On the Pleasures of Life


You must give everything to make your life as beautiful as the dreams that dance in your imagination, giving your hearts and your bodies to all that your hearts and bodies desire.  Live in your imagination.  Live the life that only a god could dare to live, for you are a god or a goddess. You are immortal in that you are conscious at this moment while this moment stretches on for all of eternity.  The gods of Greece were silly in their playfulness, they were always cheerful and happy—simply for the fact that they knew that they were deathless.  So, you too are deathless.  So mock life with an air of superiority; and be cheerful and joyous as you wander in the wilderness.

And wander far, my friend!  Ô wander far!  Wander through cities and countries wide, knowing that everywhere you go, the world is on your side.  Be at peace with all things and keep your eyes bright with wonder.  Smile with sensuality at those of the sex you hold beloved, for it costs you nothing to give them romantic dreams.  Each encounter you have with  your beloved sex contains elements of the exotic, the erotic.  The glances with the stranger on the street or subway car are glances of wonder, want, and desire—a fire between the legs.

And when you next make love to a woman or a man, treat your lover as though she or he is a goddess or a god.  Adore every part of your lover’s body.  Worship them.  Inhale their odor with passion while you imagine the zebras on the beaches of Africa and the flowers in the jungles of Brazil.

Worship your lover’s sex.  Kiss it as though it were the flesh you need to devour.  Lap its moisture like the man laps at the fresh, cool water of the oasis he finds after crawling on his hands and knees through the desert for seven days, parched and panting.  Admire your lover’s body, for it is perfect, as is your body.  Kiss your lover’s body with gratitude, adore it with gratitude, for this person is giving you the gift of opening his or her nakedness to you, exposing to you their vulnerable innocence.  They can be hurt by you, but they trust you, be kind.

For we are all children on this exotic Earth and none of us know what we are here for or why.  Thus, in joy walk along; take part in dance, and sing your song.  Yet, never try to bind an hour, to your borrowed garden bower; nor shall you once entreat, a day to slumber at your feet.  For days aren’t lulled by lyric song, like morning birds they pass along, o’er crests of trees, to none belong.

Get drunk, feel free, get high, while the hours of life before you fly.  Don’t worry to ask yourself why you do the thing you do.  For you are a masterpiece of nature and life—your mother’s sacrifice.  And your dreams will become your life, and they will be bountiful, once you know that you are beautiful.  So, how shall beauty you achieve?  Simply laugh, and smile, and simply breathe.


The Birth of a Quote: “She was free in her wildness…”

“She was free in her wildness. She was a wanderess, a drop of free water. She belonged to no man and to no city.”

  • Roman Payne (“The Wanderess”)


How this quote became so popular, I have no idea.  I wrote it about one woman:  The heroine of “The Wanderess,” Saskia; yet I wrote these lines to describe Saskia at her best—praising the qualities of a heroine that all women should strive to have, or keep if they have them.  I wrote these lines to make Saskia be like a statue of Psyche or Demeter.  The masculine sculptor doesn’t see rock when he carves Aphrodite.  He sees before him the carving of the perfect feminine creature.


I was creating my ‘perfect feminine creature’ when I wrote about Saskia.  She is completely wild and fearless in her dramatic performance of life.  She knows that she may only have one life to live and that most people in her society wish to see her fail in her dream of living a fulfilled life.  For if a woman acts and lives exactly as society wants her to live, she will never be truly happy, never fulfilled.  For societies do not want girls and women to wander.


I am surprised that this quote became so famous, since I didn’t spend more than a few seconds writing it.  It was written merely as three sentences in a novel.  I didn’t write it to be a solitary poem.  This quote that touches so many people is no more than an arrangement of twenty-four words in a book of three-hundred pages.

What touches me the most is when fans send me photos of tattoos they’ve had done of this quote—either a few words from it or the whole quote. The fact that these wonderful souls are willing to guard words that I’ve written on their precious skin for the rest of their lives makes me feel that what I am writing is worth something and not nothing.  When I get depressed and feel the despair that haunts me from time to time, and cripples me, I look at these photos of these tattoos, and it helps me to think that what I am doing is important to some people, and it helps me to start writing again.

Am I a masculine version of the wanderess in this quote?  Of course I am!  I am wild and fearless, I am a wanderer who belongs to no city and to nobody; I am a drop of free water.  I am—to cite one of my other quotes—“free as a bird.  King of the world and laughing!”

(-Roman Payne, January 1, 2018, Marrakech, Morocco)


* * *  Ask the novelist and poet who wrote this famous quote a question.  Ask him anything at:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/359352.Roman_Payne/questions




Who is Roman Payne?

roman-payne_007_sepia_websiRoman 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:



“She was free in her wildness. She was a wanderess, a drop of free water. She belonged to no man and to no city.”



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”:



“You must give everything to make your life as beautiful as the dreams that dance in your imagination.”



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


THE WINE OF A WOMAN (by Roman Payne)


Ô, she came to my bed
and begged me with sighs
not to tempt her towards passion
nor actions unwise.


I told her I’d spare her
and kissed her closed eyes,
then unbraided her body
of its clothing disguise


While our bodies were nude
bathed in candlelight fine
I devoured her mouth,
tender lips divine;
and I drank through her thighs
her feminine wine.


Ô, the wine of a woman
from heaven is sent,
more perfect than all
that a man can invent.


– Roman Payne (October, 2016, Marrakech)

About Roman Payne

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)

“Poem to Soukaïna”

“Poem to Soukaïna”

To tell of my new Moroccan Love,

Ô, I court her everyday.

But just as a pearl in the mud is a pearl,

So is my Love just an Arab girl…

in that I offer her constant, loving woos,

but she’ll ask me in return that I give her flooze*.

That’s when I kiss her and shrug, and I say, “Someday.”

And she gives me her love free anyway.


Ô, my Love is a child of the souks.

In Casablanca born.

A gypsy thief, “Soukaïna” named.

We met in the souks of Marrakech,

It was here my heart she tamed.

Ô, she came at nineteen to Marrakech,

In search of wild fun.

And she lived in Marrakech seven years,

Before my heart she won.


*Flooze: (Arabic slang word for “money.”)


Not to waste the spring… (a poem)

Roman Payne Quote Image Ode to Spring
Not to waste the spring
I threw down everything,
And ran into the open world
To sing what I could sing…
To dance what I could dance!
And join with everyone!
I wandered with a reckless heart
beneath the newborn sun.
First stepping through the blushing dawn,
I crossed beneath a garden bower,
counting every hermit thrush,
counting every hour.
When morning’s light was ripe at last,
I stumbled on with reckless feet;
and found two nymphs engaged in play,
approaching them stirred no retreat.
With naked skin, their weaving hands,
in form akin to Calliope’s maids,
shook winter currents from their hair
to weave within them vernal braids.
I grabbed the first, who seemed the stronger
by her soft and dewy leg,
and swore blind eyes,
Lest I find I,
before Diana, a hunted stag.
But the nymphs they laughed,
and shook their heads.
and begged I drop beseeching hands.
For one was no goddess, the other no huntress,
merely two girls at play in the early day.
“Please come to us, with unblinded eyes,
and raise your ready lips.
We will wash your mouth with watery sighs,
weave you springtime with our fingertips.”
So the nymphs they spoke,
we kissed and laid,
by noontime’s hour,
our love was made,
Like braided chains of crocus stems,
We lay entwined, I laid with them,
Our breath, one glassy, tideless sea,
Our bodies draping wearily.
We slept, I slept so lucidly,
with hopes to stay this memory.
I woke in dusty afternoon,
Alone, the nymphs had left too soon,
I searched where perched upon my knees
Heard only larks’ songs in the trees.
“Be you, the larks, my far-flung maids?
With lilac feet and branchlike braids…
Who sing sweet odes to my elation,
in your larking exaltation!”
With these, my clumsy, carefree words,
The birds they stirred and flew away,
“Be I, poor Actaeon,” I cried, “Be dead…
Before they, like Hippodamia, be gone astray!”
Yet these words, too late, remained unheard,
By lark, that parting, morning bird.
I looked upon its parting flight,
and smelled the coming of the night;
desirous, I gazed upon its jaunt,
as Leander gazes Hellespont.
Now the hour was ripe and dark,
sensuous memories of sunlight past,
I stood alone in garden bowers
and asked the value of my hours.
Time was spent or time was tossed,
Life was loved and life was lost.
I kissed the flesh of tender girls,
I heard the songs of vernal birds.
I gazed upon the blushing light,
aware of day before the night.
So let me ask and hear a thought:
Did I live the spring I’d sought?
It’s true in joy, I walked along,
took part in dance,
and sang the song.
and never tried to bind an hour
to my borrowed garden bower;
nor did I once entreat
a day to slumber at my feet.
Yet days aren’t lulled by lyric song,
like morning birds they pass along,
o’er crests of trees, to none belong;
o’er crests of trees of drying dew,
their larking flight, my hands, eschew
Thus I’ll say it once and true…
From all that I saw,
and everywhere I wandered,
I learned that time cannot be spent,
It only can be squandered.”
Roman Payne, Rooftop Soliloquy


