel—credits “The Wanderess” as one of her greatest inspirations while writing “Badlands,” the debut album that launched her to fame. Halsey chose this Roman Payne quote for her song:
And the following quote by Roman Payne became one of the mantras of billionaire Richard Branson, who named it one of his “top ten favorite quotes about finding happiness”:
Although Payne’s greatest artistic achievements are his novels, he is better known to the world as a poet. Countless works of art have been based on his poems and quotes. The author said that one of the things he loves most about being a novelist/poet is the numerous photos sent to him from people around the world who have tattooed his poetry on their bodies.
Payne is a controversial figure in that he is currently exiled in Muslim Morocco where he is forbidden to leave kingdom until he is tried for treason by the king (Mohammed VI). Both the US Congress and State Department have failed so far in obtaining the novelist’s release from Morocco. Payne is spending his days of exile in the souks of the ancient Medina of Marrakech,.
Roman Payne is known as an adventurer, and the foremost “novelist on wandering.” His novels and poems are the favorites of other wanderers and world travelers.
The forty year-old author spent the first half of his life in America (mostly in Seattle where he was born and raised), while he spent his second 20 years wandering Europe and Africa. He first expatriated to Paris where he lived for fifteen years in the neighborhood of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. The next three years were spent in Athens, Greece; mainland Spain and the Canary Islands. Payne moved to Marrakech in February of 2016 and is currently finishing his sixth novel based on his life there.
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. The themes of his quotes and prose explore love and sexuality, travel and the life of a wanderer (or wanderess), and the struggle to live, what he calls, “the poetic life.” He is heavily influenced by Homeric Epic, as well as 18th and 19th Century French and European literature.
Payne is a beloved writer by feminists and women in general because his inspirational words to women remind them that they too, like men, only have one life to live as far as we know, thus they too deserve to experience every single adventure that life can offer them. He receives a lot of letters from women who write that they found the courage to wander to remote countries after reading quores from him like this one: “Never did the world make a queen of a girl who hides in houses and dreams without travelling” (“Love of Europa”).
This is what Halsey wrote about Payne:
“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, March 2016