The US Consulate has put the burden of helping American novelist captive in Muslim, Morocco on the Catholic Church


A perfect example of how “life imitates art”:  The writer Roman Payne first became known internationally with the publication of “The Wanderess” in 2013.  The hero of the book, a traveler and adventurer named Saul, has a price on his head in Libya.  Incidentally, the author of “The Wanderess” has also just become a “wanted man” in North Africa.

Roman Payne—an American by birth—is being detained indefinitely by the government in Morocco where his US passport has been confiscated by their authorities.

The event happened after a civil dispute in court that was dismissed. Following the dispute, Payne was invited (convoqué) to visit the Préfacture of Police of Marrakech for three different interviews where the police inquired, during the first two, about his activities in the country.  The reason for the third interview was unclear to Payne. Some words in Arabic were exchanged between the police and then Payne was escorted on the back of a motorbike by one of the officers to the “Cour d’Appel” (appellate court). There, he was interrogated for 15 minutes in a small room by two men in business attire. Payne did not learn the roles of these officials since he reported having not understood half of what was said in the room (Payne is fluent in French but does not speak Arabic and the conversations in the room were reportedly half in Arabic).  Following the interrogation, one of the officials said that Payne’s passport was to be taken so that he could not leave the kingdom; and that “his case would be reviewed” in the coming months. They did not encourage him to seek an attorney.

One would expect the US to immediately intervene on behalf of their citizen held captive abroad, but instead, the US Consulate is refusing support, stating that such intervention should be handled by the Catholic Church.

The Catholic Church responded to this insistence with outrage and denied any responsibility whatsoever with helping Payne with his political situation in North Africa.  The Colombian-born official of the Catholic Church stationed in Morocco told Payne that “Affairs regarding American-citizens held captive in Muslim countries are politics that concern the American government only, and not the Catholic Church.”

The US did not respond to this statement but proposed that the Moroccan government and Payne should work together to resolve his forced-exile in their country.  The single gesture they made to help Payne was to supply him with a list of “Suggested Attorneys in Morocco to assist Americans with foreign affairs.”  Payne interviewed all of the Marrakech-based attorneys recommended to him by his consulate and was disappointed by the United States’ apparently haphazard methods of selecting council for Americans abroad, especially in Muslim countries where international relations with the US range from tedious to utterly chaotic.  “These lawyers were inept and confused,” he said.  One attorney did not even know why he was on their list.  “They put me on that list a long time ago.  I am not sure why,” he told Payne.

While the US government had washed their hands of the affair, the writer continued his struggle with the Moroccan government.  This week he met with Samir Merzouki, a Moroccan official working in foreign relations, who received him cordially and was sympathetic to his situation.  Merzouki invited the writer to discuss the matter personally over coffee.  He was shocked by the United States’ lack of involvement in a matter such as this. He said that he had great respect for America and was impressed by their tremendous global power, wealth, and influence.  “Why they do not use their influence to help their citizens in peril abroad is dumbfounding,” he said.


As the matter stands today, Payne is still without representation or council, and his government is making no further attempts to remedy this.  His passport is still in the possession of the Moroccan authorities and he is forbidden to leave the kingdom.  He is now living in asylum on the outskirts of Marrakech.


For all press inquiries, please email:  contact@wanderess.com or call:  (212)





Wanderess Tour: Only Four Places Left to Sail the Adriatic Sea and Learn to Write with Roman Payne

A message to all Wanderers and Wanderesses from Roman Payne:

I am very excited to say the this summer’s Wanderess Tour is on!  Our luxury sailboat will be leaving from the city of Split, Croatia, at the end of August; and we will  be at sea for seven days.

This will be an intimate tour limited to six participants only!  (In addition to the six participants, there will be myself, as well as a skipper aboard.)

The Wanderess Tour will be a great adventure.  It includes daily intensive writing workshops where I will help you start a new novel or finish the one you are working on.  We will see some wonderful places that figure in my novel, The Wanderess, (such as Malta and Italy).

On of our participants will be celebrating her birthday during the tour, so we will through a great party for her.

The cuisine will be of the highest quality at the lowest possible price.  Each day we will dock in the harbor of a different city or village where we can buy the freshest local ingredients: fish, vegetables, spices like saffron, truffles, and all kinds of delicious wines, red, rosé, white and sparkling.  As you know, these farmers’ markets are very inexpensive and the food sold is as authentic to the locale and as fresh as can be.  After shopping, our group will set sail again and all participants will be invited to cook their purchases to their hearts’ delight in the boats gourmet kitchen.

My goal with this tour is four-fold:

  1. Share with you the world of The Wanderess and the secrets of how and why I wrote the book.
  2. Give you an amazing Mediterranean sailing experience (including kite surfing and swimming), a vacation you will never forget.
  3. Introduce you to new cultures as we explore the port cities of different countries.
  4. MOST IMPORTANTLY:  I vow in these seven days to make you a better writer.  Not just a better writer, but an accomplished writer, with goals to work towards and the courage, discipline, and skill to do it.

Total cost for the tour is between 1,000 and 1,300 euros for seven nights, seven days.

The Origins of Payne’s Most Famous Wanderess Quote

My most famous quote talks about a woman who is a “Wanderess” :

She is free in her wildness

“She was free in her wildness. She was a wanderess, a drop of free water. She belonged to no man and to no city.

The composition of the quote was simple.  I’d decided to write a book about a young woman whom I called the “wanderess.”  I named her “Saskia” and imagined her life and her position in life and the kind of character and personality that her unique position would give her.  She is a European who grew up in various countries, being transplanted by circumstances—so travel comes naturally to her. She has no more family left, despite the fact that she is very young; and she has no real friends, so there is no reason for her to settle in one city or country rather than any another.  She earns a kind of pension, which—although she is not rich by any means—allows her to eat and live without being rooted to one spot, to one geographical location, where she would have to work a regular job.

I tried to imagine the life of such a person—which was easy, since in my line of work, I also am not dependent on one geographical location.  I tried to imagine someone with, quote, “no reason to be anywhere.”  …No family to keep her in one country, no friends to keep her in another; she has no real entrepreneurial ambitions so she has no reason to choose a destination based on a particular university she wishes to attend or a field of expertise that a city offers.  Thus, she is free (or condemned) to drift and drift, while searching for reason.  What separates her from members of the idle rich class who have no reason to remain fixed in any one spot is that, as mentioned, she has no business interests tied into any location; and she doesn’t have idle companions that the rich so often do, whose caprices guide their friends to follow them from city to city, from festival to casino to tournament.  Saskia is, as I write elsewhere in the book, “not an adventuress, but a wanderess.”  It is in that phrase that we understand why she “has no reason to be anywhere.”

And so, while writing a 334-page book about her, I had many opportunities to describe her character.  Many of my descriptions didn’t particularly stand-out for any reason.  Yet for some reason, these 24 words I wrote about her (in the quote above) profoundly resonated with people around the world and became a part of popular culture when everyone from pop musicians to clothing and product designers adopted the words to make the message their own.

— Roman Payne, May 2017 (on writing The Wanderess)


New Wanderess Literary Tour & Writers’ Workshop Launches in the Mediterranean

Head to Croatia this summer to live the life of a wanderer or wanderess and create your own story in the process.  For a few select weeks this summer, a maximum of six passengers (per week) are invited to spend seven days with Roman Payne, the author of “The Wanderess,” exploring the Adriatic Sea aboard the luxury sailing yacht, “Gold One.”

Fans of “The Wanderess” will enjoy literary discussions with its author, while writers of all levels will receive expert guidance to help them advance on their own manuscripts.  “It is a sailing adventure meant to inspire and set your creativity free,” says Payne, “and by the end of the week, I will make sure you are on your way towards finishing your novel!”

His novel, “The Wanderess,” is highly-praised for its exceptional literary quality.  It has influenced everything from pop music in America, to film in England, to Bollywood and Fashion Week in India.  Payne’s poetry is considered first-class and has inspired thousands (people around the world even tattoo his words on their bodies!)

The Roman Payne literary cruise dispatches from the Croatian city of Split, and offers some of the best sailing in the world (Croatia is home to over 1,000 islands!).  Passengers also visit Italy on the tour.

For those who love wining and dining in addition to literature, Wanderess Tours offer something doubly-delightful: the best quality natural foods and exotic delicacies (truffles, saffron, gourmet cheeses), together with the inexpensive cost of buying direct from the farmer at the village market.  Each port city that you stop at, the Gold One drops anchor and you’ll have the pleasure of exploring city sights, shopping, and buying the freshest ingredients for your daily meals which you may prepare yourself on board in the yacht’s gourmet kitchen.  If spectacular wines help your creativity and inspiration, you are in luck: Croatia, the birthplace of Zinfandel, has some of the best wines on earth.  Sample some aboard to add festivity to your literary adventure.

Other activities besides the literary discussions and writers’ workshops include sunbathing, swimming, and kite surfing.  There are double cabins available.  The cost is 1,300€ per person. To book a week’s Wanderess Tour, please send an email to contact@wanderess.com.


Tours are organized in part by Travel Writers’ Network.


Story by Roman Payne: “Le Papillon de Vingt-Quatre Heures”

Le Papillon de Vingt-Quatre Heures


By Roman Payne




Ô, Muse of the Heart’s Passion,

let me relive my Love’s memory,

to remember her body, so brave and so free.

and the sound of my Wanderess singing to me,

and the scent of my Wanderess sleeping by me,

Ô, sing, sweet Muse, my soliloquy![1]


WHEN I TOUCHED HER BODY, I believed she was God.  In the curves of her form I found the birth of Man, the creation of the world, and the origin of all life.

She was Woman and I was Man; and our bodies lay naked on the bed, panting like two beaten and worn animals after a battle.  Our passionate combat had lasted for two beautiful days and nights in that wasted bedroom of hers on the rue de Turbigo in Paris.  During forty hours we made love, ceasing only momentarily to drink the necessary water and eat when our bodies required it; as our sexual battle exhausted our fuel supplies and our organs needed to be replenished to continue their feast.

It was still dark when we finished.  Four o’clock at the end of a night in spring, and Mademoiselle d’Odessa and I finally surrendered to the fatigue of our flesh; and feeling comfort in our nourished sexual appetites, we lay entwined to let sweet  sleep overtake us.  As we lay, we caressed each other languidly on the bed: thighs and limbs, taught abdomens, my hard chest, her soft breasts.  She said, “Look…” and pointed from her petite “lit de jeune fille,[2] across her bedroom to where a moth was flying upwards and bouncing off the yellow plaster.

Un papillon de vingt-quatre heures[3],” she told me.

I had never heard of a twenty-four-hour moth before and I asked her about it.  She said she once read a curious book about moths and butterflies and explained to me with great certainty that the species of moth on her wall had a lifespan of exactly twenty-four hours—that it had been born to her house for only one day and one night, so as to fly and to reproduce before dying.  She went on to talk of this moth and I was thoroughly enchanted.  I stroked her wonderful tummy as I watched that curious twenty-four hour moth; and what I did above all was to admire the luck of that creature.

“Why is it lucky?!” she asked, pounding me on the chest.

“Because,” I told her, “billions of its kind are born every season to live out their short lives in an empty basement or attic somewhere, down in the métro, or in a bank, or a ceramic factory or in a preschool.  But this lucky devil has lived every moment of its life in the aura of our naked bodies… two passionate human beings making love.”

She kissed me.  “I adore you.”

“I mean, can you imagine a creature who spends his entire life watching pornography?!”

I laughed through my nose at what I’d just said, but she just frowned and slapped my cheek.  She then rolled over and went to sleep, the funny girl.  I was so enlivened and inspired by our two days of lovemaking, however, that I thought of sleep as a great waste of time at that moment.  I had to write!  For writing is the only way to come down euphorically from love-making of such splendour and grandeur.

(If you want to read more, write to the author by clicking here)



[1] Ô, MUSE […] MY SOLILOQUY:  As Payne is so greatly inspired by Homer, he begins this book, like some of his other books and stories, with a “Proem.”  A proem contains the introductory lines of a Homeric epic where the writer invokes the Muse to ask for the inspiration to write the epic. The mortal writer then reciprocates payment to the Muse in return for this inspiration by giving all credit to the Muse for having (literally) written the book for him or her. In the Iliad, the first line reads: ‘Rage—Goddess, sing the rage of Peleus’ son Achilles.’ In the Odyssey, Homer writes: ‘Sing in me, Muse, and through me tell the story of the man.’ Likewise, Payne’s first line, ‘Ô, sing me, sweet Muse, my soliloquy’ implies that his soliloquy [this novel] was conceived not by him, but by his Muse. [Editor]

[2] LIT DE JEUNE FILLE: (fr) ‘Young girl’s bed.’ The childhood bed of a women that is often preserved in its juvenile form in her parent’s house after she is grown.

[3] UN PAPILLON DE VINGT-QUATRES HEURES: (fr) ‘A 24-hour butterfly’ is the literal translation. This is a play on the term ‘papillon de nuit’ (‘butterfly of the night,’ which is a moth. It is interesting (and disturbing) how living things are degraded when we add the suffix ‘of the night.’  A butterfly becomes a moth. And while a ‘girl’ is valuable. A ‘girl of the night’ is shameful. Why is it so dishonorable to be nocturnal? Cannot some prefer the moon to the sun? [Payne]

“The Love of Europa” (Novel) Prologue


WHEN I TOUCHED HER BODY, I believed she was God.  In the curves of her form I found the birth of Man, the creation of the world, and the origin of all life.

She was Woman and I was Man.  Our bodies lay naked on the bed, panting like two beaten and worn animals.  Our bedroom resembled a battlefield.  Our passionate combat had lasted two days: forty-hours of straight love-making where we ceased only momentarily every so often to drink the necessary water and to eat, for our sexual exercise exhausted our fuel supplies.

Now, when the sunlight of another morning flooded the room to bake our bodies that were blown, expired and intertwined on the sheets, I thought to leave her to sleep so that I could begin again my work, which I had put off since she and I reunited.  Ah, happy I was to be at my desk this day!, for beautiful writing comes easily following a love-night with one’s Muse; and writing is the only way I have found to joyfully come down from sexual euphoria.

I kissed her earlobe and tasted the salt left over from our passion; and enjoying the taste infinitely, I kissed it once again, and then one time again; but this renewed affection of mine stirred the tired girl who began to purr with enjoyment, but she needed her sleep.  And so, I dragged myself from this most perfect of beings on this holiest of mornings and went to my desk at the windows overlooking the smoky souks and bazaars of Marrakech and set ink to paper.

What to write?  Our sensual battle had been so intense—so musical—that this morning commanded poetry instead of prose: verses to honor the divine female sleeping near me.  Thus, I drafted out the following lines…


The Wine of a Woman

Ô, the wine of a woman

from heaven is sent,

more perfect than all

that a man can invent.

Well, she came to my bed

and she begged me with sighs

not to tempt her towards passion

nor actions unwise.

I told her I’d spare her

and kissed her closed eyes,

then unbraided her body

of its clothing disguise

While our bodies were nude

bathed in candlelight fine

I devoured her mouth,

tender lips divine;

and I drank through her thighs

her feminine wine.


Ô, the wine of a woman

from heaven is sent,

more perfect than all

that a man can invent.


…And being very satisfied with what I had written, I decided I was ready now to move on to “heroic prose,” which is what I give you now in the following novel.  I hesitate on the title.  For now, I will call it The Love of Europa: The Story of a Wanderer and Wanderess.

Nocturne N°2 (Introduction)

I wrote Nocturne N°3 during one night that lasted seventeen hours—one of those long nights in winter when the sun barely rises in the day.  It is a nocturnal ode to my Muse who slept through all seventeen hours of the night, during which time I wrote franticly, passionately; for even the memory of cradling her in my arms is pure euphoria.  And all that I ask out of life is that it be constant and unending euphoria.  And so I write.  Now if you love this book unconditionally, then I will love you unconditionally.  If, however, you think this book needs a proper edit to be good, remember that I wrote it in a spree—one nocturnal, hypomanic spree—and stopped the moment my Muse woke up.  For loving her is another type of poetry.


     (Nocturne N°2 Coming soon)







Ô, Muse of Morocco, sing me your soliloquy, so that I may tell a tale of your land.  For ne’er a story so hallucinatory did I know before I stepped upon your sand.

I had wandered the earth for the latter half of my life[1].  Sometimes I lived like a king, money and pleasure in abundance; other times, I was without coin or bread: a pauper and poet living in a garret, although I was always inspired.  There were nights when I held a sweet woman in my arms, limbs woven together like two ancient trees entwined for centuries; other nights, I slept alone—perhaps on a bed, maybe on a floor.  I had bad dreams often: another wanderer on his path to nowhere.  But whenever I became discouraged, I would tell myself that I am living for literature, and there is nothing in this life holier.

The Fates decided I would be an adventurer in this life: a wanderer.  Not a traveler but a wanderer. “The word “travel” comes from the Old French word “travail” (or “travailler“), which means “to work, to labor; a suffering or painful effort, an arduous journey, a tormenting experience.” (“Travel,” thus, is “a painful and laborious journey”). Whereas “to wander” comes from the West Germanic word “wandran,” which simply means “to roam about.” There is no labor or torment in “wandering.” There is only “roaming.” Wandering is the activity of the child, the passion of the genius; it is the discovery of the self, the discovery of the outside world, and the learning of how the self is both “at one with” and “separate from” the outside world. These discoveries are as fundamental to the soul as “learning to survive” is fundamental to the body. These discoveries are essential to realizing what it means to be human. To wander is to be alive.


And so this the story of how, after leaving wandered everywhere, through the West, the Orient, and the islands in the deep Pacific; and after leaving Paris—my belovèd home that raised me from a child of 21 to a man of 36; and then how after living some years in Greece, Spain and and the Canary Islands, I came, at the handsome age of 39, to quit my life in Christendom and settle in the Muslim city of Marrakech in the North African country of Morocco—that exotic land where no human being can bide time without being forever marked by the experience.

Morocco is a “polytropolous” country, (meaning, it is a country where water falls towards the sky and reality is flipped on its head).  All of what one knows of life, growing up and reaching maturity in the Occident—in Europe or America—is meaningless in this hot, sandy black hole of space and time.  One feels here living in the 45th dimension.




[1] FORTY YEARS:  Payne began this book at age thirty-nine, in December, one month shy of his 40th birthday.  He began travelling at age 19.

“Travel” vs. “Wandering”

“The word “travel” comes from the Old French word “travail” (or “travailler”), which means “to work, to labor; a suffering or painful effort, an arduous journey, a tormenting experience.” (“Travel,” thus, is “a painful and laborious journey”). Whereas “to wander” comes from the West Germanic word “wandran,” which simply means “to roam about.” There is no labor or torment in “wandering.” There is only “roaming.” Wandering is the activity of the child, the passion of the genius; it is the discovery of the self, the discovery of the outside world, and the learning of how the self is both “at one with” and “separate from” the outside world. These discoveries are as fundamental to the soul as “learning to survive” is fundamental to the body. These discoveries are essential to realizing what it means to be human. To wander is to be alive.”   – Roman Payne, The Love of Europa







From the sands of the Sahara, I, your dear friend, Roman Payne, send you this announcement: “You are” or “are going to be” one of the seven Muses for my novel in progress: The Saharan Soliloquy.  (I shall refer to you collectively from time to time as, “The Seven Charites” for those of you familiar with “The Three Charites” (or “Graces” of Greek mythology).

Four of you seven belong to the fair sex, and three to the… sex that is… unfair?—so be it!  The first Muse of the unfair people is the fairest man I know (both in giving and generosity, and in stately appearance [as he is a descendant of the poetess Sappho, and there is much evidence that states that he is the reincarnation of Achilles who helped sack the ancient citadel of Troy]).  His name is Pietros Maneos.  He is a distinguished poet and his kleos already reaches to Heaven.

The second of the less than fair sex is my best friend in the world—has been for the last 18 years.  (Let me see, I am 39, about to turn 40, and he and met when I was 21, on Belmont Street in Seattle.  I was in transit, having just spent a while living in New Orleans, at Bourbon Street and Ursulines, where I’d travelled with my twelve-string and the ambition to become the next Leonard Cohen, my hero; a man who happened to die just one week ago (that is, a week before I write this)—although, since he lived to be 82, the tears in my eyes right now are of joy and nostalgia; they are for my Seven Muses.

Mich Poe and I met on Belmont Street where he spent his hours in a depressive state, popping Zoloft and playing Mozart on his upright piano.  I had the good fortune to share a wall with his piano, and he and I got to talking; and we agreed to go down to Pike’s Place Market to each drink “one dry Martini.”

Three days later, we finished our respective five-gallon martinis, in a bar whose bathroom we used to insufflate all the Latin American amphetamines that I’d smuggled back with me across the Mexican border; the pills bulging through a hacky-sack that I had nested in my crotch as a third testicle.

Mich Poe and I were forever friends after those three days, which also cured him for a long time of his depression.  I didn’t know then that in less than one year, the ‘Black Beast’ of depression, would come to sit on the edge of my bed and haunt me there for many years to come;  Mich and I being newly inseparable, I flew out to New York, and he followed behind on an Amtrak train; and while I was living the bourgeois Manhattan-delivery-life, he was screwing two French sisters who visited him at his makeshift home on the rooftop of my apartment house at 284 Mott Street, in SoHo, due north of Chinatown.  Mich would come down to visit me from time to time, smoke his weed, and try to convince me that the short stories I was writing were better than my song compositions.  Mich Poe first planted the idea of me being a novelist, and then my fate was sealed as a novelist when the tip of my picking hand was torn off in the cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris two years later.  It is almost exclusively to Mich Poe alone that I speak my “soliloquies,” my chapters, my “Arabesques”; because he is the one person on earth I feel free to say absolutely anything to… no matter which language I speak in, and no matter if my admission reveals une faiblesse[1] of my character—for both he and I revel in sharing defects of our characters, and miswirings and misfirings on our brain organs and other tchotchkes.

Now for the last muse of mine who carries more body-hair and testosterone than pleases my eye, is my best friend east of America; he lives in my city: Marrakech.  He lives in my Riad He is, like me, an artistocrat in Morocco, for his blood is Egyptian and his extebded family commissioned the Pyramids.  This brother of mine, whom I call “Sandman” (for the reason that he is an artist in the medium of colored sand; and also because, like a proper Sandman, whenever he comes to my home, he “brings me a dream.”  I will not dwell too much on Sandman’s virtues, because he plays an important role in the novel that follows and you shall learn plenty of his personality.

I am relieved to begin talking of the beautiful sex:  creatures whose soft arms contain just a dew of newborn hairs, soft as silk; and who resist testosterone injections, as they are already high on Estrogen—a drug that infuses them with poetic madness, dramatic insanity, and the sexiest form of mind-manipulation found among sentient beings.

The first beautiful Muse is she I have known the longest: louis Lunderburg of Sweden, who I first saw by peering at her from between my legs.  Sounds odd? …You see, it was a yoga class and the pose: “chien la tête en bas” I found is an excellent way to find new students. I saw her wonderfully tall body, and her emaciated limbs which were very attractive because they made me curious.

In short, I went to speak with her, yet given the circumstances of our meeting, I disobeyed all of my masculine urges and rules for advancement, and behaved during each of our rendezvous like a perfect gentleman.  And Louise was the perfect lady: sophisticated, cultured, and extremely intelligent.  She eventually moved back to Sweden and I too had left Paris after 15 years living there; but Louise and I remained in contact, and she wrote to me recently, “Now that you the lord of Marrakech, Roman, please message me all about your life there.”

“My dear!” I responded, “I would have to write a whole novel to do my experiences justice.”  Thus the idea for The Saharan Soliloquy was born, thanks                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      to Louise of Sweden.

Actually, of my four feminine muses, only one is not Swedish.  The three others:  Olivia, Charlotte, and Louis, are from the country of Ingmar Bergman—I don’t know if is coincidence or if they put something in the water supply to make young girls grow up to become literary Muses…?

I would especially love it if the UK-based artists Tara Lee, Taralee.music@gmail.com, and Charlotte Eriksson, theglasschildmusic@gmail.com would attempt some correspondence.  Dear Charlotte: Tara Lee (SoundCloud Profile) is a musician like you are, and like I was (except she has a sexier voice than I do).  She is also a renown actress, she’s been in movies, on the television, she is very accomplished.  Dear Tara: Charlotte Eriksson is musician, singer, and performer like you.  She is also a poet and novelist like me, and novelist, and it was her novel: Empty Roads & Broken Bottles that introduced me to her.  Charlotte’s novel about an 18-year-old wanderess from Sweden vagabonding penniless around the UK—just her guitar case and her sack: a pen and a notebook where she balanced her time-sensitive schedule for a rockstar’s five-year plan with her anti-time, anti-schedule maxims and Zen approaches for living in the moment, was less a novel than it was a dissociative hallucinogen; Charlotte’s book turned my imagination into a frenzy as I wondered whether I were the main character or not;

The short-term sensation was euphoric.  But the lasting effect of her book was to clear my life of the hundreds of empty roads and broken bottles and reawaken me to literature—for, although 95% of my income came then, as it comes now, in the form of royalty checks for my 2013 novel, The Wanderess, I was completely dead to literature and avoided writing at all costs.  It was a dangerous, self-destructive phase partially provoked by modernity’s weak and hopeless “attempt” at producing worthy literature.   (Anyway, thanks to you Seven Muses, I am writing again.)

Charlotte Eriksson now figures as one of the four modern novelists whose books I read with pleasure.

Tara Lee is my musical Muse.  She transports me with her voice and her guitar; and if that weren’t enough, Tara has this unbelievable talent for writing me letters that hypnotize me, and get me to do whatever she wishes, will, or pleases.

The last to be mentioned is probably the most important, Olivia, as she has the ability to supply me with a steady supply of blood, food, and water.  My other six Muses can inspire with intellectual nourishment.  And Tara’s letters, though they don’t come often at all, have this passion in them that keeps me awake all night long.  Yet one can live without intellectual nourishment, and one hates to live without insomniac passion; but one simply cannot live if one’s veins are dried-up of blood, and if one has not a sip of water or a bite of food to eat.  No… I could not… and I would not want to write this next novel without Olivia in my life.



[1] UNE FAIBLESSE :  (Fr) « a weakness. » “…There are times when I use French expressions and words because the English terms are escaping my memory and I don’t wanr want to interrupt his writing flow;

THE WINE OF A WOMAN (by Roman Payne)


She came to my bed
and begged me with sighs
not to tempt her towards passion
nor actions unwise.


I told her I’d spare her
and kissed her closed eyes,
then unbraided her body
of its clothing disguise


While our bodies were nude
bathed in candlelight fine
I devoured her mouth,
tender lips divine;
and I drank through her thighs
her feminine wine.


Ô, the wine of a woman
from heaven is sent,
more perfect than all
that a man can invent.


– Roman Payne (October, 2016, Marrakech)

Payne’s “The Wanderess” Makes Headlines in Billboard Magazine

My poetry and my novel “The Wanderess” has made the news in Billboard Magazine :) …The world-famous pop-star, Halsey (a young singer who read and was inspired by “The Wanderess” before she became famous last year) She was inspired to the point that she said to the press that she developed the qualities that made her famous because of my writing). Halsey based her song “Hurricane” (with its Exclusive Premiere promoted here on Billboard Magazine) on my book, “The Wanderess.”

I just read: One of her new songs is currently #1 on the “top 10 songs and albums on the iTunes Store.” Not bad ;)

(Click here for the Billboard page)





Eudaimonia: “Flourishing” Adults Live Flourishing Lives

A treatise in favor of “mind and body” arts, antidepressant medications, psychotropic drugs, and scientific procedures to alter the human mind and change consciousness; as well as an article in favor of religious practice (of any and all faiths)

By Roman Payne

Why do so many humans invest a considerable portion of their fortunes on, and are so appreciative of, the advancements in neuroscience?  It used to be assumed that the goal of neuroscientific studies were to cure dementia, Alzheimer’s, memory loss, and overall: to cheat death.  

In 2016, however, we no longer kid ourselves privately or publicly.  Today it is as acceptable to tell a stranger or a new acquaintance that you are on antidepressant drug or other psychotropic substances; or that you perform anything from yoga and meditation, to Catholic rituals or Muslim prayer.

Twenty-First Century literature, popular media in Western countries, and articles by learnéd scholars and the intelligentsia tend to agree that a fully-realized human being is someone who is not afraid to die. *

*Epicurus, for example, regarded “the unacknowledged fear of death and punishment as the primary cause of anxiety among human beings”; while Saint Augustine believed that “the fear of death makes a happy life impossible. […] The true, happy life,” Saint Augustine wrote, “requires immortality. The true life is one that is both everlasting and happy.”  Scholars and writers from Plato onward wrote similar doctrines.   Every man and woman may have “once have had” a fear of death.  In fact, “almost all” humans feared death during childhood, and many later on.  But those of us who live more or less: “contemplative lives”; those of us who devote part of each day to such activities as: introspection, self-improvement; philosophy, morality and religious practice, or the intake of pharmacological or natural psychotropic medicines, have either come to the point (and if they have not, they hopefully will, for such is the entire goal of everything from philosophy to magic to religion) where they are and can be considered “A fully-realized,” or a “flourishing,” adult.

A “flourishing” adult lives a “flourishing life”—(more specifically, a “eudaimonic” life).


Rough Draft of My New Novel: THE SAHARAN SOLILOQUY (or) THE ARABESQUE OF MOROCCO (by Roman Payne)

“You must give everything to make your life as beautiful as the dreams that dance in your imagination.”

— Roman Payne




 Ô, Muse of Morocco, sing me my soliloquy so that I may tell my tale of your land.  For never did I experience a story so hallucinatory as when I embarked upon your sand.

Morocco is a “polytropolous” land, (completely topsy-turvy); it is a land where Reality is flipped upside down and painted multi-colored—living here is like being constantly high on a wonderfully happy hallucinogenic drug.  Due to the fact that I have been a wanderer—a stranger tossed among the continents—for the last twenty years, (I first began traveling at the age of nineteen and I expatriated to France when I was just a lad of twenty-one—now I am thirty-nine—from this, I have learned an important skill: how to maintain incredible strength and feed and grow the power to overcome all of life’s obstacles—no matter how drastic they are.  Twenty years of traveling has taught me to survive all culture shock, fits of panic, agoraphobia, and other disorders that originate from fear.  Yet this only applied to the most sophisticated cities in the world.  Coming from Paris—arguably the most elegant and polite metropolis on our planet—to a bustling city in Africa where the main square near my riad





Wanderess Fans and their Tattoos…

I am thankful for all of the photos I have received from women around the world who tattoo words from my books and poems, or simply inscribe the title of my novel The Wanderess anywhere from their breasts to their dimples of Venus; or on their wrists,  ankles, and toes.

A special ‘Thank You’ to this young woman (below) who sent me this testimony of her body’s permanent appreciation of my art. I only hope that she doesn’t grow to hate me before her skin withers from age and dies.


…In any case, by tattooing my words on your delicate self, I am obliged to love you for your entire life, you realize… to answer all of your letters (though otherwise I almost never answer readers’ letters [simply because I am lazy]). Yet now, I am obliged, you understand, to treat you always with profound kindness, replying with courtesy to every message you send me. For I would never forgive myself if a woman started to hate one of her body parts because she found out just how selfish, idle and monstrous the author of her tattoo is in real life. So for you, My Loves, I will offer my eternal affection, and I will pretend that I am a good person – God forbid you should learn that my soul is dirty and I am only “slightly” better than the Devil.

Yours Forever,

Roman Payne

Morocco, 2016






“She was free in her wildness. She was a wanderess, a drop of free water. She belonged to no man and to no city.”

– Roman Payne (The Wanderess)


Very few novels are published with titles like: ‘The Portrait of an Artist as a Young Woman.’ While writers of coming-of-age novels about young men have a well-worn, established path to follow in the centuries-old genre of the: “Bildungsroman.” This German word, made popular by writers such as Goethe, refers to a “tale of initiation” where a boy, through worldly experience—usually involving solitary travel—becomes a mature man who is successful in the world. Female initiation tales in novels are much more rare, and when we do see them, they almost never involve solitary travel. A girl who has travelled alone has always risked experiencing social taboos—and still does, even in our “enlightened” 21st Century.

But a “girl travelling alone” is the subject and setting of the story in Roman Payne’s new novel, The Wanderess, which was published this month (November 2013) chez Aesthete Press. The Wanderess—Payne coined the word “wanderess” as the feminine form of “wanderer”—tells the story of “Saskia,” who begins the novel as a girl, and finishes as a young woman. Upon the death of her family, she inherits an income which allows her complete independence throughout her teenage years. This income far from consoles her. As she doesn’t need to work, nor aspire to the ambitions her—no longer living—family expects of her, she must ask herself: “what we are alive for?”… Her temporary answer is to search for the best friend she had while at boarding school in London, who now could be anywhere in Europe.

Like any great novel, there is a great romance. It begins when Saskia’s life gets tangled with the life of an adventurer (Saul), whose pursuit of pleasure and fortune gets tangled with the quest of this “Wanderess” for her long-lost friend and her own fortune. From the back cover description: “The two find themselves on a picaresque path that leads them through Spain, France, Italy and beyond; their adventures weaving them deeper and deeper into a web of jealous passion, intrigue, betrayal, and finally, murder.”

Payne admits that writing this, his fifth novel, wasn’t easy: “I already wrote a novel of initiation [Cities and Countries] about a young man’s solitary travels, adventures, and his coming-of-age; but The Wanderess is my first book where the hero is female. I obviously have no life experience in that role, yet the women who have read the advanced copies are unanimously positive. They expressed their delight and say that Saskia is lovable, convincing, and a highly-successful character.


About the Author:   Roman Payne, born January 31, 1977 in Seattle, USA, is an American expatriate literary-fiction novelist. He left America in 1999 and currently lives in Paris. His novels are highly poetic, romantic and literary. They focus on the lives of dreamers and wanderers who travel (usually throughout Europe) looking for the meaning of their lives and of the world. You can meet him on Instagram at: @novelistromanpayne, join him on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/novelistromanpayne, or follow his blog at: https://novelistromanpayne.wordpress.com.


Order a copy of “The Wanderess” through Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Wanderess-Roman-Payne/dp/098522813X. For more information about “The Wanderess,” visit the novel’s official website at: www.wanderess.com.


LITERATURE: “To Travel” vs. “To Wander” (GreatNovels.org Interviews Author, Roman Payne)

Republished from GreatNovels.org

“To wander is to be alive.”

– Roman Payne

The wanderer stops to take respite as he roams about.

The wanderer stops to take respite as he roams about.

“Wandering is the major theme of both my life and my work – and they are the same thing.”

– Roman Payne

On April 10th, 2015, William Sheller at GreatNovels.org asks Roman Payne:

“Mr. Payne, your new novel, The Love of Europa, was just partially published – that is, the first 13 chapters were released to give readers a taste for what to expect.  Do you intend to serial publish more of the book?  Or will the next release be the entire book?”

Roman Payne:  It will be the entire book, it should come out this summer.  I have to finish writing it first, though.

William Sheller:  It is an amazing beginning, I have to say.  Personally, I enjoyed reading those first 70 or so pages more than anything you’ve ever written.  I like it even more than The Wanderess, which some people believed would be your masterpiece, and perhaps your final work.

RP:  Did they think I would drop dead?  Or just take up watercolours instead of writing? …No, but I see what you mean.  I hesitated to start a book after writing The Wanderess because I was worried that I couldn’t outdo The Wanderess.  I thought that was the best writing I was capable of, and I didn’t want to make a slipshod performance to follow it.

WS:  Well The Love of Europa is anything but slipshod!  It is a beautiful story, beautifully written, and it will find a large market because it speaks primarily to “young women who love to travel.”  And there are a lot of young women who love to travel, and those who love to travel tend to have the time to read a lot.

RP:  Yes, well like all my books, it is written for the wanderers of the world.

WS:  That is something I wanted to ask you… your thoughts on travel vs. wandering.  May I print the first paragraph of The Love of Europa so people reading this can see what I’m talking about?

RP:  Be my guest.

WS:  You wrote: “She called herself Europa, and wandered the world from girlhood till death. She lived every kind of life and dreamt every kind of dream. She was wild in her wandering, a drop of free water. She believed only in her life and in her dreams. She called herself Europa, and her god was Beauty.”

RP:  Do you like it?

WS:  It’s excellent.  You are like a classical composer who reuses bits of his own melodies in multiple symphonies.  You take one of your quotes – one of your “wanderess” quotes, for example – and spin it into a new phrase, into a new literary quote, into a new poem.

RP:  If you hit on something you like, why not create variations on that theme?

WS:  Exactly.  But my question here is about your use of the word “wandering” and “wandered” (“she was wild in her wandering”)… doesn’t wandering mean, sort of, walking about aimlessly!

RP:  Not at all!   (He punches the table)

RP:  You know, “wandering” is the major theme of both my life and my work – and they are the same thing.  Let me find something in my manuscript for The Love of Europa that I wrote to explain this.  Somebody else asked me what “wandering” really means, and why I don’t use the word “travelling” instead.  And I’ll tell you why.  I wrote this to explain to that person why I use “wander” and not travel”; and then I thought, you know, a lot of people reading The Love of Europa are going to have this question, so I decided to include this paragraph in the book:

The word “travel” comes from the Old French word “travail” (or “travailler”), which means “to work, to labor; a suffering or painful effort, an arduous journey, a tormenting experience.” (“Travel,” thus, is “a painful and laborious journey”). Whereas “to wander” comes from the West Germanic “wandran,” which simply means “to roam about.” There is no labor or torment in “wandering.” There is only “roaming.” Wandering is the activity of the child, the passion of the genius; it is the discovery of the self, the discovery of the outside world, and the learning of how the self is both at one with and separate from the outside world. These discoveries are as fundamental to the soul as “learning to survive” is fundamental to the body. These discoveries, Dear Reader, are essential to realizing what it means to be human. To wander is to be alive.

The "eternal wanderer," Roman Payne, beneath the Parisian sky at the Jardin du Luxembourg (2014) | Photograph © Marta Szczesniak

The “eternal wanderer,” Roman Payne, beneath the Parisian sky at the Jardin du Luxembourg (2014) | Photograph © Marta Szczesniak

Get the first 13 chapters of The Love of Europa for Kindle right now… click here!

“A girl without braids is like a city without bridges.”



“A girl without braids
is like a city without bridges.”

― Roman Payne, The Wanderess

“Never did the world make a queen of a girl who hides in houses and dreams without traveling.”


“Never did the world make a queen of a girl who hides in houses and dreams without traveling.”

― Roman Payne, The Wanderess

Literary Quote by Roman Payne: Woman at the Window


“She was free in her wildness. She was a wanderess, a drop of free water. She belonged to no man and to no city”

― Roman Payne, The Wanderess

Authors: Ways I can help you promote your writing and your books…

Dear Writers, Authors, Photographers, Poets, and Artists,

I have partners and resources that can get you instant exposure: help you sell your books, help you publish your writing on quality literary websites, etc.  Some of these services I can offer for as low as $10.

For example, I can send a message of your choice to over 1,300 readers.  I can send a news item of your choice to 2,000 journalists in the USA and/or in Europe.  I can get your short stories, essays and articles, photos, paintings, book publicity ads, or author interviews, on quality online literary magazines.   Through message blasts, I can give you “virtually instant” publicity.  Through publishing you in magazines, I can give you fame that will last (people will find it when then type your name in Google.

If “instant” or “lasting” fame interests you, please fill out this short form below: (Note all information in the form will be sent to me privately and will remain private)


Thank you for filling out this form, I will email you soon!


Literary Quote for Spring: She Wakes in a Puddle of Sunlight


“She wakes in a puddle of sunlight.
Her hands asleep beside her.
Her hair draped on the lawn
like a mantle of cloth.”
– Roman Payne

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Cover for the forthcoming novel by Roman Payne

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Will Facebook Win the Next Nobel Prize for Literature? Will Wine Intoxication Ever Become Mandatory for Shepherds? …An Afternoon with Authors Pietros Maneos and Roman Payne.

(See the original interview at www.literaturemonthly.com)

They are both Americans, both highly-literary: Payne is the author of five novels that take place in Europe and follow the lives of itinerant dreamers who wander the world in search of adventure, meaning, and the “poetic life.”  Like his characters, Payne, 38, is an itinerant dreamer who lives in Paris, wanders in Europe, and devotes his time to “living the Homeric life,” and “inventing the next novel.”  Payne and Maneos are both published by Aesthete Press.

Above, Left: Roman Payne (Photo, copyright 2014: Marta Szczesniak, Photography) | Above, Right: Pietros Maneos. NOTE: SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM OF THE ARTICLE FOR FULL-SIZED PHOTOS OF THE AUTHORS.

Above, Left: Roman Payne (Photo, copyright 2014: Marta Szczesniak, Photography) | Above, Right: Pietros Maneos. NOTE: SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM OF THE ARTICLE FOR FULL-SIZED PHOTOS OF THE AUTHORS.

Maneos, 35, is no less a son of the divine Homer.  He seeks aesthetic perfection in all things: his life, his Ancient Greek body, and his literature, which, like Payne’s, marries Classicism and Romanticism.  Unlike other professional authors who seek the cliché in mid-life of some kind of professorship at a university, or a pay check in exchange for scholary pursuits in a library, Maneos chose a life that few have managed to live since the decline of the Ancient Roman aristocracy: he purchased 40-acres of Eden in North Carolina where he is constructing a vineyard to live his own version of a life like one of his heroes: the Roman literary-patron Gaius Maecenas.  “Bramabella” is the name that Maneos chose for his vineyard—a construction of two Italian words that, assembled, mean “yearning for beauty.”

The two authors and the editor Jean Sitori are sitting in the office of the newspaper Literature Monthly in Paris.  Jean is entranced as he watches Maneos stand and demonstrate how to properly hurl the discus. After a moment, Jean turns his attention to Payne…

JEAN SITORI:  Roman, speaking of hurling the discus, you just got back from Greece where you were living for about four months…  Are you happy to be back in France?  Were you writing well in Greece?

PAYNE:  I am always happy to be back in France—that is why I almost never leave France to begin with.  When I get tricked into leaving France, I almost always regret it afterwards.  I initially went to Greece this trip to research my next novel at a place on the beach just outside of Athens.  But the weather got bad, the sea turned cold and violent—fault of Poseidon!  I can deal with nasty weather.  But when the inspiration to write disappears, I lose my mind.  Here I was in Greece: the birthplace of the muses, and they had abandoned me.  I tried all the tricks to get literary inspiration back: yoga, running, hard alcohol, nothing worked.  My thoughts were so black that I became convinced that writing was something that was no longer a part of me at all.  Now, back in France, I suddenly feel like writing again; and my work is going well.

JS:  Are you reading at present?

PAYNE:  No.  When I am writing well, I do not read.  Reading takes valuable time away, and it puts another man’s or woman’s style in your head to mar your own.  What are you reading at present, Jean?

Jean makes a wholehearted laugh at this and says, “Let’s see… what am I reading these days?”  With that, he begins leafing through a copy of the woman’s magazine Grazia, which he said, had “mysteriously” appeared in his briefcase that day.  After scanning a blonde woman smoking a cigar for a moment, his eyes light up.  He’d found an article worth commenting on to his guests. Jean summarized the article…

Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg told Grazia that he made it his 2015 New Year’s resolution to, quote, “read more literature,” and to finish a book every two weeks.  This resolution, he said, inspired him to make reading “chic” (we didn’t know that Zuckerberg had a magic wand for making things chic, but why not?!), so he has created a Facebook page called “A Year of Books.”  It currently has just over 350,000 likes.

JS:  Pietros, what do you think of Zuckerberg’ public display of affection for reading?

MANEOS:  Well, I think that it is noble of Mr. Zuckerberg to do so, especially as the head of a technology company, since society seems to be awhirl over technological platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Vine and others, which has perhaps led to a decline in the written word. Not that there aren’t a plethora of authors flooding the marketplace, but it seems that modern man has lost the ability to sit quietly with a book for an extended period of time without succumbing to the lure of online ephemera’

JS: Some of the books Zuckerberg said he is reading are excellent titles.  Perhaps his publicist thought them up to make the Facebook founder seem complex and interesting, or perhaps he really is interesting.  Anyway, many of the titles delve into the Baroque, others into Romanticism, others into Ornate Gothic Style… since your own books are complex and ornate, and explore Baroque Romanticism, do you foresee that pop-culture is going to lean more in your direction and away from current trends, like Philip Roth ?

MANEOS:  Well, I think popular culture and literary culture are two disparate entities. With regard to popular culture, I think that it is enamored with ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ and other such works, no?

But now transitioning to literary culture, I don’t think that there has been much cultural shift from the irony, cynicism, and anti-aestheticism of the previous epoch. I still think that many writers and artists are busy declaiming ‘Isn’t it pretty to think so?’, while writing in short, spare, suburban sentences. I, of course, have rejected this trend for a Baroque aestheticism that one finds in personages like D’Annunzio and Kazantzakis. I embrace epithet, adjective, apposition and heightened musicality, which are despised by many moderns. So, I certainly consider myself part of a burgeoning counter-culture of To Kalon in modernity along with such movements in the visual arts such as Post-Contemporary.

JS: Pietros, just what is it about “Baroque aestheticism” that you embrace? And can you explain the term a little for our readers who have turned a blind eye to that phrase up until now?

MANEOS:   An example of Baroque aestheticism might be, ‘The light, soft and sensuous, brushed across the crest of the Brushy Mountain,’ where spare, suburban 20th century minimalism would simply say, ‘The light hit the Brushy Mountain.’

The great Matthew Arnold once noted, ”The instinct for beauty is served by Greek literature and art as it is served by no other literature and art,’ and I am striving to continue this Hellenic sensibility in the 21st century.

JS:  Pietros, when one reads your work; or talks to you personally, and listens to your music playlists, one feels that you are more Greek than any full-blood Greek currently alive in Athens, or in Sparta, or Macedonia… How come you didn’t start Bramabella in Greece instead of America? Or at least, why don’t you live six months of the year in North Carolina, and six months of the year in Greece?

MANEOS:   Well, although I am Greek by descent and sensibility as an ardent student of classical antiquity, I do not speak demotic Greek, so that alone would be a challenge. Additionally, Greece is suffering under dire economic conditions, so if I ventured there, I might end up starving to death, ha!

Also, similarly to the orator/philosopher Isocrates, I have always believed that Greece or rather Hellenism is not so much of a language, or a land-mass as it is a world-view, a philosophy, if you will. Figures like Oscar Wilde, John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron, Paul Cartledge, John Boardman and many other Artist/Scholars are as Hellenic as any Greek whose last name happens to end in ‘os’ by happenstance. You too, my friend, are Hellenic even though you were born in America, and have elected to reside abroad.

Though, I must make a final confession to you – Traveling to Greece to raise a classicizing army to battle ISIL in Syria-Iraq does intrigue me, as it is perfumed with both Herakleanism and Byronism.

JS:  Pietros, our poor friend Roman is starting to daydream over there in his chair—one can tell because his eyes look like Lucy in the Heavens with Rhinestones—maybe he is bored because we are so interested in your work right now.   To ask you a question about Roman’s work… His first novel was a Parisian thriller in the Dostoevsky style. His second, Cities and Countries, was a Bildungsroman set in an imaginary world.  His third was a tragic love story.  His fourth was a diary of seducing women in Paris—everyone from impoverished seamstresses without breeding and a ripe age that can be counted on three hands, to blue-blooded countesses cheating on their husbands.  Then his fifth novel, “The Wanderess,” well that is more hard to define.  The question is… you, Pietros, are a literary scholar and, if I may flatter you by saying: a literary visionary.  What do you think Roman’s sixth novel will be about?  What do you think it “should” be about?

MANEOS:  Roman is a great genius, and I think that for Rooftop Soliloquy and The Wanderess he should be considered for the Nobel Prize, but to speak of your question, I think that he should continue in the Heroic and Aesthetic vein. Perhaps, since he is descended from the ‘Chian Nightingale’ – Homer – in such a pronounced way, he could write a Modern Odyssey akin to what Kazantzakis attempted.

JS: You make the distinction between two phrases: ‘The light hit the Brushy Mountain,’ and one that I believe you appreciate more: ‘The light, soft and sensuous, brushed across the crest of the Brushy Mountain.’ …Mark Zuckerberg would probably claim to agree with your tastes. Do you think this is an anomaly—the preference of a well-educated billionaire matching the preference of a Homeric poet who is most likely a descendant of the immortal poet Sappho ? Or do you think that we may be entering a new literary age—a time when people are, frankly, sick and tired of “spare, suburban, 20th Century minimalism?”

MANEOS:  Well, I am not sure about a new literary age, but one can only hope! I think that my kinship with figures like Roman Payne, Tomasz Rut, Michael Newberry, Sabin Howard, Graydon Parrish, Michael Imber and others is indicative of a cultural paradigm shift. I am always hesitant to use the term ‘movement’ – but – there is certainly a shared sense of aesthetic values.  And one of my aims is to have Bramabella stand as an expression of this aesthetic.

JS to PAYNE: Pietros Maneos is a poet, novella scribe, and satirist… he is a writer of many styles, many genres. What is your favorite genre of his at present?

PAYNE:   Maneos has arrived at a sacred mastery of certain literary forms (I am not fond of the word “genre”).  I would say, these “sacred forms” are my favorites of his, since no one does them better than he does.  The forms that come to my mind first is what I would call his “Bramabella Pastorales.”  In these poems, Maneos is able paint a landscape like Renoir or Monet, construct a exquisite virgin like John Williams Waterhouse, sing of the youthful love of a troubadour, or the old man’s lament of a Cavafy poem.  He can prepare the body to fight like a Homeric hero, fall to tears like a Nocturne of Chopin.  They are all that is life: his Bramabella poems are the laments of a poet intoxicated with wine, and the joys of a madman sipping the sweet fumes of the poppy.

JS:  And what is the literary style that you would like to see Maneos work on next?

PAYNE:   I would love to see him write a 200 page “roman d’amour” in the French tradition… an old style novel about a couple’s first love, and their last.

JS:  (To the readers)… This concludes our all-too-short interview, but we at Literature Monthly hope to have Maneos and Payne with us again soon!


Excerpt from Europa (A Woman Sleeping)


The way the novelist watched a woman as she lay in his bed in the morning light, her naked legs covered only by a thin sheet, the way her legs would tremble… softly shaking, softly quivering… The novelist would observe her legs half-naked, half-covered by a cotton sheet; and as they quivered he would liken them to the strings of a well-strung classical guitar played by a master musician. Each shudder of her legs beneath the sheet was the vibration of the string of the plucked guitar uttering a gentle and romantic ode that went to fill the citrus-scented air with a sweet serenade that filled the novelist’s heart with perfection, inspiring him to write and create… to write and write until his fingers exploded in a passion that can only be felt when one reads the lines of a perfect poem or hears a song gloriously played, or listens enraptured to the breath of a woman as breathes her sweet breath after she’s come to the most sensual of all climaxes a body can experience.

(excerpt from Payne’s new novel, coming in 2015)